TIP OF THE MONTH
10 Home Safety Tips for Summer
As I'm feeling re-energized after a winter hibernation, I'm starting to talk myself into abandoning my cozy spot on the couch and to stop binge watching Netflix. I love working outside, getting the windows clean, so I can enjoy the freshly planted flowers from the inside and out. And don't get me going on the smell of fresh cut grass in spring after a long winter, it could be better than a cup of morning coffee.... maybe, it's a tough tossup. I'm also realizing it's the perfect time of year to start thinking about reviewing and implementing some safety measures around the house.
On average a home burglary will cost the home owner around $2,000.00. That's just the things that have disappeared... the TV's, jewelry, etc. This does not include the time spent repairing the mess left behind, like the broken door/window or the emotional toll it can take on the family.
I know, I know, it sounds like a lot of work and it always feels like it will cost a ton of money for something that may not even happen to you. But it doesn't necessarily mean it will break the bank or take a whole weekend or two to accomplish. Some of these things you may be doing already! Let's start with the easy stuff first.
1. Working Outside
If you are working outside or even just relaxing with a cold iced tea out back, make sure your doors are locked and garage doors are down in the front. It's not always convenient.... but most burglaries occur in the daylight and through the front of the house. Just because it's obvious you are home, doesn't mean they won't come... especially if you have something shiny where everyone can see it.
2. Parking Outside
Unfortunately there have been a lot of vehicle break-ins, in every part of town. If you park outside lock your car. Hide your valuables or better yet, don't leave anything in the car. Phone chargers should be out of sight as well. They indicate you have something of value to anyone who passes by and looks in, making your vehicle a target. (BONUS: these tips work for shopping trips as well)
3. House Address
Are your house numbers visible to all those driving by? It's important that, in the event of an emergency, your first responders can find your house easily. If you have children, this is a great time to make sure they know their address as well, practice makes perfect.
I love leaving the windows open and letting in the fresh air. I want to let as much air in as possible and open them all the way. BUT, 23% of burglaries happen through the first floor windows. Lock your windows when you are inside or out. Newer windows have a latch that will leave the air in and make lifting the window from outside nearly impossible. If you have older windows without a latch, a dowel rod cut to the right length and placed in the frame can be a cheap and effective option.
How's your lighting outside? Can you see outside if someone were to knock on your exterior door at night? Motion lights are a good option to help you and your neighbors see movement in your yard. Walk around your house one evening, check to see if you have any areas around the house that the exterior lights are not covering. This could be a place someone could hide in and wait for the perfect time to break in. Add some additional lights if necessary, this could deter a thief from picking your home.
If you have already started digging into your flower beds and cleaning out the debris, think about a new look for your yard. Before you plant anything new or replace your old mulch consider your home security when shopping. Small rocks add a new look and color to your flower beds, but also can be a deterrent for someone to peak into your windows. The sound can help alert you of movement outside and any experienced burglar will not want to draw any attention to themselves. Typically an intruder will not spend any more than 60 seconds to gain entrance, the harder you make it for them, the quicker they will move on. How about some pretty thorny plants under the window? No fun to weed them, yes, but keeps the teenagers in and makes the bad guys uncomfortable.
7. Doors & Locks
Door and locks almost should be at number one, but I didn't want to scare you away so we're tucking them down here at #7. Easiest thing you can do first is replace the flimsy top and bottom screws in the strike plate and replace them with longer screws. This will make it harder for a door to give way in the jamb if someone would apply force to the door. If you end up shopping for new exterior doors choose between a metal construction or a solid wood door. Also, if there will be a window in the door, check the window. If the window were to be broken, can a person reach their arm through to unlock the door? Can someone see into the home easily? If you answer yes to both of these move to the next door.
Ohhhh vacation, vacation, vacation... I hope you make it somewhere by the beach! PLEASE do not share all of your wonderful pictures of your feet in the sand or your plane taking off until you are back home! You never know who will see those pictures and it is not just your friends and family. Stop your mail, put your interior/exterior lights, radio, TV on timers so it looks like someone is home. The Sheriff's Office even offers a Vacation Security check for FREE! Just call the office at 419.424.7098 and sign up after a few questions. A Deputy will come and walk around your house and make sure it's secure and will call you if there are any problems!
Cameras have really come a long way and the prices have come down as well. There are some great ones on the market that are wireless and send messages to your mobile phone when they detect movement. You really can go all out on these if you decide to. Do some research before you make a big purchase and figure out what will be best for your needs and budget. Is night vision and 20X zoom important to you? Do you want to invest a monthly fee in Cloud storage? Don't get overwhelmed, maybe just start with one that shows the front or back door of your home. You can always add additional units later.
10. Security System
I can't tell you who or which companies are popular in our area, but I can tell you that homes with a security system are 3x less likely to be broken into verses the homes without a system. Check with the Better Business Bureau before you call a company for a quote or an install. Get multiple quotes before you decide which company/product to go with. Systems have changed over the years, they now can come wireless, so there is no drilling into your walls and doorways. Do your homework and decide what will work best for you and your budget.
Last little tip: Get to know your neighbors. It's great to have those extra set of eyes on your home. When everyone is engaged in a community it makes it a better place to live. Well time for me to get busy, how about you?
By: Beth Baker
Hancock County Sheriff's Office
Findlay Police Department and City Deparments
Hancock County Governement Offices
50North - Senior Servies
Hancock County Crime Stoppers