What Are the Best Ways to Secure Your Home This Winter?
For those of us in the United States that are forced to “fall back” every autumn, the evening and morning darkness last us a whole extra hour. That means that the pitch-black night time comes even earlier than the already early nights in the colder months all over the world. With all of these factors combined, it’s no surprise that there is almost always an increase in crime during the fall and winter months.
With all of that in mind, it’s a good idea to consider your home’s security. If there was an emergency like a break-in or attempted robbery, would you be equipped to deal with it? Would you feel comfortable knowing that your family is in your home without you there to protect them? If not, then it’s a good idea to look at ways to improve the security around your house. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to do this, and even the pricier options are worth the investment. At the end of the day, ask yourself: What is your family’s safety worth to you?
Take Advantage of Security Cameras and Alarm Systems
Since the idea of increased crime during the winter is definitely not a secret, look at big-name security systems and see if any sales are being promoted. Oftentimes security companies that provide cameras, alarms, and other security systems will run sales during the Christmas season. Look at what’s available to you and decide what you should invest in — and contact your homeowner’s insurance if you do. You can reduce monthly payments up to 20% in so doing.
Outdoor security cameras can be a hugely useful tool, especially when they’re placed near doors, outbuildings, and near vehicles. Cameras will catch would-be perpetrators, giving you valuable insight into what they look like, what they were wearing, and any other physical descriptors to help you identify them. Most modern security cameras let you upload footage to the cloud, which can be saved and shared with law enforcement if need be.
Security cameras don’t need to stop at the home, though; car cams are incredibly valuable for catching things like traffic violations and accidents in real-time. Otherwise known as dash cams, these little cameras attach to the dashboard of your vehicle and record everything in front of your car. This gives you a full view of what is happening on the road around you and can serve as evidence if you are willing to press charges against an offender. Car cams are a good idea no matter what time of the year it is, winter or not, so consider investing in something high-quality for the utmost protection.
Look Into Wireless Security Options
It’s a good idea to look into wireless security options. The word “wireless” is a general term for using the internet to broadcast signals instead of depending on hardwired connections. This can mean anything from your Wii remote to your car’s GPS, but today we are specifically talking about your home’s internet security. Are you confident that you are protected against a cyberattack of any kind?
Generally, when you sign up for internet service, your ISP (internet service provider) will have a set of built-in security options such as a WiFi password and other firewalls to repel hackers. Ensure that you are regularly allowing your PC and other devices to install updates, and if need be, look for ways to beef up internet security. There are plenty of free widgets and tools that you can download such as CCleaner and Norton Antivirus, but if you want something a little meatier, look into paid security programs. These can include McAfee Antivirus, Bullguard, or any other reputable software that will keep your computer free and clear of viruses and attacks.
For people who are parenting in this digital era, internet security means more than avoiding viruses. The internet is a useful tool, but it is also a cesspool of negativity, inappropriate websites, and of course, potential creepers who prey on children. As a parent or guardian of a child, it’s your responsibility to protect them from the dangers of the internet. Along with your regular internet security protocols, consider special security that is specifically for parental controls. Some of our favorite software for this purpose include:
- Kaspersky Safe Kids. Affordable and convenient, this program lets you control and monitor your kids’ internet usage on mobile as well as desktop internet platforms.
- Clean Router. This is an internet router that is geared just for filtering out inappropriate content, including flagged websites and pornography.
- Net Nanny. Though this service requires a monthly subscription, it does a fantastic job protecting your kids while surfing the internet. Net Nanny automatically scans web pages and flags anything inappropriate, giving you peace of mind and letting your kids freely browse the web.
Prevent Pest Infestations
Part of home security is ensuring that you and your family are protected from unwanted visitors other than crooks and criminals; it also means safeguarding you from bugs and other vermin. The weather outside is getting more and more frightful by the day, which means that the critters outside are trying to find a warm home to spend the winter.
As much as you’d like it to be, this is not a Disney movie. If you open your attic door and see a nest of rats or raccoons bundled up snug and warm, they will not help you take a bath and clean the house. Rather, they can be dangerous and cause serious damage to your home’s wiring, siding, insulation, and more. Even worse than the furry creatures are the ones that have exoskeletons and way too many legs — these pests are highly unsanitary and can cause disease and otherwise discomfort in your home.
Pests of any kind require an exterminator, and not soon enough. An exterminator will come through and use different control methods like poisons and traps to get the nastiest of pests gone. Some will also provide a deterrent spray along the perimeter of your house to prevent the grossest bugs like roaches, millipedes, spiders, and ants (carpenter, fire, or any kind of ant you can think of). The deterrent spray will kill most bugs that dare cross the border, keeping your home bug-free for at least three months before another application is required.
If you’re one of those tenderhearted souls like we are and can’t stand the idea of innocent raccoons dying in your attic, never fear. This is when you call a wildlife control specialist instead of an exterminator. Companies like Critter Control use cruelty-free methods to help you to catch and control your furry pests, keeping them alive and then releasing them back into their native habitat once they’re caught. This can include bats, raccoons, rats, or whatever creature is invading your home. Ensure that when you call regarding animal control, you ask the proper questions regarding the humane treatment of the critters.
Double and Triple Check the Locks on Your Windows and Doors
You know that one lock in your home that isn’t quite secure, but it’s such a minor thing that you always forget to replace it? Now’s your opportunity to remember. Seasoned criminals and those who know how to break into homes know all about those wiggly, unreliable locks because those are the ones that they know how to take advantage of. Avoid giving bad guys instant access to your home by replacing whatever needs to be replaced.
Walk around your home with a notepad and pencil and put your hands on every single entrance: Windows, sliding patio doors, garage doors, etc. Test to ensure that all of these have proper locking mechanisms and that there is no obvious way to jimmy them open, and take note of possible security gaps. If need be, investing in replacement windows can be a great way to add a layer of security to your home. Windows with double-paned glass are more energy-efficient, last longer than the outdated varieties, and best of all, have modern-day locks on them.
For added security, consider adding locks to your exterior doors. Sliding latch looks commonly found in apartment buildings are a great option, as well as bolting security locks. For sliding doors, we recommend putting a straight piece of wood between the door tracks during the night time and when you’re otherwise not home, thus preventing it from sliding open all the way. It might feel a little silly to be so overcautious, but if you are prevented from the heartache and stress of a break-in or other criminal activity, you will thank yourself later. As we already asked you: What is your family’s security worth to you?
Don’t Ignore the Hidden Dangers
The scariest security issues are the silent ones. Don’t discount the importance of keeping the home safe and healthy from dangers that might not be immediately obvious. You might not think that you are breathing unclean air, but remember to stay up-to-date on home maintenance that can improve indoor air quality.
The likely example that comes to your mind is likely your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You’re one smart cookie! Remember that regular testing and changing out the batteries on these devices is so, so important in your family’s safety. Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless and can spread with absolutely no warning throughout your home. Your properly functioning carbon monoxide detector is the only surefire way to safeguard your family against the dangerous poison, so stay on top of it.
Don’t discount the importance of mold remediation, though. Your home will have some mold in it from time to time, whether that’s inside the toilet or along the bathtub, but the good part is that that sort of mold and mildew is easy to clean up. The mold that you need to worry about is the kind that lives inside drywall and foundation, which is slowly eating your home from the inside out.
Don’t wait until your walls look like the basement in The Haunting of Hill House before you decide to seek out help. The moment that you spot moisture in your house, you need to seek and destroy what is causing it as soon as possible. Some warning signs of hidden moisture might include:
- Soft, spongy spots in your drywall or floor. Anything that indents when you push into it with your fingertip is Not A Good Sign and can be a strong indicator that you’ve already got a bigger problem than you realized. Call a contractor to get a professional opinion, as well as advice on how best to tackle the issue.
- Missing shingles on your roof. You might not think it’s that big of a deal to be missing a shingle or two, but make no mistake: Your roof shingles are the helmet for your house. Missing shingles that show your roof’s bare underside can lead to rot and moisture, causing leaks and water damage inside of your home. If you live in a climate with lots of snow and rain (we’re looking at you, Seattle), then a healthy roof is more than just a good suggestion; it’s literally what could save you thousands of dollars in water damage later on. Don’t wait to get your roof inspected if you suspect there’s a leak of some kind; early prevention is the best idea.
- What’s that smell? An earthy, woody, or dirt-like smell in your house is one of the biggest red flags that there is moisture somewhere. Follow your nose and find where it’s coming from. Sometimes it’s as easy as cleaning up a spill under the sink, but sometimes it’s much more damning than that. This is where all of the above tips come together in one; once you find where the smell is coming from, you can check for soft spots, leaks, or other existing damage.
We are begging you to take all of the dangers inside of your house seriously. Although not all are security measures in the sense that you might be thinking, like dealing with rot and mold, they are all invaluable solutions that can save you buckets of money and heartache down the road. Personal and home security are a big deal, especially during the darker winter months. Invest your time now into preventative measures so that you are safe and protected from dangers later down the road.