Easy Ways to Protect Your Home during the Holidays

With the holidays right around the corner, you may be thinking about what gifts to give to your friends and family. Or perhaps you're envisioning a relaxing, well-deserved vacation in a sunnier locale.

But are you thinking about the security of your home?

Fortunately, you can take preventative steps to ensure your holidays are happy ones. Make this list a priority in your home—and don't forget to check it twice!

Tips for At-Home Families
If you're planning on staying home for the holidays, you'll still need to be cautious about your decorations and activities to keep your home safe.

Inspect and Replace Holiday Lights
Christmas lights are a great way to put you and your family in the holiday spirit. Before you hang up those lights, double-check for broken or cracked bulbs and replace them as needed. When replacing any of the broken lights, ensure you match the voltage and wattage to the original bulb. Only use CSA-approved lights, and never overload your electrical outlets. In order to prevent bulbs from overheating, be sure to turn them off before bed.

Never Leave a Candle, Fireplace, or Stove Unattended
Scented candles and cosy fires create a romantic and nostalgic atmosphere in any home. But while that tea candle may look pretty sitting in those pine branches, it's a fire hazard waiting to happen.

Only place candles in sturdy candle holders that are well out of the reach of children and flammable objects. Similarly, keep flammable objects away from the fireplace, and always use a screen to protect against sparks. Extinguish all flames before leaving the room or going to sleep.

Keep Your Tree Away from Heat Sources
Heated rooms dry out trees, making them more vulnerable to catching fire. Consequently, you'll want to pick a fresh tree and keep it away from the heat.

When picking a tree, choose one with needles that are difficult to remove from branches and that bend between your fingers. Check the water level daily and keep the trunk immersed in water. Dispose of your tree within 10 to 14 days of purchase or when the tree starts to dry out.

Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Even if you implement the above safety tips, your home may still be at risk of a fire. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms act as an extra safeguard for you and your family—but they don't do you any good if they're not working! Test your alarms and replace the batteries as needed.

Tips for Holiday Travellers
If you're planning on vacationing elsewhere during the holidays, know how you should protect your home while you're away. Theft tends to spike during the holiday season, but these tips will help keep your home and your belongings safe.

Consider Hiring a House Sitter
Few things are more attractive to a thief than an unattended home. Christmas lights on a timer can help deter would-be criminals by creating the illusion of an occupant. However, close observers may detect the pattern and realize no one is home.

If you plan on leaving for several days or weeks, ask a trustworthy friend or neighbour to watch your house while you're away. You don't want to broadcast your leaving to the whole neighbourhood, but it doesn't hurt to have someone guard your home against invaders.

Additionally, keep the police in the loop about your vacation plans, especially if you're going to be gone for more than a week. The police may go on patrol in your area to ensure your home is safe.

Hold Your Mail and Stop Newspaper Delivery
An overflowing mailbox and a doorstep covered in newspapers are tell-tale signs that you've been away for several days. Before you leave on your next trip, ask the post office to hold your mail and contact your newspaper delivery service to hold deliveries until your return.

If this option isn't possible, have your friend or neighbour pick up the mail for you while you are away.

Lock Up Before You Leave
This may seem like a no-brainer, but always make sure to lock your house before you go on your next trip. This way you don't have to worry about the locks while you're relaxing with family or friends. Be especially conscious of closing and locking all windows, even those on the upper levels of your house.

Worried that you might forget? Consider installing locks that link with an app on your phone. You'll be able to lock or unlock your doors using Wi-Fi, so your home will be safe even while celebrating Christmas in the Bahamas.

Install a Security System
Security systems will keep you up to date on the comings and goings in and around your home. Motion detectors, remote access cameras, and similar devices will ensure that no one enters your home without your notice—including your house sitter.

If you're planning on vacationing for the holidays, make sure your system is armed and ready to protect your home. Not sure if your system works? Ask your local security provider at Astro Guard Alarms to test your system, and help keep watch while you are away.