Home Safety For Holiday Travel
Lauren Baskin - South Yarmouth, MA

Hardwarian Lauren Baskin

True Value Hardware

South Yarmouth, MA

Home Safety For Holiday Travel

Level: Beginner

For many of us, the holiday season means traveling out-of-town to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, an empty house can be an inviting target for burglars who prefer houses they know are unoccupied for days at a time. Fortunately, there are steps you can take before you leave that can help keep it safe. Following these steps will make for a more relaxing vacation and more peaceful time when you return.

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    • Install Lights For Protection
       
      outdoor lightingTimers

      When considering home safety while you are miles away, use motion-activated lighting. This type of light fixture turns on when a sensor detects motion - a feature that helps protect against intruders.

      Today, decorative lantern-style fixtures automatically light up otherwise dark porches and patios. A motion-activated sensor also can be retrofitted to most existing light fixtures and many are affordable and easy to install.

      If you have a large area that requires much light and you want to accomplish it with a single fixture, a high-pressure sodium or mercury security light will do the trick. These fixtures pack a lighting punch. For example, a 70-watt sodium security light will illuminate more than 8,500 square feet; provide 6,300 lumens of light and last up to 12 times longer than a standard incandescent par floodlight. Add a built-in photo control and the light will automatically turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn with no timers or switches.

      Lighting upgrades shouldn't be limited to the exterior. You can improve safety and discourage prowlers by installing motion-activated lighting and timers inside, as well.

      During the winter, timers are still another means of improving safety, security and comfort. Come home to a lit home without keeping lights on all day. A standard wall switch can be replaced with a digital timer that will turn interior or exterior lighting off at predetermined times. What's more, this style of switch will allow for random settings that give your home a lived-in look while you are away. A plug-in timer for a table lamp can also create the illusion of an occupied home and keep would-be intruders away. Timers are inexpensive and easy to install.

      Besides providing improved safety and security, motion-activated switches and timers are highly energy efficient - especially if you have youngsters who frequently forget to turn lights off.

    • Improve Door Security
       
      foam sealer

      How do your doors stack-up burglar-wise? Are they solid and secure or just barely there? Beefing up exterior doors is a good and inexpensive way to greatly improve home security.

      Start by removing the inside trim around the door. Doorframes are hung between rough framing and are rarely ever a snug fit.

      You'll find some filler or shims were initially used to secure the frame but adding more will only make it stronger. Add blocks or shims behind all hinges and around the latch and deadbolt strike plates. Make things snug but don't move the doorframe.

      While in there, fill any open spaces with expanding foam to stop drafts. Re-attach the casing using finishing nails and replace the hinge and strike plate screws with new ones at least one inch longer to hold deeper into the framing and strengthen the overall installation.

      When finished it may not look any different, but you'll have peace of mind knowing there's more muscle inside if uninvited visitors come calling.

    • Make Your Windows Super-Secure
       
      Secure Windows

      Before you leave the house, close the windows, push those clamshell latches into place, and feel everything's safe and secure. But if you're trying to stop crowbar-wielding thieves, it will take more – like window locks.

      • One simple system involves drilling holes through the inner sash and partway into the outer one, then putting bolts into the hole.
      • Or you can buy window locks, complete with keys and a variety of setups to fit any window.
      • Whichever security system you use, you can leave the house with one less thing to worry about.
       
    • Improve Security With Locks
       

      Get it Situated
      Purchase the lock of your choice at your local True Value hardware store. Position the lock on the door at the height you want and mark the holes with a pencil.

      Place the receiver of the chain or bolt on the doorframe trim and lightly trace the outer edges in pencil. Use your utility knife to cut away the door trim until you reach the doorjamb. Replace the lock piece and mark the screw hole with pencil.

      Lock it in Place
      Use your drill and a bit that is slightly smaller than the mounting screw. Drill shallow holes at all the pencil marks. These are your pilot holes for the screws. Align the lock with the pilot holes and use your screwdriver to place and tighten all the screws (never over-tighten and strip screws).

      You've added a level of safety to your home. And you did it yourself!

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

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