Our homes are our refuge - keep it safe during the holiday season

December 22, 2015

Our homes are our refuge. We want it to be a safe place, not only when we are home, but while we are gone.

San Luis Obispo County is a wonderful place to live. We are blessed with a lot of open space and terrific communities, all with different personalities. But I always tell people to not be lulled into a false sense that bad things don't happen here. Being proactive, rather than reactive, is so much wiser and keeps most of from becoming a statistic.

Vacation time is coming up, and people start thinking about things they should consider while they are away. Here are my thoughts on what you can do, short of installing a security system in your home.

Be aware of your surroundings. Take a walk around your house and stand back and look. Sometimes we don't realize that we invite trouble. For example, don't leave a ladder on the side of the house if your house is two story and you sometimes leave windows open. Pretend you are locked out, and see how easy (or hard) it is to get in.

Lock your doors and windows. Seems simple, doesn't it. Making sure your doors and windows are closed and locked is the first step in reducing your exposure. Most burglars enter through an open or unlocked window or door.

Don't announce your schedule on social media. The sad fact is that there are those that watch for indication that someone is on vacation. I know we all want to share fun information, but if your house is unattended, you can become a target.

Don't put the trash out early. If you have a vacation home, or your own home for that matter, don't put the trash cans on the street days before your trash pickup. This is a terrific signal that you are away.

Newspapers stacking up. This really is a no-brainer because it too can be an indicator of a vacant house. It is wise to have them picked up by a friend or neighbor, or suspend delivery. I prefer having them picked up by someone because you never know who gets notice of the delivery suspension.

It is a great idea to leave a key with a friend. If something comes up, with the authorities, or regarding water, etc., someone can gain access to help. Remove your hide-a-key. Most all of us have one, and the location can also be shared. And the experienced burglar knows many of the typical hiding places.

There is nothing worse than traveling away from home, and returning to a house that has suffered trauma. And on the flip side, there is nothing better than getting off the weary road and returning to an intact home. Take some steps to make sure your homecoming is a good one.

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