For a prime example of what can go wrong when you travel for the holidays, look no further than Home Alone. True, you probably won’t forget your child as you jet off for a Christmas vacation in Paris, and even if you did, there’s an invention called cell phones. Still, we probably all have a thing or two to learn about keeping our homes safe during holiday travels – without resorting to BB guns and tarantula traps.
Are you making any of these 5 home safety mistakes this season?
1. Posting specific details about your travel plans on social media.
No matter how tightly edited your Facebook Friends list may be, there’s always room for error. In an age of instant updates, we’ve all been tempted to post pictures of our view from the ski lift (or a bored selfie on a 15-hour road trip to Grandma’s house). But you might not realize that to someone with bad intentions, that seemingly innocent post is like a flashing neon sign that screams, “WE’RE NOT HOME.” Wait to post updates and pictures until the trip is over, or at least write generic captions like “Having a great time with family” without specifying that you’re out of town.
2. Putting your Christmas tree – and gifts – in front of a window.
We can’t deny that your tree looks fabulous in front of that full-length window. Your decorating skills are second only to your gift-wrapping abilities. But the great view might also attract would-be burglars who can easily smash the window and snatch your family’s presents. Consider putting your tree in another location, keeping valuable gifts out of view, or at least closing your blinds when you leave home.
3. Leaving your spare key in its usual place.
Let’s be honest: that decorative planter/frog/rock isn’t fooling anyone. When you leave for a trip, remove your spare key. Better yet, give it to a close friend who’s staying in town. Ask him or her to check in every few days to pick up your mail and check the faucets if you live in a colder area where freezing pipes are a concern.
4. Leaving all your lights off – or on.
Most people know that a dark house is a clear signal that nobody’s home. But if you’re tempted to just leave your lights on, think about the damage you may be doing to your electric bill – and your efforts to “go green.” Instead, consider investing in a light switch timer. You can set the timer to turn lights on and off at specific times of day, which simulates your regular routine.
5. Decking the halls without checking the cords.
More than 400 people die each year in electrical-related house fires. Check your lights for frayed cords or cracked bulbs before stringing them on your tree or roof. Don’t connect more than one extension cord, either – if it’s not long enough, buy a new one. And as lovely as they may be, don’t leave your Christmas tree or outdoor lights on overnight or while you’re traveling. Using an outdoor timer makes it a no-brainer!
We hope these tips will help you and your family stay safe and make the most of your holiday together!