Sleighbells ring, are you listening? Burglar in the distance? He’s packing away, your new hi-def screen into his white utility truck. Later on, while you visit, relatives oh who is it? They’re packing away the new bikes you bought, while you’re out oblivious of your luck.
That’s right, nothing can ruin the holidays more than someone taking advantage of your holiday cheer, no matter how cute their jingle may be. With Christmas just days away, don’t give the bad guys a holiday bonus! Follow these “smart” safety tips to get ahead of riff-raff while protecting your home during the holidays, including the installation of a home security system.
1. Resist the Urge to Share Your Plans Online
Rule No. 1. Do not, under any circumstance, broadcast your travel plans over social media. Yes, we know how excited you are to go on that trip you’ve been planning for months (or just going to grandma’s). But, whatever you do, don’t make a peep about your trip online. You may not think you’re friends with anyone shady, but you never know who is keeping track of your whereabouts. On that note, take a moment to adjust your privacy settings on Facebook (including who is allowed to tag you or making it such that you have to approve all photo tags), so that no one else can break your cover while you’re away.
By sharing the details of where you are going and when you are leaving (including any time you publicly RSVP to parties, school events, concerts, or any other event), you are essentially telling the world that your house is empty, and giving an intruder an invitation to target your home. The same logic applies to sharing photos, especially if you’re updating your status or uploading photos in real-time. So, go on that trip. Visit Grandma. Heck, go out to that fancy dinner you’ve been dreaming about, but keep it to yourself until you’ve returned home.
2. Use Some Common Sense
While you don’t have to go to the extreme lengths that Kevin McCallister went to in Home Alone, use a little common sense and make sure your windows and doors are locked at a minimum if you’re going out of town. You may also want to consider programming your outdoor lights to switch on at dusk and off at dawn, as well as leave one of your cars parked in the driveway so that it appears as if someone is at home. Of course, be sure to lock the car too. Intruders tend to be lazy, so if the doors are locked, they’ll likely move onto the next house.
On a similar note, do not leave gifts (wrapped or unwrapped) within a visible range of the exterior of your home, such as windows. Like any valuables, the more visible they are, the more incentive burglars have to break-in and retrieve them. If your tree is in front of a window and you insist on wrapping your presents and keeping them under the tree, you may want to pull your curtains closed.
Read More: Check Our Holiday Gift Guides Here
Once the holidays are over, be sure to break down any boxes from expensive gifts such as TVs or laptops. You might even want to take them to another drop point for disposal. If you leave the boxes curbside, you’re providing anyone who passes by insight into the expensive belongings inside your home.
3. Knock off Porch Pirates
One of the biggest giveaways that no one is home is a pile of packages at the front door like a sitting duck. Therefore, if you’re planning to be away for any length of time, have a plan for your mail and packages.
The United States Postal Service is great about holding mail, forwarding mail, and redirecting packages as long as you are willing to think ahead and request the service. If you’re away, simply hold your mail for that period and have your mail carrier either deliver anything received during your trip to your home once you return or hold them at the post office to retrieve at your convenience.
Other Shipping Providers
Most other shipping providers (including UPS and FedEx) will also allow you to postpone delivery until you know someone is home or will “hide” your packages for you if given specific instructions. Be sure to sign up for each of their home delivery management programs to be notified when packages are being delivered and communicate if you need to make a change to your delivery.
If you live in a city or high-foot traffic area, the safest way to protect yourself from porch pirates is to have your packages delivered to a local store for pickup, to your office (if that’s an option) or delivered to an alternate location. For example, FedEx recently started a service in which they’ll leave your packages at your local Walgreens (and other businesses) for pick-up during specific hours, especially if your package requires a signature rather than leaving it on your doorstep. Meanwhile, Amazon offers Amazon Locker where you can pick up packages at your own convenience.
In addition to just keeping packages off your front porch, you can also add video surveillance to your house to track any activity that may happen upon your doorstep. There are a number of options. Some prefer the community that RING offers with its smart doorbell which has been known to track down package thievery fast as neighbors are able to post video footage to online forums. Others like the inconspicuous nature of something like the Maximus Smart Security Light (or similar cameras that can be tucked away in alcoves) which send real-time notifications to your phone so you can see and speak to whoever may be lurking around your house.
At a more basic level, simply take a walk around your property. A porch pirate could easily turn into a curious criminal under the wrong set of circumstances. Inspect the exterior of your home to ensure that pathways are clear, bushes are trimmed and that you’re not providing a thief with any potential hiding spots. If a robber thinks that no one is paying attention, they’re more likely to take a leap from package bandit to burglary.
4. Tell Your Neighbors
Building on the previous point, if you’re going to be away from your home for more than 24 hours, you may want to ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home for any suspicious activity. If you’ve got a good relationship with that neighbor, you might even ask them to pick up your mail (if you aren’t having it held), move packages off your doorstep, or return your garbage can. Granted, you’ll definitely be asked to return the favor, but this personal approach is worth the effort.
5. Make Sure Your Home Security System WORKS!
If you have a home security system, make sure it works and you’re using it. There’s nothing worse than assuming you’re protected in case of an emergency or break-in, only to find out that your system isn’t functioning or having a system in place but not activating it. Run a diagnostic test annually to ensure that all systems are good to go before you skip out of town!
If you don’t already have a home security system in place, the holidays are the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon, but there are a few things you should think about before customizing a system to meet your needs.
- Traditional alarm systems have sensors on doors and windows. They will alert you or law enforcement that an intruder has entered your home. A home security system can also alert you of environmental dangers, such as fire, carbon monoxide, and even flooding.
- A common concern for many homeowners is whether or not a security system will continue to operate during power outages or if the internet is disconnected.
- Size is important. There’s no such thing as a one size fits all security system so be sure you consider the size of your home and how many points of entry into your home you have before customizing your system.
- Even if you are on a tight budget, you can have a home security system. Whether you focus solely on monitoring your windows and doors to prevent intruders, or you’re interested in a much larger, advanced program including asset protection, there are affordable options to meet your needs.
- Installation varies depending on the type of system you purchase. A traditional wired system needs to be installed by a professional and requires drilling and connection to a phone line. On the other hand, you can often install a wireless system on your own. Drilling is not required and the system often uses either a wifi connection or cell towers for monitoring.
- Security cameras are on-trend right now in home-security (and they certainly are nice), but they don’t necessarily mean that your home is any more protected.
- You may be eligible for a reduction on your home insurance premiums by having a home security system installed. Check with your insurance provider for specific requirements to receive such a discount.
Cove Security System
“Protect your home like a hero” this holiday season in the form of Cove Security. The bottom line is that burglars are most attracted to homes that do not have home security systems in place. Unfortunately, according to a recent study, only 17% of houses are being monitored. So, by simply installing a system this season, you are 300% less likely to be burglarized. While Cove is a relatively new DIY home security system company, their company is composed of security experts that have worked in the security business for years. Their goal is to provide customers with high quality but low-cost security solution.
As such, Cove makes it simple for homeowners to customize a system that meets all of their needs. Just select the number of doors, window, remotes, smoke detectors or whatever else you want and they’ll ship it out within 24 hours.
If you’ve never experienced a DIY home security system, it may be a tad bit overwhelming, but the installation process is pretty easy. We experienced a tiny snafu while trying to set it up the first time (our control panel couldn’t establish a connection and locked up), but customer service walked us through the entire process and helped us get connected to AT&T’s cell tower, attach our door sensors and test the system. Note that while Cove currently relies on AT&T’s towers, they have plans to connect with Verizon and Sprint over the next year.
It’s also worth noting that while customer service accessibility is limited to business hours; if you call after-hours (including weekends), you can leave a message. The rep we spoke to said that messages are immediately sent out to service representatives and returned within 1-2 hours max.
The Control Panel
Every home security system has a control panel. Cove is no different, although we particularly love that Cove has given the traditional keypad an upgrade. The Cove Touch Alarm is a full-colored touchscreen that easily connects all of your Cove security devices wirelessly in one place and lets you arm and disarm your system with a push of a single button. While it connects wirelessly, it does require an AC power source. But, it also comes with a 24-hour backup battery and includes a built-in audible alarm that will activate when your Cove system triggers an event. Choose to mount your panel to the wall or find a spot on your countertop.
You can have up to 20 customized user codes connected to your Cove Touch Alarm panel at any time, that can be enabled or disabled at any time. It also includes a 2-way audio feature that allows you to directly communicate with your central monitoring station.
Cove addresses the concern that your system would stop working if disconnected by including “Crash and Smash technology.” This means that your Cove Touch Alarm has a cellular chip that can transmit a signal to the central monitoring station even if your control panel has been damaged or tampered with. It will even make sure your system is working properly by using its self-diagnosing software that constantly makes sure your hub and security devices are working properly.
Sensors and Other Equipment
In addition to Cove’s Touch Panel Alarm, you need a few other pieces of DIY equipment for effective monitoring.
Your first line of defense with Cove is their door and window sensors. These sensors are battery-operated, wireless and can be installed on either your door or window frames with command strips (no drilling required). When a door or window with one of these sensors on it is opened, you will immediately be alerted. If you don’t want an audible alert, you can quiet this function on the alarm panel. Sensors are prenamed for you (side door, front door, back door, etc), but you can change their name using the control panel.
Cove’s motion sensors are also wireless and battery operated with a battery life of up to 5 years. These should be installed in large rooms where you want whole areas covered (such as your living room, kitchen, upstairs loft space, etc). Cove’s motion sensors are pet and robo-vac immune which means that anything under 45 pounds will not trigger an alarm.
Glass break sensors
If you have a lot of windows in your home, glass break sensors are the perfect addition to your security setup (and much cheaper than applying window sensors to every window). One glass break sensor can cover multiple windows and has a range of 360-degrees, so you shouldn’t have to add a lot of them.
Finally, Cove offers a keychain remote. This “keyfob” has four buttons that allow you to arm your system in stay, away or home mode. It also includes a built-in panic button that will immediately alert your central monitoring stations that there is an emergency. These are perfect if you have kids that like to race into the house before you’re able to punch in your code, or for your babysitter so you don’t have to assign a code.
The Cove App
While technically not a piece of equipment, Cove’s App is one of our favorite features. If you forget to set the alarm before leaving the house or just want to check the status of your alarm, you can just check the app. We love the versatility of arming and un-arming the house even if we’re not at home.
Complete Home Security Monitoring
If you want to expand your home security system from a basic intruder alarm system to a complete home security monitoring system, Cove has everything you need.
Smoke detectors are required in most homes and buildings, however, do those detectors trigger emergency personnel in the event of a fire? Traditional fire alarms make a lot of noise (especially when the battery dies), but do nothing for the safety of your home or priceless keepsakes if you’re not there to call 911.
With Cove, smart smoke detectors are wireless and battery-operated (with a battery life of 5 years like all of their sensors); but most importantly, they are monitored 24/7 to make sure you and your local authorities are notified of any potential fires, putting your home and family’s safety first. Cove’s smoke detectors also have a self-testing feature that runs a self-test every 60 seconds to make sure that everything is working correctly.
Carbon monoxide sensor
Carbon monoxide is no joke, yet many homes do not have any sort of CO detector in place. If protecting your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning is of interest to you, choose Cove. If carbon monoxide is ever detected, an alarm will sound, an alert will display on your Cove Touch security panel, and you’ll be immediately notified by Cove’s 24/7 professional monitoring station.
If your home is near water or in a flood plain, you might be interested in Cove’s flood or water leak detectors that can help protect your home from unexpected water damage. Flood sensors monitor your home 24/7 for leaks or flood issues. When a sensor has been covered with water, it will trigger your security system and notify the authorities.
Medical alert system
Finally, Cove’s medical alert system is a great addition to your home security system, especially if you have someone in your home who has medical issues. Each medical alert button is pre-programmed with your Cove Touch panel. You can use this alert system as a medical life alert button for you (or a loved one) to wear or use it as a panic button if you have a break-in while you’re home. Its portable design also allows it to be easily transported from place to place. With a couple of touches of the screen, you can confirm your medical alert button is functioning and you’re ready to go.
Cove currently does not have a security camera that integrates with the touch panel like all of the other equipment, but they do offer a free YI indoor camera with most system purchases that enhances the home monitoring experience. While it does require a separate app, it’s a nice way to check-in on your home while you’re away or just check-in on your children from another room.
Remember, the holidays are more than a gift exchange, and home security goes much further than burglary prevention. Be proactive and protect your home this Christmas by putting these steps into action and installing a Cove home security system. With packages starting as low as $15 a month, you can’t afford not to.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Protecting your home during the holidays goes beyond thief prevention. Check out these 4 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe During the Holidays.