Holiday Home Security
As the year rolls to a close, family and friends gather to celebrate late autumn and winter holidays. Whether you're traveling or staying close to the hearth this year to decorate and celebrate, don't lose sight of your highest year-round priority: keeping your family and property safe.
To help you prepare, let's take a closer look at common seasonal safety and security issues.
What are some common holiday safety issues?
Although tinsel and traditions are understandably top of mind, holiday safety is important, too. Tucked into the busiest season of the year are several potential risks and hazards.
Packages left on porches, homeowners visibly having left town and doors left unlocked accidentally — all of these can create conditions for theft.
Candles, holiday decorations and warm fireplaces give everything a cozy glow, but they can also put a home at risk without the right precaution and care.
For all the nostalgia evoked by songs about winter wonderlands, the reality is that cold temperatures and freezing precipitation can create problems for both people and homes.
How to keep your home and belongings secure when you’re home or away
Taking proactive steps, you can help protect your home and loved ones year-round. During the holidays, however, it's smart to take extra time to safeguard your house and possessions. The National Neighborhood Watch suggests ways to keep your home safer and more secure during the holidays.1
- Start outside: Ensure exterior lights are in good working order. Having proper lighting helps avoid dark areas where people can hide. Outdoor lights might stay on after dark or be motion-activated. If you are leaving town, it is good to light the interior as well — place interior lights on a timer.
- Lock doors and windows when leaving, even if you’re only going a short distance. Limiting access is one way to help prevent theft.
- Limit access to thieves by being careful with whom you give access to your home (and how). When traveling, leave an extra key with a trusted friend or neighbor — not under the mat, planter or an obvious place for a thief. You don’t want your key falling into the wrong hands.
- Arrange to pick up packages or have them delivered to your work address rather than left on the front porch. Nationally, “porch pirates” stole more than 49 million packages in 2022.2
- Stop mail and other deliveries when traveling. A full mailbox or multiple newspapers lying in front of the house can signal that the house is unattended.
- Use caution when sharing that you’re going to be away. You don’t want to broadcast your absence. And don’t share your plans — or your holiday getaway photos — on social media until you’re back home.3
- Keep wrapped packages and other valuables out of sight — and away from windows.
How to decorate more safely during the holidays
The combination of seasonal decorations, candles and fireplaces makes the holidays warm and inviting. But be sure you’re decorating with care by following the National Safety Council’s tips for decorating safely.4
- Be cautious with ladders, and choose one suited to the location. Never use furniture as a ladder.
- Use indoor lights only indoors and outdoor lights outdoors. Be sure to inspect indoor and outdoor lights closely and check for frayed or exposed wires.5 Those can be a fire hazard.
- Refrain from overloading outlets. Always follow package directions for the number of light strands that can be plugged into one socket or extension cord.
- Purchase and use lights from reputable retailers and testing labs (e.g., UL Listed). When using an artificial tree, verify that it is fire resistant.
- Never leave lit candles unattended. Keep them on a stable surface, away from children and flammable objects.
- Place fresh and artificial greenery away from fireplaces, candles and vents. And be sure to keep fresh greenery watered so it’s not a fire risk.
- Make sure fire extinguishers and smoke alarms are in good working order. Test and replace alarm batteries to be sure they work.6
How to stay safe when it turns cold
In the winter months, it’s important to protect yourself and your home against the cold.
- Winterize your home in advance of storms by protecting exposed pipes, clearing out gutters and repairing roof leaks. Be sure that trees are trimmed so branches do not extend over your home. This can help prevent damage during freezes.
- Have your heating system serviced and ensure it is ventilated to the outside. A cold snap is not when you want your heating system to fail.
- Install and use certified carbon monoxide detectors that are either battery operated or have a battery backup. The National Safety Council notes that carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for hundreds of deaths each year — and tens of thousands are treated for symptoms.7
- Get fireplaces and chimneys cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
Taking proactive steps to help prevent theft, fire and weather-related incidents doesn’t mean the unfortunate won’t happen. But if it does, you’ll want an insurance agency you can count on to help you through it.
We’re here to help.
To learn more about homeowner insurance coverage options, request a quote or have us review your existing policy for added peace of mind, reach out to us today.
Last updated November 2023
Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.
RBFCU Insurance Agency LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RBFCU Services LLC. RBFCU Services LLC is affiliated with Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU). Insurance products are not deposits; are not obligations of the credit union; not NCUA insured; and not guaranteed by RBFCU Insurance Agency LLC, RBFCU Services LLC or RBFCU.
RBFCU Insurance Agency is an independent insurance agency. It is the role of the RBFCU Insurance Agent to obtain quotes from multiple carriers and offer comparisons to determine adequate insurance coverage.
Insurance coverage, discounts and other features are subject to individual eligibility and availability.
The following sources were last accessed July 2023.
1“Holiday Safety and Crime Prevention Tips.” Nnw.org, https://nnw.org/holiday-safety.
2“2022 Package Theft Annual Report.” Security.org, 23 Nov. 2021, https://www.security.org/package-theft/annual-report/.
3“Social Media Safety Tips.” Ncpc.org, http://archive.ncpc.org/programs/living-safer-being-smarter/surfing-safer/social-media-safety-tips.html.
4“Holiday Safety - National Safety Council.” Nsc.org, https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/seasonal-safety/winter-safety/holiday.
5“Holiday Decoration Safety Tips.” Cpsc.gov, https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/611.pdf.
6“Smoke Alarms: Where to Put Them, How Often to Replace Batteries.” Texas Department of Insurance, https://www.tdi.texas.gov/tips/smoke-alarms-where-to-put-them-how-often-to-replace-batteries.html.
7“Winter Safety Home - National Safety Council.” Nsc.org, https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/seasonal-safety/winter-safety/winter.