Home Safety Tips
In many cases of home burglaries, thieves enter the house through a door or window that was left unlocked. Keep in mind that there’s more at stake than your possessions - a significant number of violent crimes that occur in the home are committed during household burglaries. Following are some tips on how to protect your home and your family from burglars.
- Lock all doors and windows when you leave the house and while sleeping.
- Install a dead-bolt and a secondary locking system on doors that lead outside.
- Using a lock that can only be operated from the inside is an extra security measure.
- Remember that back doors with glass panels can be especially vulnerable. Consider installing double-cylinder locks, where you need a key to unlock both sides, so that a burglar can’t enter your home simply by breaking the glass next to the lock. Also, insert a board at the bottom of the door, to prevent the door from sliding.
- Be suspicious of anyone who asks to enter your home for any type of “maintenance” reason. There are numerous cases of impersonating electricians or gas inspectors who turn out to be dangerous. Always demand to see an official company ID.
- Install peepholes or wide-angle viewers in your doors.
- Replace burned out light bulbs quickly. Thieves like homes with inadequate lighting. Consider incorporating lighting into your landscaping.
- Keep trees and shrubs around doorways, windows and porches trimmed. The bushes that provide privacy also give burglars a place to hide. Dense shrubs can even make for a makeshift ladder, helping a thief into your home through a window.
- Consider installing an alarm system.
Home Fire Prevention Tips
- Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, many resulting from unattended cooking or human error.
- If you smoke, consider smolder-resistant bedding and upholstered furniture, which act as significant fire deterrents.
- Don’t overload circuits or extension cords. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell.
- Wood stoves should sit on a non-combustible surface. Fireplaces should have non-combustible materials around the opening and hearth. Space heaters should be placed on a firm surface at least three feet away from combustible items.
- Gasoline and other flammable liquids should never be used to start a wood fire as they might cause it to explode or flare up.
- Inspect and clean chimneys and vents annually.
- Consider fire-safe landscaping for your property by creating a defensible space between your home and flammable vegetation.
Escape Safely in Fire Incidents
- One of the single most important ways you can protect your family is by having a working smoke detector on every floor of your house.
- In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can grow into a major fire. An average house can fill with thick black smoke in minutes. Escape first, then call for help.
- Develop a home fire escape plan. Practice it with your children and designate a meeting place outside.
- Never open doors that are hot. Establish two different ways to get out of each room.
- Practice how to open locked or barred doors and windows. Make sure that security bars on your windows and doors have a quick-release device so you can open them immediately.
- Always crawl low under smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. Even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath.
- Familiarize your children with the sound of your smoke alarm and teach them not to hide from firefighters.
- Test each smoke alarm every month and replace the batteries at least once a year. Replace smoke alarms every 10 years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Credit/Debit Cards and Checks
- Keep credit/debit cards, personal checks and cash in a safe place.
- Shop with credit/debit cards or checks when possible. They are less likely to be stolen than cash.
- Keep a record of all credit/debit card account numbers and telephone numbers associated with these accounts.
- Photocopy both front and back of all your credit/debit cards and keep the copies in a secure location.
- Do not keep Personal Identification numbers (PIN) in any location that may be associated with the cards they activate.
- Do not give account numbers over the telephone, by mail, or online unless certain of the company’s service and credibility.
- Always keep credit/debit card receipts.
- Report the loss or theft of credit/debit cards immediately to the issuing authority.
- File a police report immediately. This proves to credit providers that you are diligent and is the first step toward an investigation.
- Exercise caution when sharing personal information over the internet, the telephone or in person.
- Do no put your credit card or QID number on the internet unless it is encrypted on a secured site.
- Do not put your telephone number, QID number or telephone number on checks or your credit receipts.
- Cancel all credit cards you have not used in the last six months.
- Shred all documents, including preapproved credit applications received in your name, insurance forms, bank checks, statements and other financial information you are discarding.
- If victimized, notify the financial institutions where your accounts may have been tampered with. Closing accounts may be necessary.
- Place a watch on all checks coming through your account to ensure only checks you wrote are paid. Check online accounts regularly to insure proper status.
- Change your ATM PIN number periodically and do not share with anyone.
ATM Safety Tips
- Be alert at all times when using any ATM (walk-up, drive-up, inside and outside). After completing your transaction, leave immediately.
- Avoid using an ATM in an isolated or poorly lighted area after dark.
- Be accompanied by another person when using an ATM after dark.
- Refrain from displaying cash. Place cash in your pocket or purse as soon as the transaction is completed.
- If you notice anyone or anything that seems suspicious when using or considering the use of an ATM, don’t make the transaction; use another ATM or return at a later time.
- Report all crimes to the operator of the ATM or to local law enforcement officials.
- Protect your ATM or Debit card as you would cash or a credit card and never let anyone else use it. Do not share the PIN # associated with your card.
- Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not write it on your card or leave it in your wallet.