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Protect yourself against home burglary

Whether you live in a house, a condo or an apartment, every home in every neighborhood is a target for burglary.
Fortunately, burglary is probably the most preventable of crimes. By taking a few simple precautions, you can dramatically reduce the risks.

How to prevent break-ins:

  • Fool them by making your home look occupied all the time.
  • Use automatic timers on lights when away from home.
  • Always park your cars in the garage with the garage door shut. A burglar may otherwise notice a pattern that a closed garage door or no cars in the driveway means no one is home. Closing the garage door and having curtains or blinds on the garage windows also hides some of your belongings.
  • Place radios on automatic timers and raise the volume so they can be heard outside.
  • Lower the sound of your telephone ringer and answering machine so that they can't be heard outside.
  • Never leave notes on your door that can tip off burglars.
  • Install a home burglar alarm systems. They are an effective deterrent.

When away for more than a day:

  • If possible, have your telephone calls forwarded when you are away from home. Burglars sometimes check to see if someone is home by making a telephone call.
  • Have a trusted neighbor pick up the mail and newspaper. If possible, do not have either stopped. That gives information about you being away from home to others whom you do not know.
  • If away for an extended period, have a plan in place to have the grass mowed or snow shoveled.
  • If you are away from home on garbage pickup day, ask a trusted neighbor to put your garbage cans out to the street and take them back in. You may wish to have your neighbor use your garbage cans while you are out. Burglars sometimes check for empty cans as a sign the family is away.
  • There are systems available that will open and close window draperies by timer. Constantly open or closed curtains can tip the burglar off that no one is home.
  • Even if you don't need specific help, always tell a trusted neighbor if you are going to be gone for a few days.
  • If you are going to be gone for an extended period, ask your local police to check your home periodically.

Eliminate hiding places

  • Make sure there is good lighting around the place where you park.
  • Install motion detector lights around your house instead of just leaving lights on at night. The lights coming on and turning off attract the attention of neighbors. Install these lights at least 8 feet above the ground so they are more difficult to disable.
  • Install the motion detector lights so they light all doors and windows. Doors, since they are the preferred entry point, should be the first priority to illuminate, followed by windows.
  • Remove bushes and shrubs from around the house, especially under windows and next to doors. Keep your yard free of overgrowth.
  • If you DO have shrubs and bushes, select ones with thorns to deter potential intruders from hiding in them.
  • Install a security alarm system with a loud alarm and/or flashing lights. This will attract the attention of neighbors. If you install an alarm, display the decals, and remember to test the system periodically.

Use common sense caution

  • Always lock all doors and windows when you leave the house.
  • Use a peephole to identify visitors before opening your door.
  • Do not hide spare keys outside your home, instead give one to a trusted neighbor.
  • Do not provide your house keys to service people.
  • Do not invite strangers into your home.
  • Do not have money or jewelry lying out in view from a window. If possible, keep jewelry and other small valuables and important documents in a safe deposit box.
  • Do not tell strangers your daily routines.
  • If you are at home working outside, leave all other doors that are out of sight locked.
  • Avoid telling others about the valuables in your home.
  • If you have children, discuss home security with them, such as not talking with strangers about their home, its contents or family schedules.
  • When moving into a new residence, have the locks changed.
  • Consult a good locksmith to make sure you have the correct types of locks on your doors and windows.
  • Secure your exterior doors and any doors from attached garages by installing:
    • Good quality deadbolt door locks
    • Security-type door strikes
    • Strong, properly installed doors and doorframes that cannot be spread apart
    • Security-type hinges
  • Secure your windows by installing additional locks and installing impact-resistant glass on any windows within 42" of a door lock. This will make it more difficult to break the glass, reach in, and unlock the lock.
  • Prune lower branches of trees near your house if they could help a burglar gain access to a second story window.
  • Secure your patio door with a pin-type lock, a key lock, or a steel rod inserted into the door channel.

Secure your garage by installing automatic openers or bolt-type locks on each end of the garage doors.


Fire Safety at Home

Fire is one of the greatest threats to your family and home. Fire has the potential to wipe out everything in its path in just minutes. It can smolder undetected for hours, and then suddenly explode in fiery destruction. Most of these fires can be prevented. Listed below are some helpful tips to keep your family and home safe from fire.

  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms throughout the house. Test them periodically to make sure they work. Batteries should be changed at least once a year.
  • Place fire extinguishers in the kitchen and other rooms. Make sure you know how to use them.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Turn off appliances when they are not in use.
  • Run electrical cords along walls, not under rugs.
  • Don't overload outlets and extension cords.
  • Never store flammable liquids such as cleaning agents and paint supplies near heating units.
  • Keep space heaters a safe distance from combustibles. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Have more than one escape route from your home. Practice these routes with your family.

A Recipe for Careful Cooking

  • Keep flammable objects such as curtains, aprons and dishtowels away from stoves.
  • Never wear loose clothing near a stovetop while cooking.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. Don't cook if you are drowsy.
  • Heat oil slowly. Heating oil too quickly can easily start a fire.
  • If a pan catches fire, carefully place a lid over the pan and turn off the heat. Leave the lid on until completely cool.
  • Always clean appliances and surfaces after cooking to prevent grease buildup.
  • Make sure handles on cookware are secure and always turned toward the center of the stove when cooking.
  • Use a step stool instead of a chair to climb to a high shelf.


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