August 13, 2013 12:04 am
According to Chris Falkenberg, a former U.S. Secret Service Agent and president of Insite Security, an unprecedented amount of people fail to take the necessary steps to ensure their homes are properly protected for the fall and winter months. While working with clients and companies on risk preparedness and physical security planning, Falkenberg suggests the following tips for keeping homes safe while you’re away.
Have a Professional Check Your Alarm
Having a professional check your alarm system on an annual basis can help ensure that you are never prone to failures when your safety and security is on the line. A trusted and experienced electronic security installer will be able to assess your system prior to closing the house up for the season to determine if any part should be replaced in a preventative nature. “Like any other electrical component, alarms will fail as some parts simply wear out. You don’t want them to fail when you need them most,” says Falkenberg.
If your alarm is set off, someone needs to be alerted that something is awry at your home. If you live too far away to travel to the home yourself, having a family friend or contact in the community that is available on short notice to go to the house and open the door for police is a must. Police can then conduct outside inspections and look for indoor damage from water or excessive cold and hot temperatures. Your alarm will detect the problems but it is the response to those signals and the further analysis that gives the alarms their best value.
Assess Fire Risk before Leaving
Fires are a huge risk to summer homes. It’s extremely important to make a thorough assessment of fire risk, both as to what equipment can be put in the house to prevent fire and also what kind of insurance coverage you should have if a fire does occur in a closed summer home. Falkenberg recommends having your insurance placed into effect by an independent agent who writes insurance for many different carriers and one who will make sure that all your valuables are covered. You don’t want to find out that you weren’t adequately covered after an incident occurs.
One fire risk that is always an issue is turpentine, other types of flammable cleaning liquids and the rags used for cleaning and finishing, says Falkenberg. Homeowners often leave dirty rags and flammable objects around to spontaneously combust. Though the risk has been known forever, it’s a common mistake often overlooked. Be aware of this if you are renovating, and make sure the contractor is cognizant of this as well.
Install a Sprinkler System if Possible
If you are building a new summer house, installing a residential sprinkler system is a smart idea. Sprinklers can greatly reduce the risk of fire, however, because they cannot be turned off remotely or electronically. They can also be a prime source of water damage. Have an important contact ready on call, and make sure they know where the water values are to shut off the system.
Other Measures Do Not Replace Strong Locks
Just because you have an alarm system doesn’t mean you should neglect having strong locks in place. Secure your home with extra deadbolt locks prior to closing. For houses with lots of glass exposure, consider security window film to make it harder to break.
“The important thing to take away is that this is a starting point—a series of things to think about when trying to consider security risk and mitigating that risk,” says Falkenberg. “People need to focus on themselves and then make sure their security is squared away, or alternatively, get somebody who knows a lot about security to help advise them or safeguard them while they’re away.”
Published with permission from RISMedia.