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Winter and Disaster Prep

Put Your Home Security System at the Top of Your Holiday Checklist

The holidays are a time of celebration and good cheer with family and friends. Unfortunately, we also find the holiday season brings an uptick in home burglaries. In several states, December is the peak month for burglaries, as homes are left unattended during the holidays, according to the FBI.

We also see a greater risk of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, winter holiday fires are more severe than the average fire across all loss measures.

Testing a home’s security system before the festivities begin is the easiest way to add an extra layer of comfort to the season. Below are a few tips for your home security holiday checklist:

1. Change passwords

Change the passwords to your security system and any internet-connected device. A strong password should use a combination of letters, characters and numbers so it is difficult for hackers to guess. Don’t retain the username or password that came with the system or device.

2. Restrict access

Update home security passcodes and personal contact lists with your home security monitoring company. Delete anyone from the list who should no longer have access, change passcodes if necessary and make sure everyone in your home has memorized the new codes. Provide temporary passcodes to anyone who may need access to your home during the holidays, such as a guest, housekeeper or a pet sitter.

3. Alert while away

While traveling during the holidays, alert your home security monitoring service and provide them with detailed contact information. Consider installing an audio or video verification system so your monitoring company can hear or see what is happening if an alarm is triggered while your home is vacant. Confirm audio or video verification is functioning properly before you leave for holiday trips.

4. Update software

Make certain your home security system, smart home devices and smart phone are utilizing the most current software and operating systems. Do a test run to validate that all are properly connected — and working as they should — before leaving home for a holiday trip. Additionally, enable the auto-locking feature on smartphones and enable features that will make it easy to wipe any personal information in the event the device is lost or stolen.

5. Test the system

Check video surveillance cameras to ensure they are pointing at entryways and other high priority areas while you are away. Test motion detector, security lighting systems and smoke detectors as well. Don’t make this a last minute to-do list item.

Assist elderly parents and loved ones by performing a check on their home security system. While doing so, look into new smart home technologies that can help loved ones age in place.

Immediately schedule a service call if any home security system problems are identified.

Merlin Guilbeau, Executive Director and CEO, Electronic Security Association, [email protected]

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