Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in June 2020 and has been revised to reflect industry updates.
When you think of summer, you may automatically conjure thoughts of family vacations, beaches, swimming pools, picnics in the park, or walks on the boardwalk. Security measures won’t likely be top of mind, but with the change in season also comes new threats and risks, such as household property crimes.
According to a special report from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), researchers analyzing 17 years of data found that compared to the summer, household property victimization rates were 7 and 8 percent lower in the winter and spring, respectively, and 3 percent lower in the fall.
“In all of the years except 1995, rates of household property victimization appeared highest in summer and lowest in either winter or spring," the report states.
With higher rates of such crimes in the hotter months, it’s important to understand how to secure and protect your family and home.
Check out these 15 summer security tips and best practices from General Security, and how such methods can be supported by smart home technologies.
1. Close & Lock Windows & Doors
As the warmer weather rolls in, you’re more likely to open windows or leave doors ajar to let in a breeze through the screen door. In the summer months, it’s easy to forget about these. This also applies to garage doors inadvertently left open while packing for a vacation or day trip.
Even if you didn't remember to double check your doors and windows, this can all be managed through General Security's Smart Home Systems. Such technology enables users to control various interior and exterior security settings from any mobile device via the Alarm.com app.
Consider attaching tilt or contact sensors to windows with air-conditioning units. Both can be connected to alarm systems providing real-time alerts should a separation or "tilt" occur as the window slides up.
2. Keep Valuables Out of Plain Sight
Keeping doors and windows open also increases the chances of outsiders spotting valuables inside your home. Ensure expensive items such as computers, tablets, phones or jewelry are out of plain sight or stored in safes or other inconspicuous and secure locations. Also be mindful of your vehicles as potential targets. Any valuables should be hidden from view or brought into your home. It’s important you don’t leave a garage door opener in your car, especially if your garage is connected to your home.
3. Install a Smart Home Security System
As aforementioned, our Smart Home Systems provide real-time control and monitoring from any mobile device. Adequate alarm coverage on your home and garage doors and windows is paramount to deter potential thieves and break-ins. Should any be left open or unlocked while out, you can remotely control them from your mobile device.
4. Purchase Security Cameras
Install indoor or outdoor cameras for added peace of mind while you're away, to deter potential intruders. This is especially important since thefts historically increase during warmer months.
Adding wired or wireless doorbell cameras provides additional safeguards, such as wide-angle viewing, night vision, motion detection, and video surveillance. These also enable you to remotely answer and unlock doors for a house sitter, delivery person, or other services personnel.
To learn more, check out our blog:
5. Add Outdoor Motion-Activated Lights
Adding motion-activated lights around the perimeter of your property can be the first line of defense against burglars. These security measures can thwart potential intruders and alert you if someone is moving around outside.
Utilizing security cameras with video analytics is an added protective layer. This smart technology includes user-designated virtual tripwires and activity zones to control outdoor lighting or play music if a specific threshold is crossed by trespassers.
6. Don't Promote Your Vacation on Social Media
As tempting as it may be to post a photo of you lying on the sand or sipping a cocktail by the pool, wait until you return from your travels to share these moments online. This is important because your social media followers may include several people you actually don’t know. If your profile is public, anyone can access your accounts and gain a full view of travel updates you’ve posted. Sharing this risks alerting potential thieves of your absence, and the vulnerability of your home.
Since an empty home provides the perfect opportunity for a break-in, it’s best to keep home security in mind before hitting the post button on a vacation status update. Refrain from checking-in or tagging locations of hotels or airports, and be sure to turn off your phone and social media GPS tracking location features.
7. Make it Appear as Though You're Home
If you have a smart security system, you can control your home protection from anywhere in the world. This means you can create a smart scene, through geofencing, to remotely activate several functions such as lights, televisions, and sound systems at certain times.
Consider smart outlets and LED bulbs to control your home's lighting. The Alarm.com app can be utilized to schedule when lights or other electronics turn on and shut down each day. You can also set an app rule to activate smart bulbs should your camera detect outdoor motion.
If you’re going to be away for a prolonged period, make sure your lawn is regularly serviced and watered. You can also remotely manage your outdoor sprinkler system's watering schedules. This ensures a well-kept appearance as though you’re home and actively caring for the property.
If you’re going to be away for a prolonged period, make sure your lawn is regularly serviced and watered. You can also remotely manage your outdoor sprinkler system's watering schedules.
8. Ask a Neighbor to Help
Consider enlisting a friendly neighbor to help with keeping up appearances while you’re away. If they agree to look after the house, ask them to grab your mail each day and park their car in your driveway. This makes it appear as though someone is home, plus it can keep your neighbor’s car off the street.
9. Find a House Sitter
If you can’t find a neighbor to mind your home, try asking a friend or relative to stay. This can put your mind at ease, knowing your home isn’t left unattended. Be sure to inform your neighbors someone is staying at your home, so they don’t think there’s an intruder on your property.
10. Be Conscious of Spare Keys
It may seem like a good idea to keep a spare key under an object in the front or back of your home to prevent lockouts. However, these situations are rare, and the risk is higher that someone may use this to break in. If you insist on having access to spare keys, keep them in your wallet or purse, but don’t write your address on them. While on vacation, you may give a key to your neighbor, friend or relative, so they can check in on pets or take care of other matters. Ensure you get it back once you’ve returned home.
Alternatively, smart door locks with mobile alerts remove worries of lost or stolen keys and inform you if a door is unlocked, ajar, or opened by an unauthorized user.
11. Implement 24/7 Central Station Monitoring
As aforementioned, one of the best ways to keep your home safe is to have someone watch it when you’re away. Investing in a 24/7 Central Station Monitoring service provides even higher peace of mind knowing a professional team is your around-the- clock secret guardian. This system will immediately alert first responders and local authorities in the event of an emergency.
12. Keep Shades & Blinds Closed
Even though you might be tempted to keep curtains or blinds slightly open for extra sunlight, it’s best to keep these closed when you’re not home. Make sure you have full coverage on windows and doors. Even with just sheer curtains, it’s still easier for potential thieves or other passers-by to peek in or see through exposed areas.
13. Secure Your Pool & Other Outdoor Areas
Contact sensors can be used within the home to alert if a door or window is breached, thus sending a real-time alert to your security system. Just as important is having these installed on outdoor gates, pool decks, and other areas prone to security and safety issues. Since these will be placed outside, remember to look for tamper-proof models protecting against harsh weather, vandalism, and theft.
Adding smart stove and grill guards with real-time monitoring and automatic shutoff removes the possibility of accidents leading to possible fires, gas leaks, and propane loss while you’re away.
With higher property crime rates in the hotter months, it's important to understand how to secure and protect your family and home.
14. Lock, Track & Monitor Your Vehicle(s)
Keeping your vehicles locked and secure is just one step of the safety process. If you’re traveling with multiple family members requiring more than one vehicle, you’ll still want to track their safety and well-being while on the road. By adding Alarm.com Connected Car, you’ll receive real-time mobile alerts regarding vehicle location and diagnostics, speeding, and other important safety information.
15. Don't Forget About Garages & Outdoor Sheds
The simplest method of securing your garage and shed is of course closing all its doors and any side entrances. However, this can easily be overlooked with the rush of trying to get out on time. Technologies such as smart garage door openers can help with real-time security notifications. Remotely open and close your door from your mobile device and receive alerts if contact and tilt sensors are breached.
As aforementioned regarding your home’s front and back doors, smart locks with a uniquely personalized security code can also be used to safeguard outdoor sheds.
Additional Advice & Recommendations
These tips will help ensure your home and family are secure this summer. If you still have questions, let us know how we can help. Our customized smart home security packages are designed to fit your needs and lifestyle.