Protect your home and your family with these home safety tips.
"Fear is the father of courage and the mother of safety."
Henry H. Tweedy
Storm Protection
Storm Protection
How To Prevent A False Alarm
How To Prevent A False Alarm
Moving in: Security Checklist
Moving in: Security Checklist
Spot Deceptive Sales Scams
Spot Deceptive Sales Scams
Start a Neighborhood Watch Checklist
Start a Neighborhood Watch Checklist
Motion Sensor Tips and Tricks
Motion Sensor Tips and Tricks
Fire Safety Plan Checklist
Fire Safety Plan Checklist
5 Tips to Keep Your Child Safe at Home
5 Tips to Keep Your Child Safe at Home
Tips to Prevent a Home Break-In
Tips to Prevent a Home Break-In
Pet Safety Tips
Pet Safety Tips
Home Office Safety
Home Office Safety
Apartment and Condominium Safety
Apartment and Condominium Safety
Kitchen Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
Kitchen Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
Halloween Safety Tips for the Whole Family
Halloween Safety Tips for the Whole Family
Safety Solutions for Rural Properties
Safety Solutions for Rural Properties
Hurricane Safety
Hurricane Safety
Home Security Tips
Home Security Tips
Fire Safety Tips
Fire Safety Tips
Holiday Safety Tips
Holiday Safety Tips
Tips for a Safe Home during the Holidays
Tips for a Safe Home during the Holidays
Baby Safety Tips
Baby Safety Tips
Back To School Safety
Back To School Safety
Bicycle Safety Tips
Bicycle Safety Tips
How To Choose a Home Alarm System
How To Choose a Home Alarm System
College Safety Tips
College Safety Tips
College Social Life Safety
College Social Life Safety
Financial Safety Tips
Financial Safety Tips
Fire Safety For Kids
Fire Safety For Kids
Financial Scam Safety
Financial Scam Safety
Home Office Safety Tips
Home Office Safety Tips
Home Security Glossary
Home Security Glossary
Medicine Cabinet Safety
Medicine Cabinet Safety
School Lockdown Procedures
School Lockdown Procedures
Social Media Safety Tips
Social Media Safety Tips
Spring Break Safety Tips
Spring Break Safety Tips
Study Abroad Safety Tips
Study Abroad Safety Tips
Thanksgiving Safety Tips
Thanksgiving Safety Tips
Top Ten Guard Dogs
Top Ten Guard Dogs
4th of July Safety Tips
4th of July Safety Tips
Dating Safety Tips
Dating Safety Tips

Use these tips along with your home security system to help protect your home and your loved ones:

Create the illusion that someone is at your house. ...
Make sure all exterior doors have reliable locks. ...
Always look before opening the door. ...
Don't leave spare keys in obvious locations. ...
Secure your sliding glass doors. ...

Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home

Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home
In the kitchen
  • Keep a distance between flammable objects (papers, curtains, plastics, etc.) and fire sources (oven, stove top, portable heater, etc.)
  • Use harmful products (cleaning solutions, lighters) with caution (follow nstructions!) and keep them out of reach of children and pets.
  • Never leave sharp objects (knives) or other such tools and utensils misplaced or unattended.
  • Ensure electrical cords aren’t draped across other appliances or the counter or stove top.
  • Leave space around appliances for proper ventilation.
Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home
In the bathroom
  • Keep electrical appliances wrapped and away from water.
  • Use non-slip strips or floor mats
  • Always keep the room clean and as dry as possible.
Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home
In the bedroom
  • Never smoke.
  • As always, ensure that everything else is a safe distance away from a source of fire or heat.
  • Opt for mattresses with open flame-resistant protection.
  • You’re most vulnerable when you sleep. Even in bed, keep a phone, light, (and, if necessary, a weapon) within reach.
Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home
In the garage
  • This is probably where you store most of your tools and equipment. Take precautions with flammable liquids, chemicals, and anything producing fumes.
  • Keep poisonous substances (paint thinner, antifreeze, rat poison, etc.) locked up and out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep your space clean and organized, especially as many of your tools are sharp, heavy or otherwise dangerous.
Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home
In the yard
  • Surround your property with a sturdy fence (this is more for keeping in children and pets, but can also serve to remind strangers to keep out).
  • If you’ve got a pool, keep it locked down or fenced in when not in use.
  • Be careful when working in bad weather. Use sand, salt, and good-traction footwear on ice and snow.
Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home
On the stairs
  • Keep steps clean and dry.
  • Always install stable and sturdy railing on both sides of the stairs.
  • Ensure that the distance between the rails is narrow enough to prevent a child or infant from falling through.
  • Good rule of thumb: less than four inches!
  • Keep stairs well lit.
Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home
Guard against fire
  • Install smoke detectors, check them regularly, and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Avoid overloading outlets and extension cords.
  • Keep fire extinguishers handy and know how to use them.
  • Establish a safety exit, ensure all family members know and understand it, practice with drills, and ensure it’s never blocked.
  • Never block or pile things on heaters or near heat-exuding appliances; give these a wide berth, plenty of breathing room, and make sure they don’t get overheated.
  • Ensure that all materials are fire-resistant if you’re renovating or just fixing up something around the house.
  • Never leave any type of fire or hot appliance unattended.
  • Remove dry vegetation around your home, especially during the dry seasons.
  • Cover the fireplace with a stable and large metal fire frame.

Tips for Vacant Property

As the seasons change, we see many life changes, one of which is buying or selling property.  There are different reasons your property may be "vacant" or "unoccupied", but did you know these types of properties need special insurance?  Ins...

As the seasons change, we see many life changes, one of which is buying or selling property.  There are different reasons your property may be "vacant" or "unoccupied", but did you know these types of properties need special insurance?  Ins...

As the seasons change, we see many life changes, one of which is buying or selling property.  There are different reasons your property may be "vacant" or "unoccupied", but did you know these types of properties need special insurance?  Insurance policies often have a "vacancy clause" where your coverage may not apply after 30 days of the property being "vacant".  Check out the following vacant property tips from our valued insurance partner, West Bend Mutual Insurance Company. 

Protecting Vacant Property

Fire Quickly Destroys Vacant Property and Nearby Buildings

A fire completely burned a vacant building to the ground and caused severe damage to several adjacent buildings. Neighbors of the property had complained to the building owner about trash being left in front of the building, and police had recently discovered homeless people living in the vacant property. On a cold winter night, a group of homeless people entered the building through an unsecured basement window and started a fire for warmth. The fire quickly spread out of control and engulfed the entire building. Luckily, no one was hurt in the fire but the resulting damage to vacant property and surrounding buildings was severe.

Common Concerns with Vacant Property

Due to the struggling economy, vacant buildings are becoming more and more common. Vacancies are affecting every type of property, including commercial, residential, industrial, retail, and more. Vacant BuildingThe common assumption is that a vacant property doesn’t need any attention; “It’s empty! What could go wrong!?”

In many ways a vacant property is more susceptible to property damage, criminal activity and insurance claims. There are several dangers associated with vacant buildings. It is important to understand these dangers and take immediate steps to prevent them.

Theft

One of the major exposures facing vacant property is theft. Thieves know no one is inside, so they select vacant property since there is a lower likelihood of being caught. Even if the building is completely empty of all contents, thieves may still strike to steal copper piping or other valuable building components. Make sure there is nothing valuable for thieves to take in case they do strike your vacant property.

Vandalism

Another major concern for vacant building owners is vandalism. People will break into vacant buildings for a number of reasons, and, if given enough time, can cause significant damage. Vandals find vacant buildings to be easy targets. The level of damage can range from something relatively minor like broken light bulbs to extreme amounts of graffiti.

Trespassing or Squatting

As seen demonstrated in the story at the beginning of this article, another major vacant property concern is trespassing or squatting. Homeless people looking for easy shelter may seek out vacant properties. In the process, they can cause damage to the building and may reside there for an extended period of time. Homeless people are not the only trespassing threat for vacant property; people often break into vacant properties to engage in more nefarious, illicit activity. The longer a squatter stays in a vacant property, the higher the possibility that large levels of trash and waste will be left behind.

Weather

Even after a limited amount of time, weather can wreak havoc on an unattended property. Both cold and hot temperatures can severely damage the building’s interior. Rain, snow, wind, and hail can all cause damage to the exterior of a building. It is important to take a few precautions when preparing a building for vacancy in order to protect it from the elements:

  • Thermostat: Make sure to keep your thermostat set at an appropriate range. During colder months, keep the temperature set at a minimum of 55 degrees in order to prevent the pipes from freezing. During warmer months, make sure to set your air conditioning to a minimum of 85 degrees otherwise if your building gets too warm it will become susceptible to damage from humidity and mold. Using a backup generator to ensure constant access to heat or cooling should be considered.
  • Secure Openings: Make sure all doors, windows, and other openings are secured properly. Wind, rain and other forms of weather can enter buildings through these openings and cause damage, so make sure they are properly secured and routinely inspected for signs of vulnerability.
  • Bring all outdoor items inside: High winds can be dangerous and can quickly turn any unsecured outdoor object into a projectile. When preparing a building for vacancy make sure to bring all unsecured outdoor objects indoors.

Protecting Vacant Property

Install Security Systems

Keeping a vacant building secure is the most important aspect in preventing damage. There are a number of ways to provide security for a vacant building. Depending on the value of the building and its contents, the likelihood of damage occurring, and any other factors that could affect building safety, you will need to determine what methods of security are best for the property.

  • Alarms: An alarm system should be seriously considered for any vacant building if one does not already exist. Alarms will deter individuals from attempting to enter your building and will quickly alert authorities if someone does break in. If the building has an existing security alarm system, be sure to continue the service. Alert the alarm service provider that the building will be vacant.
  • Security/Patrol Guards: Contracting with a security company to patrol a vacant property is another way to help keep it secure. Patrol guards can be contracted to visit the building at random times every day to make sure nothing is wrong. These guards are a great way to deter trespassers and vandals and can provide quick notification if there are any other problems.
  • Lighting: Motion-activated lights and general lighting can also help protect vacant buildings. Keeping entryways and other areas around the building well-lit will deter individuals from attempting to enter the building. Motion-activated lights are also another great deterrent because they will only turn on when someone gets too close to the building and will most often scare off potential criminals.
  • Cameras: Installing security cameras will help protect vacant property in two ways. For starters, cameras can act as deterrent for would-be criminals. The second is that it will help identify who is causing damage and enable you to enact preventative measures to keep it from happening again.

Alert Others of Vacancy

Another good way to help protect vacant property is to alert others that it is vacant so they can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Be sure to alert local fire and police departments so they know that the building is vacant. In addition, contact the building’s utility provider so they can keep you informed of any unusual spikes in power usage. If possible, it is also beneficial to alert neighbors or nearby tenants that the building is going to become vacant so they can help observe the building and report any unusual activity.

Maintenance

The final component of protecting vacant property is to continue to perform all necessary routine maintenance. Necessary maintenance will depend greatly on the specific building, but some of the most common issues are:

  • Snow Removal: Make sure to keep any sidewalks in front of your building free from snow and ice. Regardless of whether a building is occupied or not, it may still be the responsibility of the building owner to keep publicly accessible thoroughfares free from snow and ice.
  • Temperature: As mentioned before, it is important to keep the interior of your building at a reasonable temperature. Make sure to have someone regularly check the building’s thermostat to ensure the appropriate temperature ranges are being met.
  • Sump Pump: All buildings should be equipped with a sump pump to remove excess water and protect them from flooding. Check your building’s sump pump to ensure it is functioning properly.
  • Roof: Any leaking in the building’s interior hints at a potential problem on the roof. A small roof repair will be much less costly than extensive water damage from a leak.
  • Sprinkler System: Continue all routine maintenance of sprinkler and fire protection systems.
  • Gutters: Keep all gutters clean and free of debris. Clogged gutters can lead to poor drainage and can cause water to seep into your building, resulting in significant damage.
  • Ice Dams: Inspect the gutters of a vacant property during the winter months to see if any ice dams are forming. Ice dams can cause large amounts of water to enter and damage buildings. If you do notice any ice dams forming, contact a professional to remove them and add needed insulation to prevent them from reforming. Learn more about preventing and fixing ice dams.

 


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