From gift exchanges and office parties to Black Friday and Christmas at grandma’s, the winter holidays are all about making memories and celebrating with loved ones. And all these festivities mean there are plenty of reasons for renters to leave their apartments.
Unfortunately, vacant homes and apartments are easy targets for burglars, even if only left unattended during a few hours of shopping. Seventy-seven percent of all crimes committed are classified as property crimes (burglary, theft, and vehicle theft), and Forbes reports a spike in those numbers during the holiday season. To make matters worse, as people deck the halls and turn up the thermostats, incidents related to fire, electric shock, and carbon monoxide poisoning increase as well.
Stay merry by following these holiday safety tips before you leave your apartment for a long trip so not even the Grinch (or burglars) can steal your joy!
1. Notify a trusted person that you’re traveling.
Give property management and neighbors a heads up when you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your apartment. Leave your contact information, a key, and the alarm code with them so they can help if something happens.
2. Make arrangements for your mail when you are not home.
Don’t let the thieves steal your holiday cheer—or the gifts you bought for mom and dad. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail and packages while you’re away, or use other tricks for getting your packages delivered safely, like noting delivery instructions or putting a temporary hold on your mail. Nothing says, “I’m not home” like an overstuffed mailbox or packages piling up on your doorstep. And whether you’re home or not, don’t leave any boxes or shopping bags in your car for any passersby to see.
3. Use timers for indoor and exterior lights.
A dark home is also a giveaway that you’re not around. Set a few indoor lamps and your porch light on automatic timers before you leave. Put any decorative outdoor lighting on timers as well. This will give any passerby the illusion that someone is home, including a potential burglar.
4. Prevent gas and electrical dangers.
Twinkle lights and fun inflatables are undoubtedly festive but can be major home hazards, so it’s important to practice smart electrical safety. Unattended space heaters, dry Christmas trees, forgotten candles, and frayed or damaged extension cords can easily catch fire, so be sure to unplug appliances, electronics, and tree lights while you are out of the house. A carbon monoxide detector is also a good idea, considering “each year, faulty and improperly used fireplaces, stoves, water heaters, and furnaces are responsible for more than 150 carbon monoxide deaths in America,” reports National Neighborhood Watch.
5. Beef up security.
A home security system can reduce the chance of a break-in by up to 87 percent, and there are several affordable options for alarms and security cameras, many of which have apps that allow you to keep an eye on things from your phone. Ask for a window decal or yard sign to put up—according to a survey from the University of North Carolina, even the appearance of a security system can deter burglars. And it may sound like a no-brainer, but always double-check the locks on the windows and doors and close curtains and blinds.
6. Invest in renter’s insurance.
Renter’s insurance can be a lifesaver if there is an incident while you’re gone. When looking for a policy, pay attention to what is and isn’t covered. If you already have renter’s insurance, make sure it’s up-to-date.
Alas, we don’t all have the trap-making talents of Kevin McCallister. And even if you already implemented our top holiday safety tips, you might still not feel confident leaving your apartment unattended this winter. Find a new apartment in a safer neighborhood with ApartmentSearch, and let there be peace on earth (and in your mind).