Holiday Security Fears
The older I get the more I realize one thing: holidays are stressful. If it isn’t making sure you’ve got a gift for everyone in your extended family making you crazy, then it is scheduling Christmas with in-laws and avoiding your crazy uncle.
There are also the fears that keep you up late at night, what if a burglar visits your home while you are out? What if you get stuck in line at the airport’s security check point and miss your flight? What if half your presents from Amazon have been mysteriously disappearing from your porch?
Not to worry, I’ve got some helpful tips that can ease your mind on the security related things so that you can spend more time thinking about how you'll pretend to like your Grandma’s Jell-o casserole at Christmas dinner.
Leaving the House Empty
This is a major concern for a lot of people during the holidays. According to the AAA travel organization, over 100 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles from home on Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, leaving their homes empty and defenseless against burglars.
The best (and quite possibly the easiest) way to make sure you’re house isn’t the unlucky one on the block getting broken into is to illuminate the building. When you leave, be sure to keep the porch light on and perhaps a lamp or two in the living room. You want to give off the appearance that someone is home.
Sometimes, if a thief is persistent enough, they will take note of which houses have had the same lights on for a couple days. To avoid this, you could invest in lights with timers in them, or lights you can install that can be turned on or off through an app on your phone.
In addition to lighting up your house, make sure that you’ve locked all doors and windows and tell your neighbors that you’ll be leaving. If they see someone around your house, they’ll know to call the police.
Airport Security Checkpoint Lines
Of those 100 million Americans traveling this holiday season, many of them will be traveling by air. In order to forgo the long lines, make sure you arrive early. During Christmas time, arriving 45 minutes earlier than you normally would can make a world of difference. If your local airport is privy to the longest lines during the holiday, try to arrive 90 minutes earlier than you normally would.
Check in with the TSA website and @AskTSA Twitter feed to determine what is allowed on board and what isn’t, and how to pack it correctly. That could save you from being pulled out of line and getting an additional bag check.
When you get to the front of the TSA security checkpoint line, pay careful attention to the instructions given to you by the agents. Sometimes, if the lines are particularly crowded, they will alter the normal security routine to get the lines moving faster. Listen for specific instructions on what to do with your laptop, if you need to keep your shoes on, and ask questions if you feel confused.
If you are taking holiday gifts with you, be sure to read the TSA’s list of holiday prohibited items. Make sure these aren’t in your carry-on or over the normal liquid allowance of 3.4 ounces. It is also best to not wrap your gifts until you are to your final destination so that they can be inspected if needed.
Shopping online has made holiday shopping so much easier, but it is hard to count on actually receiving your items when there are Porch Pirates lurking about. These ‘Porch Pirates’ are known to follow around UPS, FedEx and USPS trucks and wait for them to leave a package on the front porch of a home. From there, they scope out the place to make sure no one is home, sometimes even knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell, and then run off with your package.
To avoid these thieves, talk with your local package deliverer and try to schedule a drop off for when you know you’ll be home. If this isn’t possible, ask them to leave the box at their local office so that you can pick it up without the box having ever been unattended.
You can also give directions that tell the delivery person to leave the box hidden behind porch furniture or in the front bushes. You could even allow them to drop off the package with a next door neighbor.
Some home owners have installed doorbell cameras that pick up on movement on their porch. They can check in when someone is around and potentially talk to the person near their front door. This is helpful for conversations with the delivery person, but also to shoo away Porch Pirates that may be lurking.
Even if the thief takes your package, you will still have evidence that it was stolen and you can file a police report. Many police departments use social media to post video from the front stoops of people’s homes to try to find the culprit, a lot of the time, it works.
I hope that now you are feeling a little better about your holiday security fears and can finally start stressing about the things that do matter, like finding your Mother-in-law a gift she won’t exchange.
Below you can see at Twitter moment of video taken of Porch Pirates in the act.
Posted on Dec 13, 2016