5 tips for keeping your home safe this summer

How to keep your home safe from theft and repair emergencies.

Home safety tips: 1-3
This story was originally titled "Keeping Your Home Safe" in the July 2008 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Enjoy your summer vacation without worrying about the safety of your home by following the advice of our experts: Gemma Broderick, executive director of the Crime Prevention Association in Toronto; Terri Ste-Marie, director of Prevention NDG in Montreal; and Jonathan Motyka from On Side Restoration in Squamish, B.C.

1. Secure it. Take a walk around your property. Do you see any way to get in? Purchase a good lock with a reputable brand name ($100 to $150 at a local hardware store) and lock up ladders, patio furniture, recycling bins and anything else a thief could use to gain access to a second-storey window. And never hide a key anywhere outside. Most burglaries are crimes of opportunity, so a home that's well protected is less likely to attract the worst kind of attention.

2. Keep it living. Your home is less likely to catch the attention of a thief if it looks like it's being lived in, so it should reflect your regular schedule and give the indication that someone is home. If there are normally children's toys in the yard, leave a few out. Also consider placing extra shoes at the front and back doors. Inside, tune the radio to an AM talk station, so there are voices to be heard, turn down the volume on your phone – constant ringing is a sure sign that you’re away – and don't forget timers for your lights.

3. Maintain it. A home that's well cared for is a less attractive target for thieves. Trim hedges that exceed window-height and cut evergreen branches up at least three feet from the ground to eliminate hiding places on your property. General maintenance also decreases the risk of other problems, especially water damage. Hot water tanks, toilets and pipes are the usual culprits, so keep them in good repair as prevention.

Page 1 of 2 -- On page 2, learn how to out-smart would-be burglars from entering your home cheaply and effectively.

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