Vacation season in the United States is also break-in season. The highest percentage of home burglaries occur during the summer months resulting in an average loss of $1,675 per break in.
Many people tend to overlook burglary statistics because they consider break-ins to be a lesser crime than murders, rapes and other offenses. While burglaries do not always result in physical harm to the victim(s), it leaves a significant impact. Not only are there monetary damages, as mentioned above, but there are psychological costs to the homeowners or renters such as living in fear.
Break-ins should not be taken lightly. According to recent FBI crime reports, home break-ins are the most common threat to our homes and we can expect 1 in every 36 homes in the United States to be burglarized just this year.
So how can you keep your home safe from break-ins and other security issues?
Between standard practices and home security systems, there are four key things that can be done to help prevent someone from breaking into your home while you are on vacation this summer.
1. Make your home look occupied.
When you are away, leave some lights on. If you will be away for an extended period of time, you can connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on during the evening and off during the day. Also, arrange with a trusted friend or family member to keep your yard trimmed and mail and newspapers from piling up while you are away. These are clear signs that someone has not been home.
2. Lock all doors and windows before you leave.
This includes your garage door and garden sheds. Sliding glass doors and certain windows may be more vulnerable to break-ins. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for special locks to keep these areas of your home safe.
3. Install a home security system.
There are several things to consider when deciding between a do-it-yourself home security system such as the ConnectSense Security Sensor and a home security company. For some of these considerations, visit 10 Things to Consider: DIY, Cloud-Based Home Security vs. Home Security Companies. No matter which security system you choose, the most important thing is to use it! Security systems are only useful when you remember to activate them and offer homeowners peace of mind while they are away.
4. Be a good neighbor.
If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call the police. People are less likely to break into your house if they know the community has a reliable neighborhood watch program in place.
Finally, if your home is broken into this summer, make sure to call the 9-1-1 immediately. Because police are only able to clear about 13% of all reported burglaries due to lack of witnesses or physical evidence, it is important to be taking active steps to protect your home while you are away this vacation season.
Flooding is America's most common natural disaster, yet many homeowners are unprotected. In Grid Connect’s home base of Naperville, Illinois, rainstorms and especially winter storms and melting snow this season can create a high flood risk.
What Causes Floods?
Everyone lives in a flood zone and just because you haven’t experienced one in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. There are a number of factors that can cause a flood, one of which is weather. Hurricanes, winter storms and snowmelt are often overlooked causes of flooding. More common causes of flooding include heavy rains and the spring thaw that usually begin mid-March to early April here in Naperville.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “April showers bring May flowers?” Unfortunately, many times April showers also bring floodwaters.
The Cost of Flood Damage
Water damage can be deceptive and go undetected for days in places such as your basement. At a minimum, this damage will cause stinky odors while greater damage can cause your property and the things you care about to deteriorate to the point where they need costly repairs.
As little as two inches of water can cause devastating damage to your home. In a 1,000 square foot home, those two inches of water can mean up to $10,000 dollars worth of damage and most Homeowners Insurance does not cover these costs. In many cases, the sources of this type of damage require additional coverage or a separate policy.
Homeowners Insurance vs. Flood Insurance
There are two types of policies that cover water damage: homeowners insurance and flood insurance. Though many people believe that flooding is also covered under homeowners insurance, they are two separate and distinct policies.
Most homeowner policies cover damage to your home caused by a sudden and accidental water event such as a burst pipe, an overflowing toilet or melting snow that enters your home after a winter storm.
Flood damage is many times caused by environmental factors such as an overflowing river or lake or the ground being saturated with too much water after a violent storm. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, “A flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow.” Water entering your basement after a heavy rain or winter runoff is usually considered flood damage as well, which again, is not covered under your standard homeowners insurance.
Just because your neighborhood hasn't flooded yet doesn't mean it won't this year. It is important to talk to your insurance agent to make sure your home and belongings are properly covered especially if you live in an area where flooding events are common.
Do-It-Yourself Home Protection
Thanks to the “Internet of Things” revolution where everyday objects can be connected to each other through the Internet, there are a number of devices available that can help reduce the amount of water damage in your home by immediately notifying you when something goes awry.
Water sensors are readily accessible and inexpensive, especially in comparison to the cost of water damage. Battery-powered, smart sensors can be mounted near plumbing or other appliances that might leak. Installation is easy and requires very little maintenance beyond making sure to check the batteries and/or power sources regularly.
Once installed, water sensors will alert the you when water is detected somewhere it shouldn’t be such as in a basement, crawl space, or even just under a sink. These notifications can be received in the form of a phone call, text message, email, or for the social media-savvy, a tweet.
You can find water sensors through online retailers such as Amazon.
In the seven years since I first became a homeowner I cannot count the number of times I have turned around the car when I was a few blocks away from home to go back and double check that the garage is closed. Once I was at least 15 minutes away from home and already running late for a flight when I turned to my wife and asked "Did we close the garage?" It was early in the morning and we were both still waking up so neither of us could definitively confirm that the garage was in fact closed. So we turned around, adding another 30 minutes to our trip to head back home and confirm that the garage was indeed still closed, and it was. In fact I cannot recall a time that I have gone back to check and the garage was not closed but I still regularly have that feeling that I left it open and turn around to verify.Read More