SEATTLE, Dec. 12, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The end of the year is traditionally festive and celebratory, but it is also a time when you and your family are most susceptible to home break-ins and fire hazards. In fact, December and January are the most common months for burglaries, with the average number of break-ins increasing 20% during these months. Additionally, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that the most home fires happen in winter months, causing over $2 million in reported property loss and over 900 deaths annually.
Despite these statistics, there are effective ways to reduce the likelihood of being victim to these holiday hazards. Porch (http://porch.com), the world's first and most trusted home improvement network, has compiled five tips to help keep your home and family protected this holiday season.
Tip #1: Prevent Christmas Tree Fires
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that one out of every three Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Make sure to only use indoor UL listed lights for decorating your tree and always turn off the tree lights at night and when you leave your home. If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure it stays fresh by watering it regularly. Dry trees are more flammable, and at higher risk to catch on fire. When using artificial trees, make sure the tree is labeled as "fire resistant."
Tip #2: Check Your Smoke Detector Batteries
Test every smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your house and change out the batteries. This is a simple and inexpensive way to protect your home, and should be done every few months throughout the year.
Tip #3: Use Your Home Security System
Security systems will deter criminals from breaking into your home. In fact, cities and neighborhoods that have a higher number of security installs have lower burglary rates. For example, Portland, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., have high rates of security installations, and low levels of burglary. Conversely, cities such as Atlanta, Georgia, and Las Vegas, Nevada, that have low numbers of security installs, are affected by burglary up to 60% more than Portland and Washington, D.C.
Tip #4: Don't Give Burglars Reasons To Break In
The FBI reports that around 400,00 home burglaries occur during November and December each year. Leaving valuable items out in the open, near doors and windows, will make your home an easy target for quick break-ins. Wrapped or unwrapped, if you need to leave valuables and gifts out in the open, simply draw the blinds or cover them so they aren't easily seen.
Tip #5: Make It Look Like You're Home, Even When You're Not
Whether you are gone on an extended holiday, or just out for holiday dinner, burglars watch for homes that have no activity. Make sure you have an automatic light timer for your indoor lights, and set the timer to change the turn-on time regularly (burglars will notice if your lights come on at 5pm every day). For your outdoor lights, install motion sensor lighting. Have a friend or family member check on your house periodically while you are gone on vacation. In some cities you can even request police to do "vacation checks," where they will drive by your home a few times to make sure there is no suspicious activity.
Porch.com is the first and only free home improvement network that connects homeowners and renters with the right home service professionals based on who neighbors have used, project and cost history, and friend and neighbors' endorsements. In addition, Porch helps home professionals get more business, better exposure, and higher revenue with free business profiles and paid marketing & analytics tools. Porch can be found online at http://porch.com.