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While there's a lot to be said for the value of high-tech home security systems, there are many basic, inexpensive things you can do to safeguard your home from intruders. Keeping your home secure begins with awareness, good communication, and positive habits.

Where does good communication come into play? One example is the need to have a trusted neighbor keep an eye on your home when you're out of town or away on vacation. Even if you've had the foresight to suspend your mail and newspaper deliveries during your absence, things don't always work out as planned!

When you factor in the possibility of human error, unplanned deliveries, or even power outages, it's a good idea to have a friend, relative, or neighbor check on your house when you're gone. Unexpected deliveries could run the gamut from free phonebooks left on your front steps to promotional literature placed on your doorknob or stuffed into your mailbox. And even if you don't subscribe to a newspaper, free sample issues may occasionally be left in your driveway -- often with an invitation to become a subscriber. An alert neighbor can clear away any telltale signs that no one's home. They can also notify you or the local authorities of any suspicious activity on your property.

A good rule of thumb when you're away for more than a few hours is to make your house look as if it's occupied. Even old-school techniques, like hooking up a couple indoor lights to automatic timers, can create the impression someone's home. If you happen to have outside lights on a timer or motion-detector floodlights, then that can help deter nighttime trespassers, too. Solar-powered lights which turn on when the sun goes down are another option.

In spite of good habits, like locking doors and staying in touch with neighbors, windows left open can be an overlooked security breach -- especially if you didn't leave them open, yourself! This can and often does happen in unexpected ways, like when your houseckeeper decides your home smells a little stale and needs an infusion of outside air to freshen things up! Although their intent is typically helpful and good, they may be solving one problem while creating another.

The same thing could happen if you have painters or other contractors doing interior work at your home. You can address that problem by reminding them to close windows when they're done for the day. You can also leave a note to that effect. Just in case they happen to be on the forgetful side, though, it's always a good idea to follow up your reminders with your own security checks! Since other people (especially those who don't live in your house) may not be nearly as security conscious as you, it's always better to err on the side of caution!




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