KEEPING YOUR HOME SAFE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

While the December holidays evoke a spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill toward all, not everyone embraces that philosophy, so just to be sure, it makes sense to take a few extra steps to keep your home and your loved ones safe this upcoming season.

We’ve become pretty well-schooled in the idea of having packages delivered to our offices if no one is going to be home, or having a neighbor bring in any parcels that are left unattended on our porches or by our front doors.  You don’t want items stolen any time of the year, but particularly when these are intended to be gifts.  However, your precaution shouldn’t stop there.

Most folks like to display their Christmas tree in front of a living room window where they can be enjoyed not just by family members, but by neighbors and folks passing in front of your home.  But if you’ve also placed gifts under the tree, this inadvertently creates an invitation to burglars.  Better to either keep the gifts hidden elsewhere or move your tree to a spot away from windows or other places with a view.

If you will be traveling during the holidays, it’s best to notify a trusted neighbor or engage a reputable housesitter to keep an eye on your property while you are away.  Arrange to have someone shovel your walks if it snows in your absence, and rather than discontinuing your mail or newspaper delivery, which can be a signal that no one will be at home, have someone collect these and keep them safe for you until your return.  Put a few lights on a timer, or better yet, have a friend or neighbor come over to leave on different lights on different nights so that a “pattern” isn’t readily obvious to anyone who might be checking out your place.

In this age of oversharing of information on social media, keep your travel plans offline.  Don’t post that you’ll be out of town, or where you are going, or for how long.

One of the best deterrents, of course, is to install a home security system that triggers alarms and that can alert you to any suspicious activity taking place, no matter where you may be when it occurs.  Some of these systems are easily installed with a minimum of fuss; others—hardwired security, for instance—can present more of a challenge, and may require the assistance of a professional service such as Handyman Matters who have Craftsmen well-versed in such installations.

There’s a lot of things going on this time of year that require our attention; worrying about the security of our home shouldn’t have to be one of them.

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Leaving Home for the Holidays? Don’t Forget to Take Care of These Things Before You Go!

If you’re heading out for the holidays this year – especially for an extended period of time – you might want to consider taking the time to do a little pre-work so that your home stays in top condition during your absence. Here are 4 quick to-dos that can help you avoid any serious winter damage during your extended holiday travels.

  1. Turn your heat down. Make sure to double-check the thermostat before you head out on your trip . It’s always smart to turn down the heat, but don’t turn it completely off. If the weather dips too low, your pipes could freeze and burst, causing serious problems when you return. A good rule of thumb is to set the thermostat to 55 or 60 degrees.
  1. Get rid of perishables in the fridge. Take out and throw away any foods that may go bad during your time away. You generally don’t need to empty out your fridge completely, unless you’re heading away for more than a month, then you might want to clean out everything and unplug your refrigerator.
  1. Close and latch all openings. Doors, windows, and fireplace flutes all need to be closed and latched before heading out the door. Depending on winds and weather, outside elements could make their way indoors if your doors and windows aren’t properly closed off.
  1. Disconnect and drain hoses connected to the outside. Any hoses that are connected to faucets outside of your home should be drained and disconnected to prevent any potential freezing and water or ice damage.

Enjoy your time away this holiday season by preparing your home ahead of time. If you’re looking for additional tips and tricks or need help getting your home ready for entertaining this holiday season, look no farther than here. The professionals at Handyman Matters are here to keep your home safe and prepare it for family gatherings.

Decorating Your Home and Yard for Halloween

In recent years, more and more homeowners have begun decorating their homes for Halloween as enthusiastically as they do at Christmas time. A stroll down the seasonal display aisles at your local general merchandise retail store will quickly confirm this. There are all manner of decorations available, from simple to incredibly complex—and expensive! You can go the “retail route,” or you can come up with your own unique way of “haunting” your home and yard this season. Here are some tips—and some cautions—to keep in mind:

Safety comes first. Don’t allow your decorations to be hazards. Keep trick or treaters and all other visitors safe when they visit your property. This means avoiding things that can be tripped over or bumped into. Mood lighting—or flashing lights—create great atmosphere, but can also cause visibility issues. Keep in mind that many trick or treaters wear costumes that limit their field of vision. Go for “safe” over “scary” and even over “creative” if there’s even the slightest doubt that you are creating something that could cause injury.

Secure your decorations from goblins and other pranksters. It can be “dispiriting” to go to a lot of effort to create spooky effects, only to have them disappear or be damaged. So unless you can monitor your decorations closely, don’t set out expensive items or things you’ve gone to a lot of effort to create if they can be swiped or destroyed when your back is turned. Keep these items secure by displaying them in windows or out of easy reach. You might consider bringing more valuable things indoors each evening before you go to bed.

“Simple” can be effective. You can put together either fun or frightening displays without spending a lot of money or even going to a lot of effort. Rake up a pile of leaves on your front lawn and take a pair of old boots or galoshes and position them so that it appears someone has been “buried” beneath the leaves with just their feet protruding. Dangle handmade cardboard bats and ghosts from tree limbs with black thread and let them flutter in the wind. Use cardboard, Styrofoam or planks of old wood to create a cemetery of tombstones on the grass.

Wads of cotton can be gently pulled apart in strands to create cobwebs which can be strung through tree branches or stuck along porch railings and pillars. Straw or fabric stuffed into a pair of old jeans and a shirt can make a scarecrow, with a pumpkin or jack o’lantern added for a head and face. Position “him” in a rickety old chair on your porch. Gather a bunch of withered plant stalks and tie them together to make miniature corn shocks, or twine them together to make a dead wreath, festooned with wilted flowers, to hang on the front door as a grisly greeting. Not only are these easy and inexpensive things, but if they get swiped, you aren’t out a lot of money for your efforts.

Go elaborate, but exercise restraint. Just as more people are going all out on their costumes, a lot of folks are doing likewise with their decorating—lights, sounds effects, moving figures—the Halloween sky is the limit! Trick or treaters and other passersby will enjoy these displays. But be mindful and respectful of your neighbors. Ear-splitting spooky noises and strobe lights tend to get old and tiresome pretty quickly. Check with those who live nearby to let them know what you will be doing. Keep the volume level and the mood lighting to a sensible level, and within a reasonable time frame—from dusk until 8pm or so is good; earlier if small children with earlier bedtimes live nearby.

If you need help with “haunting-up” your house, particularly if it involves climbing a ladder, stringing spooky lights or positioning sound equipment in trees or on the roof, your local Handyman Matters ghouls and gals stand ready to help you “scare-ify” your home and yard quickly and safely, and they are available to take everything down the day after Halloween, as well!