Close the door. Lock it. Set the alarm.
This is how most people close up their summer homes. Yet an unprecedented amount of people fail to take the necessary steps to make sure that alarm system is functioning properly.
Here are some key tips about keeping your summer home safe:
Alarms are essentially “dumb” electronic devices that, like any other frequently used device, are prone to failure and have certain components that are more reliable than others. Have a professional check your alarm system on an annual basis. A trusted and experienced electronic security installer will be able to assess your system prior to closing the house up and determine if any part should be replaced in a preventative nature.
Alarms are good at one thing – alerting people that something may be amiss at your home. Equally important to the initial alarm is a response mechanism. Have a family friend or community contact that is available on short notice to come to the house to open the door for the police, to conduct an outside inspection and to look for environmental damage such as water, or excessive cold / hot temperatures. All of these problems can be detected by alarm systems and done so without a great deal of advanced technology, however, it is in the analysis and response to those signals where alarm systems offer their best value.
Fire is also a big risk to summer houses. Often times local fire departments are staffed by volunteers and have a long response rate. It’s important to make a thorough assessment of fire risk, both as to what equipment can be put in the house to prevent fire and also what kind of insurance coverage you should have in case a fire does occur in a closed summer house.
When building a new summer house consider installing a residential sprinkler system. Sprinklers can dramatically reduce the risk of fire. However, because sprinklers can not be turned off remotely or electronically, they can also be a source of water damage. Therefore, it is crucial when installing sprinklers to make sure that there is a robust system in place to respond to the home if the sprinkler is activated. Have a “human” response ready to step in and make sure the water valve is easily identifiable and accessible, even to strangers.
Electronic security is not the end of the security obligation. Homes must have strong locks which should be secured prior to closing. There may be extra deadbolt locks that are not used during the summer, make sure these locks are installed and locked prior to leaving the house. For houses that have large amounts of glass exposure, consider using security window film to make it more difficult to break through the glass and break into the house.
All of these steps will go a long way to ensuring that when you return next spring, your house will be in top shape and ready for the opening spring security check list.