Tag Archives: helpful

Review These Shopping Safety Tips Before You Whip Out Your Wallet This Weekend…

Thanksgiving is early this year. No, it really is. It falls on November 22nd, which is the earliest date it can fall on. So, it’s not your imagination. Thanksgiving did sneak up on you! And on us too, we admit, and because of that, we are all of a sudden realizing it’s time to talk about safe holiday shopping before the buying frenzy begins.

It’s going to be a big year for holiday shopping
And a frenzy it will be! Last year 174 million Americans parted with their money during the Thanksgiving weekend shopping, which includes Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can expect that number to be higher this year because the economy is booming and consumer confidence is high. As a result, eMarketer predicts 2018 holiday season will bring strong retail sales: offline sales are expected to increase 4.1%, while online spending will increase 16.2% to $123.39 billion.

Will you be one of the confident consumers coughing up cash this weekend? Before you whip out your wallet this Thursday, Friday or Monday, review these safety tips first, so your holiday won’t be more expensive than you’d planned.

While shopping online
More money will be spent online than in person this Thanksgiving weekend, so be ready to be safe for any shopping that involves your laptop or mobile phone:

  • When at a website, check the URL and look for https:// rather than just http://. You can also look for a lock or similar symbol, showing that the site is confirmed secure.
  • Change up your passwords on a regular basis.
  • Pay with a credit cardinstead of a debit card.
  • Have a plan for any packages that will get delivered to your house, so they’re not sitting on your front porch and easily stolen.

While shopping in person
Despite the allure of online shopping, many of us still like to go spend our money in person. If you’re going to be hitting the Black Friday sales, pay attention to these safety tips:

  • Don’t flash any cash and only pull out your wallet when you’re ready to pay.
  • Keep your purse close to your body or carry your wallet in a front pocket.
  • Only purchase what you can carry at one time.
  • Keep your phone charged.
  • Set up meeting times and places if you’re shopping with others.
  • Park under a light if you’ll be shopping until after dark.
  • If you put packages in your car and do more shopping, keep those packages out of sight by hiding them in the trunk.
  • Once you’re back home, don’t advertise expensive purchases. Don’t leave boxes on the front porch and break down large boxes as soon as possible to keep your buys to yourself.

Don’t spend what you don’t have
Although the buying and giving is fun, and these tips should help keep you and your property safer, we offer one caveat to all this: Avoid the debt. Consumer debt is set to reach $4 trillion by the end of 2018. You might think that’s unrelated to home security and safety, but when debt affects our physical health, marriages, and financial futures, it’s totally related. No matter how good the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal might be, if you have to borrow to buy it, you’re going to end up paying more for it anyway.

And on that note, have fun, buy smart, and stay safe this Thanksgiving weekend!

5 Steps to a Quick Home Security Inspection Before the Seasons Change

At our house, we’ve been suffering from an unusually hot and dry summer that has taken its toll on our hay field, our pastures, our horses, our garden and—in truth—us. Despite the heat, however, we are looking ahead to the fall, knowing that the rains will be back. And the question is, will we be ready?

It’s not just the time to prepare for a change in the weather, however, but also a good time to do a home security inspection before the days get shorter and everyone gets busier with the new school year and activities.

To make sure your home is secure heading into this fall, follow these tips. Also check out the resources below for checklists you can use to do a more thorough home security inspection.

  1. Start in the street
    Start your home security inspection outside of your home, looking at it from the street the way a burglar will. Make sure your home is decidedly unattractive to a burglar! Cut back bushes that offer hiding places, especially by doors and windows. This applies to your garage too. If you have a tall fence or hedge that hides your house from the street, rethink that. Try to keep a car parked in the driveway when no one is home. Make sure you have your home security system sign displayed in your hard.
  2. Check all doors and windows
    Check the locks on your doors and windows, but also check the construction. Consumer Reports has a very quick rundown on locks here, as well as good advice about doors and strike plates. Make sure all the windows lock in both closed and open positions, and that you keep them locked. When locked in the open position, make sure the opening is too small for anyone to get through. Do this same inspection on your garage and any outbuildings too.
  3. Turn on the lights
    Review your use of lighting both during the day and then again at night when it’s dark. Also compare your lighting that’s on when you’re home vs not home. Does your home look occupied when you’re gone? If not, use timers or your home automation system to make it look lived in.
  4. Take a night view
    While it’s dark, check for additional hiding places caused by shadows or poor lighting. Most break-ins happen during the day, but not all. And what might not be a hiding place in daylight could be concealed in the shadows of the night.
  5. Review your home security system
    Finally consider your home security system. Is your home security system aging? It might be time for an upgrade, especially when you want to take advantage of the home automation features now widely available. Also review where you have your video cameras set up, in case they need to be moved around.

Bonus: Use a home security checklist
If you want to go beyond our simple list (and you should!), take advantage of the many resources you can find online. Below are two home security checklists we recommend using for a more thorough home security inspection:

And to answer the question posed at the beginning about whether or not we’ll be ready for the rain, I don’t know yet! But my fingers are crossed!

Sometimes Safety Simply Requires Putting Away the Smart Phone

We have just returned from an amazing trip to a foreign country and I have bad news: I saw as many people glued to their smart phones there as I see in the U.S. On the one hand, you might argue that that’s a good thing, because it shows we live in a global, connected world. I say it’s a case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that has us all glued to our phones, but we should have another fear instead: the consequences of staring at our small screens.

What does it matter that we have home security systems and fancy car locks and smoke detectors if the real risk to our safety is the phone in the palm of our hand? Because if you look at the research, those phones are causing accidents and even deaths—and they would be less of a threat if we could simply put them away sometimes.

Let’s start with the obvious ones: accidents
We’ve all heard we shouldn’t text and drive, and it’s illegal to do so in many states. But still people do it, causing 1.6 million accidents per year. If that number doesn’t scare you, how about these statistics: 3,500 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2015, and another 391,000 were injured. Still not scared? How about this: 11 teenagers die every single day due to texting and driving. (You can find a whole lot more scary texting while driving statistics here.)

And it’s not just teenagers who are guilty of the crime. Nor is it just car accidents that are a regular occurrence due to smart phones. This short video demonstrates just how dangerous it is to walk down the street while on your phone. (Do you see the guerilla??) When people are on their phones while walking, they walk into walls, into fountains, into a loose bear, out into the street where they are hit by cars, or even right off a pier requiring a Coast Guard rescue. (I am not making any of this up!)

And then there’s our health
If reading that section above didn’t make you want to spend a little less time with your smart phone, let’s talk about the consequences on our physical well-being. Smart phone use is bad for our eyes, our posture, and our sleep. People who spend a lot of time on their smart phones are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, pain, muscle spasms, and chronic diseases. We can get eye strain and even dry eye syndrome. Our necks are bent down and our arms are uplifted in unnatural ways for long periods of time. That’s gotta hurt at some point! And bright phone screens suppress melatonin levels, making it harder to go to sleep.

Finally, our mental and social health
Spending so much time on our phones is dangerous as we drive and walk. It’s bad for our physical well-being. And, ironically, it’s bad for our mental and social health too. Kids and teenagers disconnect from the world around them—we’ve all witnessed that. But adults can do the same when too caught up in those tiny screens. Heavy duty cell phone use also reduces our brain activity and makes it harder to pay attention, either to a task at hand or to a conversation. Socially, we’ve seen a huge increase in depression and suicides among teens, and convincing research links those increases at least in part to smart phone usage because of social media.

I am as thankful for my phone as the next person. I can keep up with my kids, find my way to a restaurant, check the weather, and stay on top of work email when out of the office. With some apps, I have no choice but to use my phone—like if I need to buy a train ticket. But we all must be aware that there is a time and a place to have that phone out and our attention focused on that, and a time and a place to be focused on what’s going on in the world around us—no matter where in the world we live.

Streetwise Safety: 6 More Tips for Staying Safe While on the Road

Photo by Annie Theby on Unsplash

Are you looking forward to getting away this summer? Me too! My vacation time can’t get here fast enough! But heading out of town is not without risks. Being on the road, whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, raises your risk factor. You’re in unfamiliar territory and you’re probably distracted, thinking about the trip itself.

Because your safety is a top concern for us and as a follow-up to tips we’ve previously published about staying safe while on the road, we offer a six more tips now that summer is in full swing:

1 Avoid using public WiFi
Yes, it seems like every hotel and airport now offers free WiFi, and it’s so easy to log into and use, but that free access also makes it easier for thieves to hack into your device and steal personal information.

2 Protect your phone
Most people keep a lotof personal information on their phones, so losing it puts us at risk. Before you hit the road, password protect your phone so only you can unlock it, and install a tracking device on your phone in case it does get lost or stolen.

3 Anticipate
Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, try to stay alert to what is going on around you at all times: when walking down the street, eating in a restaurant, unlocking the door of your hotel room…at all times. It can be easy to get into a zone when on the road, either because we’re on vacation and mentally taking a break, or because we’re traveling for work and our minds are caught up in anticipating that next big meeting. But when we space out, we won’t notice suspicious behavior, and next thing you know, you’re a victim.

4 Stay rested
Fatigue makes you a dangerous driver if you’re behind the wheel, but it also makes you a bigger risk. People who are tired are inattentive and slow to react to situations. Our decision-making abilities are also impaired when we’re tired. If you’re tired, try to avoid situations where you’re vulnerable.

5 Walk safely
Use sidewalks and cross walks even if the locals don’t. You don’t know the rules of the road in this new locale and they do.

6 Act paranoid
We try not to leave our commonsense at home, but sometimes when we’re relaxing, it’s just so easy to let our guard down. Don’t. Don’t drink too much in public. Avoid hanging out with people you really don’t know. Return to your hotel at a decent time at night. Use the hotel’s main entrance when it’s dark. Make sure that Uber drives looks like his or her photo. Stick to main roads and beaten paths. It won’t be as much fun, but it will be a whole lot safer!

Finally, also make sure you review our previous 4 tips on streetwise safety. Because we want you to enjoy your summer, but stay safe the whole time too.

Don’t Come Home to a Stench! 8 Ways to Prepare Your Home Before Your Vacation

Getting ready for your getaway? Good for you! But first, make sure your house is ready for you to be gone. We’ve talked before about preparing to be away, with a post on five ways to make your house look occupied while you’re gonein order to deter burglars. Those tips are:

 

  • Tip 1: Get a house sitter
  • Tip 2: Leave a car in the driveway
  • Tip 3: Hire someone to take care of your lawn and yard
  • Tip 4: Keep the electronics going
  • Tip 5: Keep your vacation to yourself

And of course there are the obvious tips like put your mail and newspaper subscription on hold so papers aren’t piling up and screaming “this house is empty!” to interested passers by.

But there are other precautions to take before you go to besides making it look lived in, steps you can take to make sure you’re not neglecting important tasks or leaving behind a potential mess you’ll have to contend with when you get home. Definitely follow our advice to make your house look occupiedwhile you’re on vacation, but also do the following so your homecoming can be as pleasant as can be:

1) Tell a trusted neighbor you’ll be gone. If you have a house sitter lined up, make sure your neighbor knows so they’re not wondering who the stranger is. It’s also nice for your house sitter to know there is a neighbor to reach out to should something happen. If you don’t have a house sitter, you’ll want that neighbor to keep an eye on your house while you’re gone. And if you’ve arranged for lawn care or something while you’re gone, make sure that neighbor knows it’s okay for those people to be on the property!

2) Make sure the bills are caught up. I get so caught up in getting ready to get away—like trying to get ahead of work or shopping for last minute items—that I sometimes forget to keep up with the regular household duties like paying the bills. Try to be mindful of anything that will be due while you’re gone and take care of it ahead of time.

3) Clean out the fridge. Now we’re moving into the territory that drives my husband crazy. He doesn’t understand why I have to clean out the fridge before we go away. But if I don’t, we risk coming home to stinky spoiled food that will have to be thrown out anyway—leaving behind a stench! Or produce that’s gone slimy that I won’t want to touch. Or milk that has soured. Ugh! It also helps to keep the grocery shopping to a minimum ahead of time or plan to eat up leftovers or have your own episode of “Chopped” in order to use up what you can before leaving. Even if we have a house sitter, I will toss food rather than assume they’ll eat it.

4) Wash all the dishes. There are two things that can be left in the sink when we leave: a water glass and a coffee cup. Even if it’s the last thing I do before walking out the door, I’m washing dishes. Otherwise I not only have stink to come home to, but the equivalent of cement to chisel out of that bowl or pot. Is that something I want to take on after a restful get away? No!

5) Take out the trash and the recycling. Like cleaning out the fridge, emptying all garbage cans and recycling bins will cut down on possible stench when you get back. Yes, recycling too, because that trace of milk in the carton or dogfood in the can will probably stink after a few days, even if you’ve rinsed it out. If the cans need to go to the curb while you’re gone for pickup, make sure to arrange for that.

6) Run the garbage disposal. Not having a garbage disposal, I’m not sure about this one, but I have read that you should pour ½ cup of vinegar and some water into your garbage disposal and run it—again, to avoid coming home to a stinky house.

7) Do the laundry. You’ll probably come home with lots of dirty laundry, so having those laundry baskets empty before you go will be much appreciated when you come home. But dirty laundry can also hide stench in the making, which is why you want it all clean ahead of time. We’ve had that happen with only a weekend getaway, coming home to a stinky house because of a kitchen towel used to clean up who knows what that was left sitting in the basket. Ugh!

8) This last one is optional: Clean! I don’t usually have time to clean the house before we leave, but I want to, because the last thing I want to do when I come home is to tackle housework! For me, it’s like giving myself a gift to clean the house before leaving so I can ease back into the daily grind rather than jump back into. But—it’s optional.

However you prepare for your time away this summer, stay safe, be smart, and enjoy your well-earned rest!

8 Ways to Make Your Home Safer This Summer—Before the Guests Arrive

What does safety mean to you? For some, it means eliminating accidents and for others it’s synonymous with home security and keeping intruders out. Regardless of your definition, being safe is always a concern, whether you’re at work or at home, at school or on the road.

But we tend to take safety in the home for granted. After all, it’s our home, our sanctuary, our place to get away from the pressures of the outside world. How can it not be safe? Sadly, in lots of ways!

So let’s change that. As the pace of life slows down for many with the end of the school year and summer stretching out before us, let’s take a little time to review our homes and make sure we aren’t overlooking any hazards—especially because we might have summer visitors we also want to keep safe!

  1. Test smoke alarms on a regular basis, at least once every few weeks. Yes, keep changing out the batteries twice a year, but make sure the batteries are still good in the meantime. During the summer, people tend to be away from home more often and might not even know a battery has died if they weren’t there to hear the beeping noise it makes when it needs replacing.
  2. Have an escape plan in case of fire, and ladders to get you safely from second-story rooms to the ground outside. It might seem awkward, but go over the escape plan with your summer guests—to be on the safe side.
  3. Speaking of fire, if you have a fire pit outside, have safety rules for everyone who sits around the fire but particularly for little ones who could be running around and end up getting burned. Adhere to these rules! And make sure kids aren’t unattended by the fire.
  4. Check for lighting inside and out to make sure you’re eliminating trip hazards by making them visible. Think about people making their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night or walking up to your front door while it’s dark outside. Consider putting lights on timers or programming your home automation system so lights are always on when needed.
  5. Also check for trip hazards, such as hoses outside and throw rugs inside. Even if you’re used to stepping over them or treading lightly so you won’t slip, think in terms of company coming over and someone unaware taking a fall because they didn’t know to tread carefully on or around that rug. If you have stairs or other uneven footing guests won’t be aware of, consider putting down colorful tape so it’s easier to see.
  6. Make doubly sure anything poisonous is well out of reach of little ones, even if your kids are older or grown and gone, since you could very well have a young visitor. This applies inside and outside the house, if you have lawn care or gardening supplies stored in your garage, for example.
  7. Make kitchen safety a habit by keeping sharp and hot items away from the edges of countertops and tablecloths that can be pulled down. If you’re barbecuing outside, follow the same rules, keeping sharp and hot objects out of reach of little ones.
  8. Double check window locks and latches, to make sure kids can’t inadvertently get a window open and possibly fall.

This is only a partial list of tips for improving the safety of your home with summer and guests in mind. Obviously other outdoor items such as swimming pools, trampolines and even play equipment require strict safety rules that you’ll want to adhere to. But these tips above should serve as reminders that it’s safety first, even within the sanctuary of your home. If you’d like a much more comprehensive list of safety tips, Real Simple offers a detailed room-by-room guide.

Travel Tips for Teens: Ensuring Safe Travels for Your Homeward-Bound College Student

It’s only May, but summer vacation is about to start for college students across the country, and that means teen travel, as they pack up and head home to eat everything in sight, sleep for 12 straight hours a day, and make huge piles of dirty laundry until it’s time to go back to school in the fall.

Kids at this age are somewhere between children and adults, and their commonsense hasn’t necessarily matured to the point we might prefer as they set off to make their journeys home. If you’re driving to the dorm to help them pack up and get home, you probably won’t have much to worry about. But many parents have kids going to school out-of-the-area (including me!), and it will take more than a car ride to get them home. For those kids, review these teen travel safety precautions with them, before they start that trek and end up on your doorstep.

Traveling by plane, train or bus
If your student will be traveling by plane, train or bus, make sure all arrangements are made well in advance. You don’t want to purchase a ticket only to find out your child never arranged for transportation to the airport or station, or that they didn’t know they needed to get there an hour before departure time. You’ll probably also need to work around dorm checkout times and your child’s finals, and make sure travel times fit with those.

Also review basic safety tips with your college student, including things like don’t leave their bags unattended, always keep their purse or wallet close to by their sides, be aware of people bumping into them or trying to distract them, keep their photo ID and boarding pass with them at all times, sit in crowded rather than isolated waiting areas, make sure their contact information is inside of their bags in case of lost luggage, and look up from that darn phone so they’re aware of their surroundings.

Traveling by car
If your child is driving home from school or getting a ride, you don’t have fewer worries—only different ones.

Ideally, before they even left for school last fall, you made sure they know how to check the tire pressure, fill the washer fluid, and make sure all brake lights, headlights and blinkers are working. In addition to reminding them about those pre-travel checks, encourage them to get an oil change before the trip—maybe even send them a gift card for that purpose.

It’s not only the car that must be made ready, however, it’s the child too. Review the route with them. Make sure they plan to drive only during the day, with a plan to stop every couple of hours to stretch their legs. Really stress the dangers of driving while sleepy, and, of course, make sure they know not to text and drive!

No matter how they’re traveling, charge that cell phone!
Regardless of the plane, train, bus or car that will bring your student home for the summer, make sure they leave with a fully charged phone, and that they have a power cord for charging along the way. Stress that there is no excuse for a dead phone while traveling. At all. Period.

Now, go make that bed, stock those cupboards, prep that laundry room, and get ready to welcome that hardworking student home for a summer of much-needed rest!

Wary of Winter Driving? You Should Be! Here’s Help…

Although our part of the country is going through an extremely mild winter (as in little snowpack which will probably lead to water issues this summer), other parts of the country are getting the usual blasts of arctic air and bouts of heavy snowfall. Since winter weather has to be extreme to get people to stay home, plenty of us are out there driving no matter the road conditions. And that’s dangerous.

According to reporting by USAToday.com, over 4,000 Americans have died in winter-related car crashes in the past five years. In fact, car accidents kill more people than weather disasters, and commonsense says accidents are more likely when visibility is bad and roads are slick.

We are all about safety and security at SafeStreetsUSA, and that includes watching out for you while you’re on the road. So we compiled some tips for you for safer winter driving, based on advice offered by AAA…

Before you leave the house
The best way to be ready for winter driving is to be prepared ahead of time. Take time to see to these things long before you grab your keys and coat:

  • Stock your car with things you might need in an emergency, such as blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and medication. Also carry something brightly colored in case you get stuck. (Find more advice here.)
  • Avoid driving while tired. Your reaction time won’t be as good should you need to avoid an accident.
  • Make sure your car is well maintained, and your tires are properly inflated. Or, as we like to say, make sure your car is trip worthy. This is sound advice all year long, but especially in the winter when being stranded will be a bigger challenge.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. This is in part to avoid your gas line freezing, but it’s also sound advice for being prepared for adversity.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecasts, especially before a long-distance drive or driving in an isolated area. If you can’t postpone a trip, make sure someone knows your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

While you’re on the road
Once you’ve left the house or work, follow this advice to be a safer winter driver:

  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, whether it’s snow, ice, excess water or sand that’s making it slippery.
  • Accelerate slowly so your tires get a chance to grip the road when the surface is slick.
  • Decelerate slowly because it will take you longer to slow down, and hitting the brakes is a good way to go into a skid on winter roads. You know the stoplight is ahead of you. Anticipate it.
  • That said, be extra careful of other drivers who might hit their brakes hard. Keep your distance just in case.
  • Drive slowly. (Are you picking up on the “slowly” theme here?) Yes, accelerate and decelerate slowly, but also take your turns with care, and be more deliberate and cautious.
  • Take it slow and steady when going uphill, rather than trying to power up the hill. Otherwise, you might set your wheels spinning. Build some inertia on the flat before you get to the hill instead. You want to start your descent slowly too. This will help.
  • AAA says to brake by keeping the heel of your foot on the floor and using the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Try not to come to a complete stop. It’s harder to get going again when roads are slick. This is particularly true on hills, so if you’re going uphill, keep on going even if you have to crawl along to avoid stopping.

If you get stuck
If you get stuck, you’ll be glad you packed emergency supplies in your car! But also follow this advice:

  • Stay with your car. It’s your shelter from the storm, and it’s easier for rescuers to spot because it’s bigger.
  • Walking away from your car in a storm can mean losing sight of it. Don’t do it.
  • Don’t over exert yourself trying to push or dig your car out of the snow. A little effort is okay, but save your strength.
  • If you need rescuing, tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna during the day. At night, keep your dome light on if possible.
  • If you have to, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill but try to conserve gasoline. Also make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow or ice because that could cause carbon monoxide to get into the car when the engine is running.

However, the absolute best advice for driving in winter weather is to stay home. Despite all of your precautions, you’re at the mercy of the weather and the other drivers, who might not be as cautious or prepared as you are. Wouldn’t you rather stay in, wait out the storm, and avoid the worry altogether?

Are You One of the Many Going Green in 2018? Home Automation Can Help

Although Americans tend to say they are environmentally conscious more than they act like it, there is definitely a trend toward a greener America. From re-usable grocery bags to organic foods to hybrid cars, the signs that we’re sitting up and paying attention to the consequences of our actions are all around us. Even fast-food giant and mega brand McDonald’s is going green. When that happens, we know something is afoot!

If you’ve been contemplating ways to green up your life, maybe as part of your New Year’s resolutions, and you’re shopping for a new home security system, you’re about to have a win-win situation. That’s because a home automation system can help you to be more green and consume fewer resources (while reducing your utility bills, which is a nice add-on). Here’s how:

Home automation can green up your thermostat
Heating an empty home in the winter or cooling the same in the summer are both huge energy drains. But no one wants to walk into an icebox at the end of the day in January, or an oven at the end of the day in July. With a home automation system, you can have smart control over your home’s temperature, and use your energy wisely.

Your house can stay moderately warm or cool while empty, but then your furnace or AC can kick in before you get home, so you walk into a comfort zone, not a hot or cold one. If you have pets at home, or kids who get home from school before you get home from work, you can adjust the temperature accordingly—and automatically.

Home automation can cut your electric bill
Coming home to a dark house at the end of a long day can be a dreary start to the evening, and sap your energy even more than your work and commute already did. But you don’t want to leave lights on all day just so you can drive up to a cheerful sight once it’s dark out. That’s wasteful.

Enter the home automation system that lets you program your lights to turn off and on at scheduled times, so you can have the lights off while gone but come home to a cheerful, well-lit abode. And if you have kids who leave lights on when they leave, because that’s what kids do, you can turn lights off remotely.

A home automation system won’t include solar panels or wind energy or make your washing machine more energy efficient, but every little bit really does count. Imagine what a difference we could make if all 324 million Americans cut their energy usage by just a fraction: huge!

Finally, if you’re looking for other ways to be a better citizen in the year ahead, be sure to check out these 101 tips on going zero waste. Many are ridiculously easy to do. And again, every little bit counts!

Stop Blaming Ben Franklin and Focus on Getting Ready for Darker Days Instead

Daylight Saving Time ends November 5th, and most everyone will be looking for someone to blame when the sky starts getting dark an hour earlier than we’re used to. But did you know that the man who invented the bifocal glasses did not invent Daylight Saving Time?

A Short History of Daylight Saving Time (DST)
Although Ben Franklin did write an essay on using daylight hours more efficiently by getting up earlier, it was actually New Zealand scientist George Vernon Hudson who in 1895 first proposed setting clocks forward two hours in March and setting them two hours back in October. That idea didn’t stick, but a small town in Canada kicked things off by setting their clocks one hour forward in 1908, followed by the rest of the country and then popularized by Germany. By 1918, the United States had passed legislation to establish DST, and by the end of World War II, most European countries also followed the time change.

Time to Perform a Lighting Audit
Whether or not you agree with setting our clocks forward and backward in the middle of the night when the time changes, soon it might be dark by the time you get home from work. And if you can’t see the pathway walking up to your house, it’s probably time to reevaluate your home lighting—before the days get any shorter.

One way to check the adequacy of your home lighting is to walk up to your home in the dark as if you don’t live there. Come up the sidewalk as if you’re a guest visiting for the first time.

  • Can you see your feet, the path right below you, and the path in front of you?
  • Check your porch or your front door: Is it well-lit from the outside?
  • Are there lights on inside the home to ensure suspicious characters know the house isn’t empty (even if it is)?
  • If you walk to your outbuildings, are they well-lit?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you could be risking someone tripping and hurting themselves in the dark, or even inviting burglars in by giving them darkness to hide under.

Light It Up Instead
If you’ve taken a look around and decided your lighting could use some adjustments, what then? You can place small pathway lights leading up to your home and to any outbuildings, reducing the risk of tripping over an unseen obstacle. Another option for these outdoor lights is to install motion sensor lights, which work well to eliminate hiding spots by dark buildings. If you’re home while the skies get dark, you can make sure to turn on any outside lighting and leave on a few lights inside as well. If you aren’t home, your home automation system can be used to turn on your lighting at any time you set it to, or even remotely. You can be halfway around the world, and as long as you have WiFi, you can turn on your lights.

Although we’re talking about shorter days, it is also a good idea to keep a couple lights on inside while it’s still light out as well since 65% of burglaries happen between 6 am and 6 pm. Just because it’s daytime doesn’t mean your home isn’t vulnerable after you leave for work.

We have a lot of things to credit Ben Franklin with (even swim fins are his invention!), but we can’t blame him for losing that extra hour of sleep in the Spring and that extra hour of light in the Fall. Instead, we can keep our houses well lit, thank him for our bifocals while reading a good book, and settle into the darkness and quiet that fall brings.

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Customer Reviews

I feel so much better knowing my family is protected! I spoke with SafeStreets USA in the evening and a technician was able to come install the system for me then for my parents first thing the next morning. Very impressed with his knowledge and care!

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We had our ADT system installed by SafeStreets USA and were really impressed with the service we received from our technician. He was very friendly and answered all of our questions on the system and how it worked. He set everything up in a couple of hours and was a real pleasure to talk with []

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