Many people rearrange their wardrobes and gardens in preparation for winter, so why not also reshuffle your thinking on home security to mitigate the risks colder weather brings?
For South Africans, one of the most daunting risks is load shedding, which can have a severe impact on home security systems and your protection, says Charnel Hattingh, head of marketing and communications for Fidelity ADT. In addition to power cuts, it gets darker earlier in the afternoon and light later in the morning in winter and the risk of fires is also greater.
Hattingh suggests giving your security systems a good once-over as soon as possible. Contact your security provider and put the alarm and panic buttons on test, and book a technical service call if necessary.
“This test is of the utmost importance. If the system is not functioning properly the signal may not reach your security company and they will then not know there is an emergency at your property and won’t respond,” she says.
She also recommends getting a professional in to check the tensioning of electric fencing, as it shrinks in colder weather and this can cause false alarms. Link smoke detectors to your alarm system too. Fires during winter can be caused by heaters, electrical appliances or the fireplace left burning when you go to bed.
“The best is to start at the perimeter of your property and work your way in. Think like a criminal and evaluate whether your fencing or wall, garden, windows, doors, shed, garage, etc. have weaknesses a criminal can exploit.
“As we tend to gather everyone indoors earlier and perhaps change the times we go to gym or walk the dog, security systems like garden beams and sensor lights must also be working properly. Most people still need to leave for work and school at the same time, regardless of whether the sun is up or not. To stay safe, be more vigilant in the early morning and at dusk, when you come home.”
Fidelity ADT provides six more tips for staying safe this winter:
1. Check your curb-side house number is still visible in case of an emergency. This can save critical minutes for the response team in the event of an emergency.
2. If you bring your dogs inside, ask your security company to partition your alarm system in such a way that it still offers an early warning system with pets in the house.
3. Ensure backup power supplies are in place to keep lighting, non-functional gate motors and security systems in working condition at all times.
4. Set external beams in the early evening once everyone is home.
5. Be vigilant when leaving and arriving home. Criminals take advantage of the longer hours of darkness in winter and are not afraid of the cold.
6. Ensure your security service provider has the most up-to-date key-holder contact details.
“Security needs to change with the seasons. As we prepare to spend more time indoors, have peace of mind your security routines are as prepared for winter as you are,” Hattingh concludes.
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