Christmas is a season to be jolly. But while children are jumping with joy and families are enjoying the holidays, some just see the season as an opportunity to do harm, unfortunately. Santa is obviously not pleased.
Every year, the Philippine National Police calls on the public to scale up security and safety measures as crimes during the holidays are expected to surge, specifically theft and robbery. At least 794 cases have been recorded every week from July 2014 to January 2015, including the very long holiday season which typically starts at the beginning of the BER months. As expected, 27% of recorded robbery incidents occurred from 12:01 a.m. to 4 a.m. Where are the crime hotspots? According to official data, the streets (31 percent), residential areas (26 percent) and PUVs (21 percent) are the places frequented by robbers and thieves.
You probably think that your home is the safest haven. But the truth is that it is only as safe as you want it to be. You must not take security for granted because peace of mind does not come cheap. People living in condos in the Philippines might have an advantage as far as security is concerned, with a security system operated by building administrators, but Christmas safety tips still come in handy. When it comes to safety, we are not only talking about crimes but also emergencies and other threats to the home and family. For a safe and a truly merry Christmas, here are 15 things to remember.
Lock It Up
This is a very basic, but often ignored, reminder. While condo living is generally safe, the habit of locking doors and closing windows before going on vacation is very important. Change worn out locks and invest in high-quality ones. Locked entry points will give burglars a hard time and will likely drive them away.
Install a Peephole
A peephole or eye hole is among the most affordable security investments you can have. To ensure safe condo living, you must be in control of who you let in your home. Once you hear a knock, especially if you are not really expecting anyone, peep into the hole before you unlock and open the door.
Ever Heard of Home Automation?
Want a smart home? Home automation is gaining ground in the real estate market these days because of the security and environment-friendly features it has. In a nutshell, a smart home is a home you can control, anytime and anywhere. Home automation allows you to control the locks, lights, appliances, and security cameras remotely with just your phone or a mobile app.
Inspect and Go for Quality
In 2013, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) recorded a total of 4,029 fire incidents in the country, with 1,079 in the National Capital Region alone. Based on the data, most of the fire incidents happened during December. And several reports have faulty and substandard Christmas lights to blame.
When buying Christmas lights, go for LED bulbs. They are energy-saving and don’t normally overheat. Make sure that the ones you buy have been inspected and are certified safe. Don’t leave the lights plugged for 24 hours, and let them cool down when no one’s home.
Keep Away from the Curtains
If you are putting up a Christmas tree or hanging lights around the house, one of the security tips for your condo is to make sure to keep them away from curtains and other combustible decors and furniture. If left unattended, a simple spark can cause a fire emergency and curtains are only going to make matters worse, as these can make fire spread more quickly.
Know Where the Exits Are
As you go about your daily routine, you might have missed emergency exits and fire escapes many times. Wherever you are in the building, make sure you and your family know exactly where the exits and escape routes are. At the same time, know what numbers to call and familiarize yourself with building officials who may be helpful in times of emergencies.
Have an Emergency Plan
Level up your safety measures by having an emergency plan. Discuss it with the rest of the family and practice it regularly. Decide what to do, where to go, and what to bring. Emergencies can happen anytime, even during holidays. You owe it to yourself and your family to always be prepared.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
It is always nice to live in an environment of harmony. People living in condos are typically busy individuals and always on the go. Saying “hello” to neighbors is often overlooked. However, condo living warrants a community, for without it, the experience wouldn’t be as great.
Neighbors are also a good deterrent to crime. If you trust a neighbor enough, tell them to watch over your unit while you are away on a holiday vacation and pick up mail left outside your door. In case of an emergency such as fire or home accidents, your good neighbors will also come to your rescue.
Do You Live Here?
Another benefit of getting to know your neighbors is that you become familiar with names and faces. It would be easier to tell if someone is a resident or if someone is just lurking around. If the threat persists, tell the building administrators about it.
Major condo developments such as DMCI Communities screen people who come in and out of the building, including guests and food delivery personnel.
Go Easy on Social Media
Practice caution if you want to update your friends in social media about your plans for the holidays. You don’t want criminals to be taking over your home while you are away. Delay posting your holiday pictures and flight details. There are many cases wherein the criminals got their tip on social media.
Repair Faulty Wiring and Appliances
Christmas is the time of the year with the most activities. You are expected to host several get-togethers and accommodate guests. Make sure that all outlets and electrical units are working, and have faulty appliances repaired so that guests won’t be subjected to wiring and electrical emergencies during their visit. Also, avoid running cords and wires under the carpet. Having people walk all over them might spark a problem.
Stay Alert with Emergency Numbers
Everyone should memorize the emergency numbers at home, in school, or in the office. In case someone gets his cellphone snatched during Christmas shopping, at least the victim has a list of necessary contact numbers in a paper slipped in his bag or wallet. Or if something happens at home, like a threat to safety, the person left there will know which people to alert.
A useful guide for a safe condo living this holiday is keeping a first-aid bag at home. The kitchen will be very busy with a lot of cooking and someone might get burned. Someone can also fall from a chair when putting up decorations. Kids can get over-excited and slip. Always be ready.
Safe Gifts Only
Gift-giving is among the many reasons to love BER months, but remember that not everything that is pretty and colorful is safe. Beware of the gifts you buy from shops and bazaars. Make sure they are safe for children and are age appropriate. For example, don’t give little children toys with tiny pieces that they can easily choke on.
Easy on Food and Drinks
To a lot of people, Christmas is a good reason to indulge. But go easy on foods that are high on cholesterol if you want to fully enjoy the rest of the season. Don’t drink too much on every reunion or party if you don’t want to spend the holidays in bed, drunk and wasted. How about giving yourself the gift of health this Christmas?
The holidays are a good time to be merry, but do not let your guard down. Always be on alert for threats to security and other emergencies. Safety isn’t easy and you have to constantly work to maintain it. This December, level up for a more enjoyable Christmas celebration.