So, the holiday season is almost here.  Now more than ever, you should not only be thinking about family, friends and all of that holiday cheer stuff.  You should also be thinking about home security and how you can make your home and family safer.

Use this guide as you check your home for safety measures.  Hopefully, you can answer “yes” after each one these suggestions.  If you answer “no”, you should think about doing them in the future.

These are just some of the steps you can take to decrease the likelihood that you or your home is targeted.

Exterior Doors:

  • All doors are locked at night and every time you leave the house – even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Exterior doors are solid hardwood, metal or fiberglass.
  • Doors feature wide-angle peepholes at heights everyone can use.
  • If there are glass panels in or near your doors, they are reinforced in some way so they cannot be shattered.
  • All entryways have a working, key entry lock and sturdy deadbolt installed into the frame of the door.
  • Spare keys are kept with a trusted neighbor, not under a doormat, planter, on a ledge or in the mailbox.

Garage and Sliding Door Security:

  • The door leading from the attached garage to the house is hardwood, metal or fiberglass and protected with a quality keyed door lock and deadbolt.
  • The overhead garage door has a lock so that you do not rely solely on the automatic garage door opener to provide security.
  • Garage doors are all locked when leaving the house.  Make sure the door is down before driving away.
  • The sliding glass door has a strong, working key lock.  Use a bar or piece of wood to prevent the door from opening. A dowel or a pin is used to secure the glass door has been installed to prevent the door from being shoved aside or lifted off the track.  And that the sliding glass door is locked every night and each time you leave the house.

Protecting Windows

  • Every window in the house has a working key lock or a window pin.
  • Windows are always locked, even when they are opened a few inches for ventilation.

Outdoor Security

  • Shrubs and bushes are trimmed so there is no place for someone to hide.
  • There are no dark areas around your house, garage or yard at night that would hide prowlers.
  • Every outside door has a bright, working light to illuminate visitors.
  • Floodlights are use appropriately to ensure effective illumination.
  • Outdoor lights are on in the evening – whether someone is home or not.  You should use a photo cell (dusk to dawn) or motion sensing light.
  • Your house number is clearly displayed so police, fire and EMS can find your home quickly.

Security When Away from Home

  • At least two light timers have been set to turn on / off when you are away from home.  These can be beneficial even if you just work late hours.
  • If you have an alarm system, set it and test it regularly.  If you don’t have one, think about getting one or at the very least, have alarm stickers and/or signs around your property.
  • Mail and newspapers; have a trusted friend / neighbor pick them up.  Don’t call to cancel because other people will know you are not at home.
  • Ask a neighbor to tend to your yard and watch your home while you are away.

Outdoor Valuables and Personal Property

  • Gate latches, garage doors and shed doors should all be locked with high – security exterior padlocks.
  • Gates, garage doors and shed doors should be locked after each use.
  • Grills, lawn mowers and other valuables are stored in a locked garage or shed or if left out in the open, are hidden from view and securely locked to a stationary point.
  • Every bicycle is secured with a quality lock and chain / cable or U – Bar.
  • Bikes are always locked, even if you leave them for just a minute.
  • You should video all valuables or take pictures of them and store this information in a fireproof lock box.

Officer Larry Jacobs is the Crime Prevention Officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department.  He can be reached at

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.