Getting the Most from Your Home Security and Surveillance Systems

burglar alarm maintenanceA good security system can save your life, but are you really getting the maximum benefit from all those whistles and bells? When it comes to home security and surveillance systems, you really get out of them what you put into them, and even small tweaks can make a huge difference to your safety and security. It’s not always enough to configure your equipment according to the factory specifications, but you don’t need to be a professional alarm installer to optimize your system to its maximum potential.

Maximizing Your Security System

Even if you have a great system, you can always expand it for heightened security. There is always room for additional motion sensors, door and window contacts, window locks and even a reliable driveway alarm. Take a stroll through your home and look for the weak spots. Explore the perimeter, move through each room, and try to put yourself in the mindset of a burglar. Home Security Store carries a wide array of alarm accessories, so you can easily build on your existing system without replacing your control panel.

Second, it’s important to note that even a world-class security system isn’t going to protect you if you don’t actually use it. It’s remarkable to see just how many people will invest in a professional-grade system only to ignore it like a piece of old wall art. At the very least, you should arm your security system every time you leave the house and every night before going to bed. But of course the most effective security measure is to prevent a break-in from occurring in the first place, which leads us to our next point…

If nobody knows about your home security system, burglars may still try to break in. Your system is one of the few pieces of property that you do want to advertise to the outside world, so by all means, post plenty of signs and window decals. The mere knowledge of a home security system will send most burglars running in the other direction.

CAM-DVR-KIT1Maximizing Your Surveillance System

When it comes to your home surveillance, remember that more is always better. There is always more ground to cover, and more vulnerable spaces to record. Some burglars will enter through the front door, some will enter through the back, some will slip in through the kitchen, and others will look for weaknesses in the garage. You should always have at least one camera on the front porch, in order to serve as a deterrent. A dummy camera will also work. The important thing is that it’s clearly visible to everyone who passes by.

Next, take a look at the recording process. Do your cameras record to a remote DVR? A built-in DVR? A cloud network? If you have limited hard drive space, you may want to invest in a high-capacity DVR or NVR with greater storage space. Cloud recording—if you don’t already use it—is extremely beneficial, because it enables you to access your recorded footage from absolutely anywhere, even if your surveillance equipment is damaged or stolen by the thieves.

Lastly, does your system include mobile integration? In other words, can you view your cameras remotely from a smartphone or tablet? If not, you may want to upgrade your system for mobile readiness, or purchase a couple of IP (Internet Protocol) cameras to work alongside your existing system. This technology allows you to monitor your home much like a professional monitoring station, and even receive alerts in the event of a security breach.

If you’re looking to take your home security system or home surveillance to the next level, check out the wide selection of alarms, accessories, and camera equipment available at Home Security Store. We offer the best prices on the most advanced equipment, and most orders ship within one business day. Every home security system can be improved, and every improvement can make you just a little bit safer. Take command of your security today. 

The TMI Factor – Is Your Big Mouth Compromising Your Home Security?

women speakerVery few home invasions are random. Burglars choose targets based on a number of factors, including perceived affluence, ease of entry, and of course, vacancy. Burglars especially love it when you take a much-needed vacation, because they can make their way through your home with little chance of being detected. But how does a criminal actually know that you’re leaving town? The answer may be a lot more sinister than you realize.

A Professional Burglar Speaks Out

Walter T. Shaw once belonged to the Dinner Set Gang, one of the most notorious burglary rings in the country. A seasoned professional with a lengthy rap sheet, Shaw claims there has never been a home he couldn’t get into. According to Shaw, in an interview with MSN Money, “Americans tend to tell everyone they’re going on vacation, a weekend getaway or a business trip.” Shaw further elaborates that thieves have informants everywhere, and that his own tipsters included carpet installers, bank tellers and hairstylists. “These folks were often told about a customer’s upcoming trip and gave us the details, making it very easy to plan our ‘visit’ to the house.”

Social Media Madness

It’s one thing to chat with total strangers about your vacation plans; it’s another thing entirely to announce your plans to the world via CyberSpace. “OMG About to spend the next two weeks in Cabo! #winning.” Well it may interest you to know that as many as 80 percent of burglars use social media to find potential targets, according to a report from Friedland. So just say no to social media vacation announcements. Even if you have the maximum privacy settings on your accounts, you never quite know who’s listening in.

It’s Not Just Word of Mouth

Aside from talking too much, we can inadvertently send messages to would-be burglars simply by how we organize our trash. For example, let’s say that you just purchased a new 60-inch HD-TV for your home. Just one problem. You placed the box out on the curb for the trash collector. You might as well put up a giant billboard that reads, “Hey burglars, I just bought a new $800 TV. Come and get it!” Many burglars will even dig through trashcans while casing a home, so be very mindful of what you throw away. Shred all personal mail and financial records before disposing of them, and don’t advertise your valuables to the curious public.

Don’t announce travel plans via social media. You never know who’s following.

Additional Vacation Tips

If you do plan to head out of town for a while, there are a few things you need to know. For starters, don’t let newspapers or advertisements pile up on your porch, and don’t let the mail collect in your mailbox. Ask a trusted neighbor to collect your mail and other deliveries while you’re away. Additionally, set up some timed lights to shine during the nighttime hours. This will present the illusion that someone is home. A fake TV light can reinforce this illusion even more. Remember, it’s all about how you communicate to the world, and verbal communication is only a very small part of the equation.

Securing Your Home

Even when you’re extremely careful, and you go to great lengths to avoid the TMI factor, you can’t always avoid a burglary. You can greatly reduce your odds of becoming a victim, but you can’t guarantee that it won’t happen to you. A burglary occurs every 15 seconds in the United States, and every home needs a quality security system. If you’re still rolling the dice on your home safety, check out the wide selection of home security systems right here at Home Security Store, and see just how easy and affordable it can be to establish professional-level security. And next time you’re tempted to tell your local barista about your upcoming Vegas trip, just remember those three important letters: TMI.

The Top 3 Home Security Essentials

HomeIs your home secure? Burglary prevention is all about being proactive, and it doesn’t take tremendous effort to protect your home against thieves. It’s all about having the right tools at your disposal. The majority of burglars in the U.S. are committed by unskilled males under the age of 25, most of whom are looking for easy targets. There are a lot of home security products out there, from full-fledged systems to simple burglary deterrents, but we have narrowed down the three most important, which no home should ever be without.

1. An Alarm System

First and foremost, every home should have a quality alarm system in place. It is the single most important ingredient in any home security recipe, and it’s the first thing that criminals look for when casing a home. Home security systems are more affordable than ever, and many of the newer wireless systems are incredibly easy to install. Make sure to advertise your system with plenty of yard signs and decals, so that any would-be intruders are made instantly aware of your armed security.

2. Surveillance Cameras

No, you don’t need to drop $3,000 on a government-grade surveillance system. Even a couple of simple, inexpensive IP (Internet protocol) cameras can be extremely effective for optimizing your home security. And when placed in a highly visible location (such as on a front porch), security cameras can make excellent burglary deterrents. In the event of an actual home invasion, your cameras may help to secure a conviction, while improving your odds of recovering any stolen property. Most importantly, the footage removes the mystery from the crime, thereby enabling you to maintain your power in the situation. If you’re on a budget, you can use dummy cameras to scare away burglars.

3. Security Lights

It may surprise you to find lights included among the top 3 security essentials, but hear us out. Even though the majority of burglaries statistically occur between the house of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., security lights are tremendously effective for deterring the most dangerous of home invaders: the nighttime burglars. When you remove the cover of darkness, the thieves are left visible and vulnerable, and in most cases, this will send them running in the other direction. Invest in a set of quality motion sensor lights, and never allow criminals to lurk in the shadows while your family sleeps.

A biometric reader is far more secure than a traditional door lock.

Honorable Mention

If you already have your security, surveillance and lighting needs covered, consider maximizing your home safety with a few additional components. For instance, a driveway alarm makes an excellent early warning system, and can provide you with instant alerts whenever someone creeps onto your property. You might also replace your locks with keyless biometric readers, in order to eliminate the vulnerabilities associated with traditional locks. Finally, consider reinforcing your windows with windows bars or aftermarket locks (latches alone are insufficient).

Do You Have Kids?

If you have small children in the home, you’re going to need a few additional safety essentials not typically included in your standard home security plan. Home Security is about protecting your family not only from outside forces, but also from potential dangers within the home. Pool alarms, door latches, cabinet locks, baby monitors…these are just some of the child safety essentials that you’ll want to incorporate into your home security equation. You can find many of them here.

If you’re looking for a top-grade home security system at an affordable price, check out the wide selection at Home Security Store. Arm your home with the ultimate protection, and experience renewed peace of mind.  

Halogen vs LED Security Lights

floodlights on homeHome security is about so much more than just amassing alarms and cameras. A good set of security lights will stop nighttime burglars in their tracks, but you have a lot of choices when it comes to lighting. If you peruse the options in your local home improvement store or online at Home Security Store, you may find yourself perplexed by all of the LED and halogen packages at your disposal. Which lighting configuration is actually better? Let’s take a look at just a few of the variables that set halogen apart from LED.


Halogen bulbs work similarly to incandescent bulbs, and are designed using a tungsten filament and halogen gas. The tungsten evaporates into the gas, causing the bulb to illuminate. Since the evaporated tungsten particles are recycled with each use, halogen lights are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. Home Security Store offers a variety of halogen lights that use motion sensor technology, perfect for warding off would-be home invaders.

In addition to being environmentally sound, halogen lights are dimmable and produce a strong, unyielding light. If you’re looking for blinding brightness that will shine a spotlight on any unwanted guests, you can’t go wrong with halogen. You’ll also appreciate halogen if you’re looking to save money, as halogen makes an extremely economical choice.


Light-emitting diode (LED) lights pass electrical currents through a semiconductor. LED lighting has become extremely popular in recent years, with LED porch lights, flashlights and even keychain lights dominating store shelves. Its popularity should come as no surprise. LED is long lasting, reliable and energy efficient, and experiences no delayed warm-up. Just check out the wide variety of LED security lights available at Home Security Store.

Solar power, motion detection, LED…you really can have it all.

First, let’s take a look at the energy efficiency. Halogen lights may be superior to incandescent bulbs, but LEDs are more than three times more energy efficient than halogen bulbs, so LED lighting definitely wins in the green lighting department. And while LEDs don’t always have the same omnidirectional range of halogen bulbs, they’re much cooler to the touch and can last up to 25 times longer. So if you’re in need of lighting that goes the extra mile, just remember the letters L-E-D.

Additional Considerations

When it comes to home security lighting, you’ll want to consider a few variables beyond filament (or lack thereof). For instance, you’ll want to ensure that your lights use motion sensor technology, thereby saving you on energy costs while also deterring criminals. Second, consider going with solar-powered lights. Not only do they provide the ultimate in energy efficiency, but they will save you a fortune on electricity costs (or batteries) in the long run. Security lights are more affordable than ever before, so you can easily find halogen or LED lights with solar power and motion detection technology at an extremely reasonable price.

Light Your Path

So just to recap briefly:

  • Halogen lights are extremely bright and offer seamless omnidirectional illumination.
  • LED lights offer superior environmental efficiency and longevity, without generating heat.
  • Solar-powered lights are great for the Earth and great for your wallet.
  • Motion detection is the ultimate secret weapon for nighttime home security.

In short, halogen and LED can both make for worthwhile light sources. The important thing is that you can incorporate security lighting into your home security equation. When combined with a quality alarm system and reliable locks, it can dramatically reduce your chances of becoming a victim. It’s not about luck; it’s about being proactive with your security.

Is Your Home Security System Missing Something?

alarm2So you think you have the ultimate home security system. Whether you installed it yourself or placed your fate in the hands of a professional installer, you may want to take a few moments to determine whether you actually have everything you need. Because even if your system is sufficient, you may be surprised by how easily you can take it to the next level with just one or two simple accessories. Make your way through the following checklist and see if you have everything you need to effectively keep the bad guys away.

Door/Window Contacts

Some systems rely exclusively on motion sensors to detect unlawful entry, but a complete system will also require door and window contacts on all major entry points. Maybe you already have contacts on your front door and window, and that’s a great start, but it’s important to note that many burglars enter through the back, so pick up some extra contacts if you need them. They’re small, inexpensive, and extremely reliable.

Motion Detector

Most alarm systems come equipped with at least one motion detector, but the problem is that many of these systems come equipped with only one. Unless you live in a third-story apartment, your home probably has more than one vulnerable entry point, so if you’re still relying on a single sensor, it’s time to upgrade your home security plan. If you have dogs and cats running around, you can even purchase pet-immune motion detectors.


A good siren can send burglars running for the hills, but a quality strobe light adds a heightened level of intimidation that sirens alone seldom achieve. If you want to turn a great home security system into a powerhouse, consider upgrading your standard siren with a siren/strobe combo. It makes for a very powerful psychological deterrent, and it’s an easy modification to make.

Key Fobs and Mobile Control

If you have a wireless or hybrid home security system, you may be able to incorporate remote access, whether in the form of key fobs or mobile apps. A key fob will even work with many hardwired units (the trick is finding a model that’s compatible with your system), and it can make an invaluable tool to have in an emergency situation. Mobile integration allows you to unlock an array of automation features and even manage your system from halfway across the world. If your system doesn’t currently support mobile control, you may be able to optimize it by installing a wireless module inside your control panel. Consult your documentation.

Winn Dummy CamSurveillance

No home security system is complete without a few surveillance cameras. Not only do cameras make excellent deterrents, but they can help secure a conviction in the event that a burglary does occur. Even professional burglars are intimidated by security cameras, and quite often, these devices can be even more effective than alarms when it comes to warding off criminals.

Signs and Decals

One of the easiest home security modifications is also one of the most forgotten. You may have the most sophisticated alarm system under the sun, but if no one knows about it, you may still suffer the trauma of a break-in. Make sure to surround your home with yard signs and decals that alert the world to your top notch security system…even if you don’t actually have a security system .

Additional Burglary Deterrents

We’ve already touched upon the subject of deterrents, but cameras and yard signs are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a few additional deterrents that definitely deserve an honorable mention. For instance, motion-sensored lighting is highly effective for preventing nighttime burglaries, as are TV lights. Dog bark alarms can emulate the presence of a fierce guard dog, and if you can’t afford a full-fledged surveillance camera, you can still deter burglars with a quality dummy camera.

If your home security system could use a bit of an upgrade, check out the full selection of accessories and deterrents at Home Security Store. We offer the best prices you’ll find online, and our products are among the best in the industry. 

Essential Safety Tips for College Women

safety tips for college womenCollege should be the most exciting time of your life, filled with unforgettable memories and perhaps even the occasional class attendance. You shouldn’t have to worry about threats from your fellow classmates, but sadly, college women are still subjected to violence on a regular basis. As often cited in the famous publication Fraternities of Fear: Gang Rape, Male Bonding, and the Silencing of Women, at least one in four female students will become the victim of a sexual assault at some point during her college career. Don’t let it happen to you. Here are just a few simple but important tips for protecting yourself during those life-changing collegiate years.

Lock Your Doors

If you want the full college experience, you’ll certainly want to explore the wonders of dorm life. You must be diligent, though, even in a women-only dorm. There is a practice known as hall cruising, whereby predators gain access to a dorm—usually by winning the trust of an unsuspecting resident—and cruise the halls in search of unlocked doors. Get in the habit of locking your door whenever you step through it, whether to enter or leave.

Carry Pepper Spray

Yes, we realize that this one might seem a bit extreme if you’re not accustomed to carrying self-defense tools on your person, but pepper spray canisters are extremely small and discreet, and can substantially enhance your peace of mind. You can even find pepper spray iPhone cases for sale, which are perfect for those evening strolls through the quad.

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

In other words, follow your instincts. Don’t enter your dorm room alone if you see strange men lurking nearby, and call 911 if you believe that you’re being followed. If walking alone after hours, leave your headphones in your pocket or handbag. Predators love to pounce on oblivious victims, so don’t give them the chance. Which leads us to our next point…

safety tips for college girlsWalk Escorted During the Evening

Ideally, it’s best to completely avoid walking alone after hours. We realize this isn’t always possible, but remember that there is strength in numbers. Travel with friends whenever you can, and find out if your campus offers after-hours escorts. Many universities will enable you to walk to your car with campus police during nighttime hours, so you can safely make your way through those dark corridors without constantly looking over your shoulder.

Never Leave with a Man You Don’t Know Well

So you’re at a bar, a party or even the campus library, and you happen upon a guy who seems attractive, charming and altogether well to do. This should go without saying, but not every man you meet is as trustworthy as he seems, and it’s never wise to follow or get in a car with a guy you just met. Ted Bundy was said to have been incredibly charming, and while that might seem like an extreme example, it’s worth bearing in mind.

Drink While Supervised by Friends

Studies show that more than half of sexual assaults involve alcohol, so it’s always wise to have a group of supportive friends at your side. By supervising one another, you and your friends can better ensure that everyone in your party remains safe. For instance, if you have to get up and use the restroom, you never want to leave your drink completely unattended, as the date rape drug is still rampant on college campuses.

Just Yell Fire

Just Yell Fire is a nonprofit organization, a movie and a movement. Using the company’s comprehensive website, you can educate yourself about avoiding violence and abuse on college campuses; check out the video today, and become a part of this important and potentially life-saving campaign. You don’t have to live in fear. By being proactive about your safety, you can maintain your power and focus on all the things that make college life great.

Home Security Advice from Actual Burglars

iStock_000005678666MediumMost burglars are unskilled amateurs in search of an easy target. We say it often at Home Security Store, but it’s an important point to reinforce. When you understand the ineptitude of the average home invader, it’s much easier to recognize the importance of a good security system. In other words, you don’t need CIA technology to secure your home. But what happens if you’re targeted by one of the rare but dreaded professional burglars? How do you protect your home then? For that, it’s best to seek the advice of someone who knows firsthand. We’ll want to see what actual professional burglars are saying.

What Do the Experts Recommend?

I stumbled upon a fascinating article from MSN Money, entitled A Master Thief’s Home Security Tips. The title pretty much says it all, and the article does not disappoint. William T. Shaw, a former member of the Dinner Set Gang (one of America’s most notorious burglary rings), is the subject of the article, and provides a wealth of fascinating and important insights that every homeowner should be made aware of. If you haven’t seen the article, you should definitely read it in its entirety, but I have included some of the highlights here.

6 Major Takeaways from the Article

1. Don’t blab about your vacation plans to everyone in sight, and don’t announce them ahead of time on social media. As Shaw noted in the article, “Stop treating strangers like they’re you’re best friend.” Shaw further noted that criminals have informants everywhere, and some of his own informants included hair stylists and carpet installers.

2. Remember to place home security decals and yard signs along the back of your house, and not just in in the front yard. Shaw told MSN that “the No. 1 way into a home is through the French doors or sliding doors in the back.”

3. Invest in a quality surveillance system. “[Burglars] don’t have the time — or in many cases the talent — to disable surveillance systems,” Shaw told MSN. “And they don’t want video surveillance of them rummaging through your home winding up in the cops’ hands or worse, on the evening news for their own neighbor to finger them.”

iStock_000003918820XSmall4. Adopt a canine companion. “Little yappy dogs are a huge turnoff,” Shaw observed. “I would never go into a house that has one.” Shaw further noted that criminals are deterred by dogs because the little monsters just won’t stop barking, and the incessant noise can easily draw the attention of neighbors or even the owners.

5. Use your kitchen to your advantage. This one may come as a surprise to many people, but Shaw pointed out that he always keeps his safe in the kitchen. “That’s the absolute last place robbers go. I never went into a kitchen.”

6. Don’t use your garbage for advertising. TV boxes, computer packaging, receipts for large purchases…burglars love these things. Many of them will dig through your trash to determine which homes are worth robbing, so be very careful about what you throw away in your own home.

Don’t Let the Burglars Win

With a bit of planning, you can deter even the most skilled criminals. It all starts with a quality home security system. Check out Home Security Store to view a wide array of affordable systems for every home, and take steps to protect your loved ones and personal possessions from even the savviest and most skilled crooks out there. 

Home Safety for the Elderly

home safety for the elderlyAs you drift into your golden years, your safety needs change. You want to maintain your independence, but you must be more proactive than ever before about keeping yourself safe and secure inside the home. You don’t need to turn your life around or dismantle your home; you just need to make a few simple modifications to ensure that you’re equipped to meet the unique challenges associated with growing older.

Consider the Following Tips

Add handrails to your stairs on both sides, and also inside the shower. And while we’re on the subject of showers, you’ll also want to line the floor with a quality floor mat.

Get a medical alert system. In the event of a fall, cardiac event or other medical emergency, you need a lifeline that enables you to call for help from any location, especially if you’re unable to reach a phone. With a medical alert system at your side, you’re always in control.

Install automated lighting. With automated and motion-sensored lighting, you’ll never need to fumble around in the dark, and you’ll always have a convenient source of illumination when you need it.

Use double-sided tape on area rugs. When not properly restrained, area rugs can become a slippery household hazard, especially when they’re placed over hard floors.

Install smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home, and check them monthly to ensure that they’re all working properly.

medlical alert

A medical alert system can quite literally be a lifesaver.

Never let strangers into your home for any reason. If a solicitor comes to your door and you’re not expecting them, just send them away. If you are expecting them, make sure to check their identification before allowing them into your home.

Keep your doors locked at all times. This one may seem like common sense, but far too many of us forget to heed this simple but essential tip. Make sure to keep your windows locked as well.

Get a quality home security system if you don’t already have one. The good news is that senior citizens are statistically no more likely to become home invasion victims than any other members of the population, but it’s still important to secure your home.

Don’t keep large quantities of money inside your home. In the event that a robbery does occur, you don’t want to lose a sizable portion of your savings to criminals. Keep your money in a bank or credit union.

You Can Be Independent

The big takeaway here is that you don’t need to surrender your independence just because you’re growing older. With a few simple modifications, you can feel perfectly safe and confident in your own home as you go about your daily routine. Home Security Store carries a wide array of home and personal safety products for people from every walk of life, and we invite you to check out our inventory and experience true freedom for yourself.

Breaking Into Your Own Home – How to Find the Weak Spots

Processed by: Helicon Filter;In order to beat the burglars, you must think like a burglar. No, you don’t need to don a ski mask and prowl through the neighborhood; you just need to meticulously make your way through the interior and exterior of your home in search of weaknesses and vulnerabilities, much as a burglar would do. By auditing your home from the perspective of a home invader, you can better protect it from all angles and secure your loved ones and personal property.

Explore the Perimeter

Take a walk along the perimeter of your home. If you were a burglar, how might you enter? Are any of the doors unlocked? How about the windows? In all sincerity, how easily will your windows open from the outside, even when the latch is theoretically holding them in place (the answer may surprise you). If your present locks aren’t doing the trick, it may be time to add some window bars. As you gaze into your windows, are your valuables in plain sight? TVs? Gaming consoles? Computer equipment? If so, you would be wise to close your blinds when leaving the house. Criminals love to window shop.

Once you’ve thoroughly circled your home in search of weaknesses, take a few steps back. Are there any clues that would indicate the presence of an alarm system? Perhaps a yard sign or window decal? The majority of burglars are deterred by the mere presence of an alarm system, so you want to make it very clear that your home is armed…even if you don’t actually have an alarm system in place. Dummy cameras also make very effective deterrents. You want to give burglars a reason to turn the other way before they enter step up to your porch.

1300786_51861087Explore the Interior

Now that you’ve finished your perimeter audit, step inside your home. Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee that you’ll never be burglarized; you can only minimize the odds. A skilled or determined burglar may still make their way inside, even if they have to break a window, so it’s important to assess your home’s interior as well. The goal here is to protect your most treasured valuables. Most criminals will be in and out in under 10 minutes, and will grab whatever is convenient.

So when walking through your home, do you see anything valuable and convenient in plain sight? Place cash, personal information and small valuables in heavy safes, and keep the safe in a discreet location. You can also use diversion safes to hide small valuables while still allowing for easy access. Consider concealing some of your valuables in your kitchen. Believe it or not, burglars seldom enter the kitchen, due to its inconvenient location within the home and its perceived absence of desirable goods.

Secure Your Home

Finally, keep your alarm system armed, especially at night and when you’re away. If you don’t already have a home security system, consider purchasing one today. It’s one of the best lines of defense you can have against robbery and theft. If you’re concerned about the cost, check out the wide selection at Home Security Store. We offer the best selection of DIY systems at the most affordable prices, all from top brands like Visonic, DSC and Honeywell. You can’t put a price on quality home security, but that doesn’t mean you should have to pay a fortune to protect yourself and your family. 

Travel Security Tips

summer travel tpisYou have been working hard all year, and now it’s time to start planning that exciting summer getaway. Maybe you’ll take a Hawaiian cruise, or perhaps a romantic trip to Paris. Whatever destination you choose, make sure to bring plenty of sunblock, take lots of photos, and most importantly, be mindful of your security needs. The excitement of an exotic retreat tends to distract us from the important practical matters of safety and security, so before you race to the terminal shouting “Au Revoir,” consider a few important preparative tips.

Be Mindful of Social Media

The excitement and anticipation of an upcoming getaway can be hazardous to the health of your home. After all, you don’t want to keep the magic to yourself. You want to share your enthusiasm with the world. Tweets, status updates, insta-whatevers…it’s very important that the people in your life be made aware of your eagerness and good fortune. There’s just one problem. Research shows that nearly 80 percent of burglars use social media to scope out potential victims. So if you use Cyberspace to boast of your big trip to Idaho (hey, there are plenty of things to see in Idaho), you may just attract an unwanted element to your home while you’re away. Wait until you return, and then you can post all of the photos, brags and hashtags you want.

Set Your Alarm

And while we’re talking about the home, let’s not forget the importance of having a quality home security system. If you don’t already have one, and you plan to leave your home completely unattended, now would be a good time to start shopping around for an alarm system. Vacant homes are three times more likely to be invaded if they lack a quality alarm system, so don’t underestimate the extraordinary value of this oft-overlooked household essential.

travel-safety-tipsBe Prepared

If you’re just heading from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for a few days, you can ignore this section for the most part, but if you’re planning to travel abroad, you now have some very important preparations to make. First, visit the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website to learn important information about your destination, complete with travel alerts and safety tips. Then visit the CDC Travelers’ Health web page for valuable information relating to important vaccines and medicines. Make sure to remember your passport, visas, medications and first aid, and determine whether you’ll need health insurance to cover your time overseas.

Lock up Your Valuables

Ideally, you’ll want to leave your valuables at home, but if you do travel with certain desirable goods like jewelry or electronics, make sure to lock them up whenever they’re not on your person. If your hotel room, cabin or timeshare property doesn’t have a safe, you can use affordable diversion safes to conceal your property. It’s important to be proactive about protecting what’s yours, because American tourists are viewed as optimal targets by thieves in many parts of the world. Many of these thieves associate Americans with wealth, and that’s just one more reason while you’re better off leaving your valuables at home. By flaunting your extravagances (no matter how meager they may seem to you), you may attract criminals like a magnet.

Exercise Common Sense

Finally, a few words about personal safety. Hopefully, much of this will sound like common sense, but it’s certainly important to emphasize. Don’t travel alone if you can avoid it, take time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your destination, heed any safety warnings provided to you by the Department of State or the local tourism authority, and only use authorized public transportation and officially marked taxi cabs. Most importantly, have a great time and try to enjoy the breathtaking sunsets – unless, of course, you’re visiting Seattle, in which case, enjoy the coffee.