Archive for Home Safety Tips

Before the Wind Blows, Secure Your Trees and Shrubs

pexels-photo-552769The seasons are changing, and the colors of autumn abound.

Regrettably, fall’s stunning display is often accompanied by some unwelcome weather hazards in Pennsylvania – namely, wind – that can cause considerable damage to the very trees that produce those beautiful fall leaves.

At Duncan Financial Group, we want your yard and home to stay great throughout the season. Take a look at the following tips to ensure you keep your trees and shrubs healthy and avoid destruction that can result when the wind blows.

To protect existing trees

  • Bundle ‘em up. Go to a home and garden store and buy enough landscape fabric and plant ties to cover trees and shrubs vulnerable to the changing weather. Wrap them up for the winter and then unwrap them after spring has sprung.
  • Exercise pruning prowess. Proper pruning is essential to ensure trees can withstand winds, so make sure you use correct pruning techniques or hire a professional.
  • Trees and more trees. If you have trees that are especially susceptible to wind, consider planting more trees. Experts say to choose trees, like conifers and evergreens, to create a windbreak. As an added bonus, a windbreak placed in correct proximity to a home can reduce energy costs by up to 30 percent. Keep in mind: conifers should be planted at least 20 feet away from a structure, evergreens at least 30 feet away.

When planting new trees

  • Know which way the wind blows. Pay attention to the wind patterns in your part of Pennsylvania through the fall and winter seasons and how they affect your particular lot. Plant trees in areas where structures, such as your home, garage or shed, can serve to shelter them from the wind.
  • Give them some space. Plant trees far enough away from structures and foundations. A smaller tree should have at least a 10-square-foot space to itself, and a larger tree needs at least 30 square feet.

At Duncan Financial Group, we hope these tips will ensure that you and your yard hang tough all season long… even when the wind starts howling.

General Home Security

pexels-photo-101808Keeping your home secure

Everyone wants to keep their home safe from burglars or intruders, but not everyone wants to have an alarm system installed. There are plenty of people who prefer the do-it-yourself route, whether it’s home improvement or home security.

And nowadays, there are more options than ever when it comes to home security, so we at Duncan Financial Group want to help you sort through those options with a few tips.

Do-it-yourself options
The widespread availability of electronic tools means that homeowners can set up their own monitoring systems if they choose, without the help of a home-security company.

  • Cameras: Smaller and more inexpensive than ever, cameras can be placed nearly anywhere on the exterior of your home and monitored from inside wirelessly — or set to record footage for review later. Available software even allows you to point your laptop camera in a particular direction (say, at the front door) and check the images from a remote location.
  • Lights: Motion-detecting floodlights are an excellent deterrent to thieves, because they don’t want to be seen. Make sure they’re installed near entryways, and that they aren’t easily reached from the ground. And using timers for interior lights is a good way to give the appearance that your home is occupied.
  • Alarms: Vibration alarms are available for windows, alerting you if someone is trying to get in. Similarly, other monitors can be installed near doors and programmed to sound if a person comes within a set distance. Some even emit barking sounds to make it appear that a dog is in the house.

Even if you aren’t interested in installing security equipment around your home, there are a number of things you can do to increase safety:

  • Keep your home locked. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people leave windows or doors unlocked. Make sure that sliding doors and windows have extra security, such as a track lock or dowel in the track.
  • Don’t leave a key outside. If you need to provide access to your home while you’re away, leave your key with a trusted neighbor or friend.
  • Watch the landscaping. Thick shrubs and bushes around your porch or yard can give thieves a good place to hide. Keep them well-trimmed and ensure that problematic areas can be illuminated with your outdoor lighting.
  • Use common sense. If you’re going away on vacation, cancel your newspaper and other deliveries. Ask a neighbor to keep watch, and park a car out front. Don’t post publicly on social media or leave a message on your answering machine or voicemail indicating that you’ll be away for an extended period.

Burglars really do consider deterrents such as alarms, cameras, dogs, etc., when looking at targets, according to a study released by the University of North Carolina.  So a small investment in security can make a big difference!