Your airline tickets are purchased, your hotel reservations are booked and your time off from work is scheduled. By all accounts, you are ready for the perfect vacation, right?
Not so fast… Even if you live in a wonderful neighborhood with observant neighbors and well-lit streets, you still need to take precautions to ensure that your abode remains safe and secure while you are out of town.
Following are seven tips for securing your home while you are away:
1. Avoid publicly announcing your travel plans
As tempting as it may be, refrain from posting details of your travel plans on any social media sites. Sure, your friends and family love “following you,” but so do criminals who may view your posts as open invitations to enter your home and pilfer your belongings in your absence. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are an easy way for those with less-than-honorable intentions to understand your plans and your patterns, enabling them to strike when you are not around.
2. Alert your neighbors
While you should avoid letting the general public know where you are going and for how long, you do want to alert your neighbors to you your travel plans. Tell them where you will be and make sure they are aware of any friends or family that may stop by in your absence. Provide them with your cell phone number in case of an emergency, and ask them to call the police if they see any suspicious activity at your home while you are gone.
3. Don’t let the newspaper give you away
You’ve certainly noticed when your neighbors are out of town by the stack of newspapers in their driveways. You may have even seen boxes pile up on their front porch, as well. Criminals notice these things, too. Have a neighbor, friend or family member pick up your mail and newspaper on a daily basis. Sometimes notifying someone who doesn’t really know to stop your mail or newspaper delivery can be an invitation for criminals.
4. Hide valuables from view
Criminals are crafty and their hijinks are often supported by days – and maybe even weeks – of planning to ensure that your home is at its most vulnerable when they make their move. They will peek into windows, watch from the street or maybe even imitate a salesperson to get a better look inside. Make sure that valuables like silverware, china, electronics, or gaming equipment are out of view.
5. Double check windows and doors
Double check all windows and doors to ensure that they are locked. The easiest point of access for a burglar is a window or door that has been accidentally left unlocked, providing them with an easy entrance to your home.
6. Consider installing a home security system
There are a variety of home security systems on the market these days, from do-it-yourself options to full-scale monitoring plans. Before installing your system, keep the following in mind:
- Install window and door sensors on all entry points, including second floor windows and basement doors.
- Place motion sensors in rooms where you store valuables, like silver or jewelry.
- Purchase a system that includes email/text alerts and a web portal, so that you can monitor your home from wherever you are.
- Install keypads or other controls out of view so that would-be intruders can’t see if the system is unarmed.
- Make sure to arm the system when you leave home.
7. Light up your exterior
A dark house is vulnerable, so make sure that you aren’t casting a shadow for a burglar to easily enter and exit your home. Any illumination that could draw attention to a stranger walking across your lawn or tip-toeing down your driveway is welcome. Consider installing the following in an effort to keep your home aglow:
- Pathway lighting: Pathway lighting is inexpensive and can provide enough light that your neighbors or passersby can see someone attempting to enter your home without an invitation.
- Motion sensitive lighting: Motion sensitive lighting only comes on when it senses movement within its range. This means that one misstep will leave a potential burglar bathed in brisk light for the neighbors to see.
- Timed lighting: If you would like your home illuminated from dusk until dawn, install timers on your outdoor lights.
Whether you are leaving town on business or taking the family on a week-long vacation, take necessary precautions to ensure that your home is protected. It only takes a few simply steps to ensure that your home will remain secure until your return.
About The Author: Angelo DiGangi is a Home Depot “on the floor” sales associate in the Chicago area and a regular contributor on electrical products in the home for Home Depot’s website. His interests range from providing tips on home security to lighting and appliances.