The last thing you want to be worrying about while trying to enjoy your vacation is whether or not your home is safe while you’re away. It’s important not to let anticipation of the trip blind you to the risks. A little extra vigilance can help protect your property from damage or theft and keep your belongings safe while you are away.
The best way to keep your home safe is to have someone you trust stay there while you’re away. This way you will have someone there to water the plants, feed your pets, pick up your newspapers, and bring in your mail. It is important that your home not look abandoned while you are away: A home that is clearly unoccupied for several days is a target for thieves. By having someone trusted live in your home, you’ll easily eliminate this problem. Even something as simple as opening and closing the blinds occasionally will do a lot to protect your homes from potential thieves looking for an easy mark.
If you can’t have someone stay in your home, be sure to at least get someone to stop by as often as they can to bring in newspapers and mail, and shovel snow if required. A trusted neighbor can be employed to bring out your garage bins and put them away after collection so you can send the message that everything is proceeding as usual. Invest in timers to turn on interior lights for a few hours each evening.
Before you Leave:
- Hold your mail: If you are leaving for more than a few days, call the local post office to stop your mail delivery until you return. In many locations this can be done online by going to their website and entering your address and the stop and start dates. This will prevent mail from piling up if you do not have someone able to house-sit while you are away.
- Stop newspaper delivery: Similar to stopping mail delivery, not having several days’ worth of newspapers sitting on your front lawn is important in making it look like you’re home. It is an easy detail to forget but an important aspect of maintaining the illusion.
- Double and triple check windows and doors: Especially if you are travelling during nice weather, be sure to make sure you have not left any windows or door propped open or unlocked when you leave for your trip. Just before you walk out the door for your vacation, do a quick room-by-room sweep of the house checking that each window and door is locked and secured.
- Don’t broadcast the trip too widely: Broadcasting the exact dates of your trip and where you are going over the Internet may not be a good idea. Most people are not aware that it is not very difficult to trace an “anonymous” comment online to a physical address, and people generally don’t think twice about telling strangers that they will be away from home for several days or even weeks. Be mindful of who you tell about your trip and where you discuss the details of it. Make sure your children know to be careful as well.
- Disconnect electronics: Not only will disconnecting your electronics give you the peace of mind that you did not leave the iron on, but you will also be saving yourself money on electricity and protecting your electronics from potential power surges. Don’t forget the desktop computer, coffee pot, television, video game system, and microwave.
- Turn off the garage door opener: This is the most effective way of preventing thieves from gaining access to your home by using a universal remote.
- Don’t leave portable GPS unit in your car in long-term parking: This will not only alert thieves that you are not home but also provide them with an easy map straight back to your house. A portable GPS unit left in a car in long-term storage can be a very attractive to an intelligent and practiced thief.