Safe Home Tips While on Vacation

The anticipation and excitement of an upcoming vacation can distract you from considering the risks of leaving your home unprotected. It pays to take precautions before you leave on vacation.  Creating a checklist ahead of time takes a bit of planning but is worth the effort and will increase your peace of mind while you travel.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that the majority of residential break-ins occur during the months of July and August.  Experts in home security say that the key to keeping your home secure while on vacation is to make sure your home is the least appealing target on your street.

By following the tips below, you can make your home harder to break into, and give yourself peace of mind that you have taken all necessary precautions.

  • Stay Quiet

While using personal pages on the Internet may be a convenient way to keep in touch with friends, sharing your itinerary can cause problems while you are away from home. Show some caution when you talk about your trip.  Your Blog isn’t the best place to announce that you will be away from home.

Be aware of who is around when you discuss your trip. Make sure that other members of your family are discreet, too.  The less information you put out there, the less likely it is to reach the wrong ears and eyes.

  • Lock Up

Before you leave on vacation be sure you physically secure and check all windows and doors. This seems obvious, but it is easy to forget. Locking your home makes it less attractive to burglars; if you don’t make it easy, there is a better chance that when you get home, your home will be in the same condition as you left it.

  • Unplug Electronics

Turning off your garage door is an effective way to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote.

Don’t leave a portable GPS in your car when you use the long-term parking at the airport. It will alert thieves that you are not at home and may give them a convenient map to your home.

  • Maintaining Appearances

If your home is obviously uninhabited, you may be at risk of becoming a target for a burglar. Remember . . . an occupied home looks lived in. Lights go on and off, and cars come and go. When you’re away, everything stops. To help create the illusion that the residence is still occupied, invest in timers that turn on the interior lights for a few hours every night. If you can get a neighbor to take out your garbage and put away the cans after the pick up, it’s another way to send the message that everything is proceeding normally at your home.

Paying someone to keep the yard mowed while you are away is a good idea if you will be gone for a significant amount of time in the spring or summer. Parking a car in your driveway can also make it appear as though someone is home. If you keep your blinds or window treatments open when you are home, be sure to do the same while you are away.

  • Mail Delivery

Piles of mail and newspapers can make it obvious that you are away. While you can temporarily stop mail and newspaper delivery, the fewer people who know that you are away, the better.  Ask a friend or a neighbor to pick up mail and newspapers, daily, to prevent telltale piles from accumulating.

  • Protecting  Your Home

A burglar alarm, while not foolproof, helps secure your home. While alarm systems are expensive, the Insurance Information Institute reports that a sophisticated alarm system can result in insurance discounts of 15 to 20 percent.  If you don’t have an alarm system, installing deadbolts on doors and windows can make it more difficult for thieves to enter your home.

The Insurance Information Institute also recommends turning your computer off and locking up important documents to prevent burglars from accessing financial and personal information. Placing expensive jewelry and small electronic devices in a safe or lock-box before leaving home will help you avoid the theft of your most valuable possessions.

  • Consider Hiring a House or Pet Sitter

The best way to make sure your house is safe while you’re gone is to have someone you trust stay in it while you’re away. You may be lucky enough to have a tidy and conscientious relative who will move in temporarily and water the plants, feed the pets and pick up the mail and newspapers. If not, there are services you can use for house sitting and pet sitting while you’re away. This can be a pricey option, but it’s a solution that touches all the bases.

  • Returning from Vacation

When you return from your trip, be sure to inspect your home immediately. Look for signs of entry or missing items. If you notice anything amiss, be sure to call the police immediately. It’s a good idea to wait outside the home until the police arrive and when they do, be sure to allow them to collect fingerprints. Be sure not to allow anyone to walk on the lawn until the police have left.

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