You’ve packed the bags and are itching to start your vacation. Before you hit the road or hop on a plane, take a moment to think about your home. It is going to be sitting empty for several days. Have you done all you can to protect it?
According to the FBI, there were over 1.9 million burglaries in 2013, 74% of those residential. The victims of these burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.5 billion in property losses.
Though you cannot prevent all burglaries, there are steps you can take to protect your home while you are away. Consider these 9 tips:
1. Lock Everything
Though this seems obvious, it is critical to check that all areas of your home are locked. Have you locked and secured all doors and windows? Have you placed a metal or wooden bar in the tracks of your sliding glass doors to prevent opening? What about your garage door – is it locked and secured?
2. Create The Illusion Of Someone Being Home
- Keep the exterior and interior well lit. Utilize timers to turn lights on and off, those that allow for variable schedules are most effective. Consider motion sensor lights on the exterior so if anyone gets close, the lights will come on.
- You could also ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway for part of your trip.
- Keep up the outside appearance of your home while you are away – in the summer have someone help mow the lawn and in winter plow the driveway. An unkempt exterior can signal burglars that you are not home.
3. Stop Your Mail And Newspaper
Piles of mail and newspapers are a clear signal to potential robbers. Either stop your mail through the post office or ask a neighbor/friend/family member to pick it up.
4. Unplug Unnecessary Appliances
Unplug your computer, TV, coffee maker, toaster, and any other electronics or small appliances that are not needed. Not only does this protect from power surges, but it can also save power.
5. Secure Your Valuables
Do not leave valuable items in plain sight or visible from windows. Secure jewelry, sensitive documents, and other items in a fire-proof safe or even a safe deposit box.
6. Have Someone Check On Your House
Ask a neighbor, friend, and/or family member to stop by your house while you are away, at least every couple days. They can help bring in mail or any packages, take or bring back in trash cans, and adjust lights, among other things.
7. Put Away That “Hidden” Key
Do you usually have a spare key hidden outside just in case? Under a plastic rock, in a flower pot, beneath the welcome mat, above the door frame? Before you head out on a trip, remove the key from the oh-so-secret hiding place.
8. Consider The Weather
- If you live in a cold region, be sure to take proper precautions with your pipes before traveling in the winter. Make sure they are properly insulated, especially in the more vulnerable areas of your home like the attic, crawl space, basement, and those close to outside walls. Disconnect outdoor hoses. Open bathroom and kitchen cabinets to allow the warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
- Turn down your thermostat in winter to save energy, but keep it warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing. The recommended temperature for winter is at least 55˚. In the summer, you could turn up the temperature to save on electricity.
9. Don’t Tell Everyone
As much as you may want to brag about your upcoming vacation on social media, there is reason to keep your excitement a little more contained. Broadcasting that you’ll be out of town on social networks can let burglars know there will be an empty house. Wait until you get home from your trip to share all about your vacation on Facebook!
What other tips do you have for keeping your home safe while traveling?