The most popular vacation months are, not surprisingly, also the months during which burglaries peak. Not trying to scare you, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry and take some extra precaution just before you set off on your getaway. That way, you won’t come back home to horrendous surprises or be obsessing about the safety of your house when you should be relaxing on your vacation. Take some extra time and vigilance to secure your house properly so you can enjoy your trip.
Remove all spare keys
Photo by Michael Gray on flickr
The usual hiding places for spare keys are generally well-known to all – underneath doormats, in potted plants, in the mailbox, above the door frame, etc. Burglars know this and being experienced, they will most likely see through even what you think is a genius hiding place for your spare key. So don’t risk handing your keys over to someone so they can rob you, and remove all spare keys from around the exterior.
Ask for help
Photo by Christopher Craig on flickr
The best thing you can do is have someone check the house every day or two. This can be a friend, relative, or your neighbor – someone who will check that everything is okay, collect the mail, water the plants, and allow some fresh air in. It’s best if you have a trustworthy neighbor who can always keep watch and to whom it won’t be a hassle to help with these small chores. If you get someone outside of the neighborhood to do this, make sure you let your neighbor know about it, and preferably introduce them to each other.
Consider a sitter
If you have pets, they’ll need a bit more than just frequent check-ups. A trustworthy friend who would live in your house while you’re away will have it all covered. But if no one is available (or not responsible enough), you can hire a house-sitter or pet-sitter to do it. It’s a more expensive solution, but if you’re willing to put away some cash, it’s the best one for both your house and pets.
Mind your valuables
Burglars are opportunistic; they’re just looking to get in, grab what valuables they can, and leave quickly. So don’t leave your valuables in obvious places or places close to the doorway, and don’t put them in a place where they can be seen through a window because that will just call for trouble. The smartest thing to do would be to put everything that has value to you in a safety deposit box and leave in the obvious places some inexpensive items that you don’t care much for.
Check your home security system
If you have a home security system, double-check that everything is updated and working properly before you leave. Experts who specializes in security systems, suggest it’s a good idea to change the code of your house alarm before heading off – and don’t, by all means, make the passcode your birth date. If you don’t have any kind of home security system, consider installing one, whether it’s fire alarms, cameras, or more secure fencing. This will keep your home safe at all times, not just while you’re away.
Make your home look occupied
Burglars will head for homes that obviously look unoccupied. Make your home look as if it’s being lived in by keeping the curtains the way you always keep them – nothing says “unoccupied” more than curtains closed during the daytime. Call your local post office and arrange for them to stop mail delivery until you get back; post offices can hold mail from 3 to 30 days. Also, stop newspaper service because a pile of newspapers will be a very obvious hint that no one is there. You don’t have to do any of that if you arrange with a friend or neighbor to do check-ups, which is the best option either way because there might be unexpected ads and brochures delivered at your doorstep. Make sure to pay attention to lights inside your home – if they’re turned on all the time, that will also make it obvious that no one is there to turn them off, and your electricity bill will go through the roof. Install a light switch timer which will control your lights automatically according to a programmed schedule – Amazon offers a wide range of them. Don’t forget exterior lighting as well. Lastly, pay attention to the lawn and make sure it is maintained while you’re away, just like it would be if you were still at home.
Photo by Hash613, from Wikimedia Commons
Do some organization and preparation ahead, double check everything, and you’re ready to go. Don’t forget to also unplug your appliances to protect them from power surges, ensure your fire alarms have working batteries, set your thermostat, and protect your pipes if you live in a cold area. And leave all the Facebook vacation bragging for when you get back – just in case.