Vacation season is just around the corner! You may have your time off planned and your bags packed, but have you taken the proper precautions to ensure your home is safe while you’re soaking up the sun?
While you’re away, your home is at risk for theft and vandalism. Whether you’re going away for a few days, or a couple of weeks, it is important to make sure your home is safe while you’re gone. These tips can help give you the peace of mind to enjoy your vacation, knowing you will return to find your home in the same condition you left it!
1. Notify Neighbors and Police: One way to gain peace of mind while traveling is to ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house while you’re away. It can be as simple as asking them to drive by everyday or leaving them a spare key so that he or she can bring your mail in, feed your cat, water your plants, rake your leaves, etc.
They should also have your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of emergencies. If you don’t have a friend to ask, alert your local police department of when you’re leaving and returning so they can periodically check on your home. They may go out of their way to drive by your house while on patrol, especially if you live in a small town. Give both neighbors and local police your emergency contact information.
Having someone keep an eye out for your home can help prevent additional damage if a fire or water damage was to occur or noticing if there was a vandalism or break in attempt.
2. Avoid Tipping Off Criminals: Stop and Think about what information you’re sharing—in today’s world where everything is shared on social media, it’s important to stop and think: Who could see this stuff? Think twice about posting your detailed vacation plans on Twitter or Facebook – especially if that information is visible to Internet users other than your friends and family. Be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail too. Callers don’t need to know that you’re not home – they just need to know that you can’t come to the phone right now.
While it can be very tempting to post your vacation plans on social media sites, keep in mind that you are also alerting potential criminals that your home will be vacant.
3. Keep Up Appearances: Keeping up the normal appearances of your home will deter anyone from breaking and entering. You can invest in a variable light timer that will allow you to program the lights in your home to go on and off in different areas throughout the day and night. Don’t close your curtains all the way thinking you can prevent potential robbers from looking in. This will have the reverse effect of looking unnatural during the day and keeping neighbors from spotting suspicious activity in your home. If you do normally leave your curtains open, make sure your valuables are securely locked up in a safe. Do not leave any cash, jewelry, or other valuables out, which robbers can quickly and easily take from your house. Have a neighbor pick up your mail, or get it stopped if you are going to be away for an extended period of time.
4. Pull the Plug: Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven and other appliances to protect them from power surges. This will not only reduce the risk of a home fire or electrical problem starting while you’re gonem but it will saves power as well. According to the Consumer Energy Center, many appliances use power even when they’re turned off. Do not completely turn off electricity because you may need it for heat, lights, etc.
5. Lock Up: This seems so obvious, but it’s easy to forget. Check all window, doors and outside sheds and garages. Set alarms and inform your alarm company that you will be away on vacation. Remove all outdoor spare keys, no matter how well you think they’re hidden. Provide a spare key to a trusted neighbor in case of emergency. Locking your home makes it less attractive to opportunistic burglars. If you don’t make it easy, there’s a better chance that when you get home, your house will be in the same condition as when you left.
If your home is broken into or vandalized while you are away, call a professional such as ServiceMaster to restore your peace of mind and to safely and properly clean up the damage!