Holidays are normally times of excitement, adventure, fun, and relaxation. However, in the current climate of crime and lawlessness we live in today, it is very important to consider some safety issues while away from home, on the road and at your destination. Long gone are the days where the only thing which was kept under lock and key was the criminals.
The days of traveling without concern for the safety of your house, family and possessions have unfortunately departed from us.
Tips For Keeping Your Home Safe While You’re Away
Ask Someone to Keep an Eye on Things
If you are good friends with your neighbors, you can mention that you will be going on vacation and would appreciate their looking out for the place a little.
They’re the first line of defense while you are away, and you can return the favor when they are gone. You will also want to give them your vacation contact information, in case of an emergency.
An additional security measure would be to become a member of your local security services. You can let them know you are going to be away and they will often send extra patrols through your neighborhood to establish a presence. While this is not a replacement for asking someone trusted to stop by a few times, it adds just that extra layer of security.
Install Timers on Your Electronics
A dark house at night for a week straight is an undeniable sign that there is no one home. However, you do not want to just switch a light on as you head out the door and leave it on the entire time.
Fortunately, there are a large variety of timers on the market that plug right into an outlet and turn your lights and other electronics on and off at certain times of the day. Normally people tend to only think of using these timers on lamps, but having radios plugged into them is a good idea too to create noise.
When buying timers, be sure you get a timer that works with random intervals. You don’t want lights that turn on at exactly 7 pm and turn off at 10 pm every night. Some models even pair with your smartphone so you can turn certain outlets on and off at will.
Have Someone Mow the Lawn/Shovel the Driveway
One of the biggest giveaways that someone is not at home, is an unkempt lawn without the smallest hint of human movement. Therefore, find a neighbor kid, family member, friend, or landscaping company to mow your lawn in the summer.
If it is one of the first three options, paying them in some way is a good form. Obviously, you will be paying the landscaping company. Moreover, asking someone to take care of any other outdoor chores that might arise is a good idea.
For example, if a storm comes through and knocks branches down in everyone’s garden, and your house is the only house where it has not been picked up, it is pretty clear you are away.
Neighbors are probably your best bet here, as they will be the ones to know if something has happened on your street.
Leave the Blinds Open (If You Normally Do)
If you are someone who normally leaves the blinds open in your home during the day, do not close them when you go on holiday. It may seem strange to do so, but it is an obvious giveaway to criminals that something is outside the normal routine.
You want things to look normal and lived in, a house that is all closed up for a week straight does not give that appearance. It gets complicated when you have electronics on a timer. When they turn on at night, it could end up being obvious that nobody is at home.
To counter that, close the curtains halfway, or close them strategically so that certain areas or rooms are hidden, while curtains in other areas remain open.
Beware of Social Media
In our digital world with its social media, every vacation is instantly shared on the internet for the entire world to behold. It’s indeed tempting to post your photos right as you snap them and share it with your entire stream of friends.
Have ever wondered what feast criminals will have in your house? By sharing your holiday photos while on holiday, you broadcast to the whole world that you are not at home right now, and your stuff is ripe for the taking.
So skip the photo-posting, checking in, and status updates like “Off to the airport!” You can gladly share all your awesome pics when you are back at home.
Yes, I know, this is so obvious. While it seems like common sense, be sure to lock every single possible entry to your home, including deadbolts. While you may lock the doors when you go to work, there are usually windows and/or doors that usually stay unlocked, doors on the upper level for instance. Before you leave for a vacation, go through the house and lock absolutely every window and every door.
Don’t Leave Spare Keys Out
If you have a spare key concealed somewhere, under a mat, attached to a mailbox, in a fake rock, now is the time to remove them and put them away. If a would-be thief knows you are away, they will feel free to take their time in searching for spare keys. They also know all the most typical hiding spots way better than you do.
Lock the Garage Door
If you have an automatic garage opener, you’re already pretty secure. Those doors are hard to open for burglars. However, there is a workaround, called “fishing.” A burglar will snake a coat hanger through the top of the door, and pull the emergency release trigger. This turns off the automatic opener and allows the door to be opened manually. This is not possible on all openers, but it is a definite a risk for some.
No matter which type of door you have, the best way to protect it is to install a deadbolt-style lock. Just one per garage door will do the trick, but one on each side is a failsafe.
Don’t Lead Burglars to Your Home With Your GPS
Many a GPS, either the portable or built-in style, has led thieves directly to unsuspecting homes. When a car is left at the airport, a criminal can break in, turn on the GPS unit and often find out exactly where home is.
If you have a portable unit, do not leave it in the car either at the airport or in your hotel parking lot at night. If you have a built-in unit, set “home” for something other than your actual home address. Use a nearby intersection or shop instead.
Stash Valuables in the Safe
While at home, there are often cash, family heirlooms, etc. that are out for our use and enjoyment. When you go away, however, it is best to put all of that stuff into your safe. You do have a safe, right? Just in case your home is broken into; the bad guys will not be able to get to your truly valuable stuff.
Hire a House Sitter
One option that covers many of these tactics, is to hire a house sitter. Whether a family member, a friend, or other acquaintance, having someone actually stay at your home to care for and keep an eye on it is a great way to ensure its safety. If you have someone trusted who is convenient to your location, plants can be watered, mail/packages can be taken care of, and the house can generally be cared for.
Tags: gps, holidays, instagram, planning trip, security, social media, valuables