For many Americans, summer is a time of fun vacations and weekends at the lake or beach. As you pack up to leave town, take a moment to consider some of these tips to keep your home safe and secure while you are away.
#1 Secure Your Home. Double check all of your doors and windows to make sure they are locked, utilize deadbolts where possible, and do not forget to lock windows that are seldom used. Most importantly, arm your home alarm system before leaving the premise.
#2 Entrust a Neighbor or Family Member. Provide a neighbor you trust or a family member with your trip itinerary. While you are gone, they can keep an eye on your house and pick up your mail, flyers and any packages that are delivered in your absence. You can also ask the post office to temporarily stop your mail service until you return.
#3 Don’t Forget the Lights. Set your lights on an automatic timer to achieve a “lived in” look. Unfortunately, leaving one light on for your entire trip will draw attention to your absence, not your presence. To make sure your home looks occupied, pay attention to how your light patterns change through the evening while you are at home. Creating a lighting pattern that appears natural is what makes it believable.
#4 Don’t Alert the Bad Guys that You’re Gone. You should leave curtains and blinds how they appear when you are home. If you normally leave all the curtains and blinds open, it will be quite noticeable to anyone watching if they are suddenly shut for an extended period of time.
#5 Tend to Your Lawn. If your vacation is longer than a week, you might want to consider having someone take care of your yard and landscaping. An unkempt yard can signal that you are out of town just as easily as piled up mail.
#6 Keep Your Vacation Plans Under Wraps. Social media is one aspect of home security that is often overlooked. When we post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we don’t always realize who has access to that information. Check your privacy settings and be careful what information you share. If you must share online, make sure you are only sharing with trusted friends. In a recent case in Tulsa, a man by the name David “Bonehead” McCollough was arrested for using Facebook to plan his burglary. It is alleged that “Bonehead” found a man on Facebook who had updated his status to reflect when he would be getting surgery. The burglar took advantage of the information and attempted to rob the home. Fortunately, the homeowner was at the location and able to call police. Vacation countdowns, detailed plans, and real time pictures through social media can alert anyone watching that your house is vacant.
#7 Make Sure Someone is Watching Out for You. Your alarm monitoring company should know when you plan to leave your house vacant for more than a day or two. It is their job to watch over your house, they need to know that you are out of town so they can respond accordingly.
#8 Burglars Shouldn’t Be Your Only Worry. When leaving for vacation, most people consider the threat that burglars pose to the safety of their homes but forget about the threat of a fire. Make sure to unplug all non-essential electronics like computers, stereo equipment, fans, and coffee makers. For example, if you leave your coffee maker plugged in and the timer is set to brew every morning, imagine how quickly the appliance could overheat. Unplugging your appliances and electronics will not only help prevent a fire, it will also help you save money on your electric bill.
#9 Keep Tabs on Your Home While You’re Away. There are many technological advances that can help you keep tabs on your home while you are away. There are now services available that allow you to control your thermostats, lights, locks, and other devices from the convenience of your smartphone. Moreover, you can arm and disarm your system from an app and receive push notifications in real time if a security issue arises in your home.