Tips to Keep Your Home Secure While on Vacation
After all the months of saving up and planning, you are finally off for your dream destination. You should enjoy your much-deserved vacation, but homeowners also need to think about how to protect their home while they’re away. It would be sad to come home from your travels to find your house burglarized.
Unfortunately, burglaries occur often in cities around Pennsylvania. Homeowners need to be on their guard, especially during the summer when robbers are more active. But what can you do to safeguard your home while you’re away on vacation?
12 Steps to Protect Your Home While You’re Away
Summer should be full of road trips, long days at the beach, seeing new sites and visiting old friends. The last thing you want to worry about while you’re relaxing on vacation is home security. Nowadays, keeping your house safe isn’t as simple as just locking the doors. Don’t leave for vacation without going through this checklist to protect your property from burglars while you’re gone.
- Make it Look Like Someone is Home
- Keep the Property Tidy
- Lock Up Tight
- Install Security Cameras or an Alarm System
- Get Smart Locks
- Consider Other Smart Security Devices
- Keep Your Valuables Safe
- Hire Help
- Enlist a Neighbor
- Don’t Post Your Travel Plans
- Turn on Exterior Lighting
- Call the Police
Make it Look Like Someone is Home
Burglars often watch homes for a period of time before attempting to break in. They want to know if anyone is home and find an adequate window of time when they will be able to force the locks on the door or break a window and gain access to the house. Think about the home-care activities you routinely do throughout the week. This will help you anticipate everything that will need to be handled while you’re on vacation to keep it looking like someone is home.
Deter thieves by putting some lights and TVs on timers. You can set them to turn on and off at different times during the night and days of the week. If you have smart home automation, you can program a schedule while you’re gone on vacation.
Keep the Property Tidy
You don’t want to give the impression that nobody’s home. Before departing, pull weeds, trim the bushes, and cut back landscaping before you leave for vacation so that your property doesn’t look unkempt. This is also important because overgrown shrubs and trees can make for great hiding places for a thief trying to gain access to your home. Don’t forget to ensure that the lawn gets mowed regularly while you’re away. Plus, the main and newspaper delivery should be put on hold so that you don’t have things piling up in your mailbox or on the front door.
Lock Up Tight
Beyond locking the doors and windows, think about other points of entry that should be secured if you’re going to be gone for a longer period of time. Window well covers around the basement should be locked, for example. The garage door can be disabled and locked from the inside with a deadbolt to keep the entrance secure. You can place a safety bar or a simple wooden dowel in the track of a sliding glass door to keep it from opening even if a thief is able to force the lock. And be sure to collect any emergency keys hidden outside the house.
Additional security measures may include installing deadbolts on doors and windows to make it more difficult for thieves to enter the home. You might also consider switching out standard or less sturdy locks for high-security locks.
Install Security Cameras or an Alarm System
Many homeowners turn to security cameras and alarm systems for an extra level of security. If you have a home security system, make sure that it is set when you leave. You should also notify the home alarm company of your travel plans.
Get Smart Locks
Consider installing smart locks, which allow you to monitor any activity at the entry points of the household from an integrated mobile app. With smart locks, you can allow temporary access at certain set times for cleaning services or pet sitters while you’re away.
Consider Other Smart Security Devices
Some smart security systems also have built-in smart doorbell cameras, enabling you to view real-time video of what’s happening at your front door. Because thieves can easily break into a home through a garage door, rely on a smart garage door lock to keep this entry point secure with a heavy-duty deadbolt while you’re gone.
Keep Your Valuables Safe
Avoid leaving anything valuable in plain sight inside the house. Lock jewelry, important documents and other small items away in a combination safe. For insurance purposes, in case your house is burglarized while on vacation, keep a list of any particularly valuable things and include their serial number or a photo. Get information on Where to Install a Safe in Your Home.
Some handy local service providers can help you keep your home looking lived in while you’re gone. For example, you could schedule lawn and garden care for the period that you will be away. Having the grass cut, leaves raked or snow shoveled are all smart ways to take care of your property even when you’re not there. Be sure these hired helpers access using a smart lock or entrusting them with a spare key. Don’t try to hide a key around the home.
Enlist a Neighbor
If you have reliable neighbors or friends nearby, ask them to help. Offer to swap favors for your neighbor. Ask if they can pick up the mail, water the plants and take out the garbage cans while you’re on vacation. Then, you can do the same when they’re out of town. If your neighbor parks their car in your driveway sometimes, it also creates the illusion of more activity at your home.
In general, building a strong relationship with neighbors is a great homeowner tip. It’s always helpful to have other people looking out for suspicious activity. Neighborhood watch networks add an extra level of security because they notify others when there is a possible problem in the area.
Don’t Post Your Travel Plans
Going on vacation is exciting and it’s hard not to announce your travel plans on social media, but you never know who might receive that information. To be on the safe side, share this information with your friends and family when you talk to them. Be sure to talk to your kids about not posting this information on social media as well. Then, when you return from the vacation, feel free to share all the lovely pictures from your trip.
Turn on Exterior Lighting
Installing floodlights around the outside of your house is a good security measure. Exterior lighting is especially important over the garage door and near the back and side entrances. Think about points of entry where bushes and fencing would otherwise provide cover for a burglar attempting to break in. If you already have exterior lighting, add timers and motion detectors to help deter burglars without keeping the lights on 24/7.
Call the Police
Here’s a little-known fact: a simple call to your local police department can provide another layer of security while you’re away. Many municipalities offer courtesy check-ups on properties upon request. Having the police make rounds in your area will help deter robbers. Plus, they will be quick to respond if suspicious activity is reported at a house they know should be empty.
Extra Tips for Peace of Mind
Safeguarding your home doesn’t just have to do with protecting it from a break in, but potentially from the elements of Mother Nature as well.
- Make sure the sump pump in the basement is working (if applicable).
- Unplug electronics to minimize the risk of an electrical fire or a power surge.
- Keep your thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re leaving in the winter to prevent your pipes from freezing.
- Check with your homeowner’s insurance policy about coverage in case of a burglary.
Increase Security Around Your Home
Find a locksmith near you to help boost security at your house. The experts at Great Valley Lockshop provide a range of residential services including changing the locks, installing burglary-rated safes to protect valuables, and offering professional-quality products.