If you are heading out on a trip this summer, there’s a good chance you’ve put a lot of effort into your planning: choosing a destination, making travel arrangements, deciding on things to do and see, preparing a list for packing, etc. But what about the house you’re leaving behind? Summer is the peak time for home burglaries because criminals are watching for empty homes. Putting some extra planning into protecting your home before your trip can save you heartache later.
Make It Look Like You Never Left
Because you want your home to still look occupied while you’re gone, the obvious best plan is to have a friend or relative stay there. But if that isn’t possible, you can still give it a lived-in feel:
- Use timers or smart home devices to control both your indoor and outdoor lights, and have them turn on and off at various times.
- Put your television on a timer as well so sound can be heard within the house at times.
- Stop newspaper delivery, or have a neighbor pick it up each morning so they don’t accumulate on the porch.
- If you are going to be gone for more than a week, arrange for your lawn to be mowed. Overgrowth is a sign of an unoccupied house.
- Your car should remain locked in the garage, but ask a neighbor to park in your driveway in the evenings to give the appearance of occupancy.
- Make sure packages or mail don’t get left on your porch. You can contact the postal service to hold your mail, and the major carriers now have services where you can request your deliveries be held while you are away:
- USPS –Hold Mail Service
- FedEx –FedEx Delivery Manager
- UPS –UPS My Choice
- Be sure to bring in any spare key(s) you have hidden on your property while you are away.
Save Some Money While You’re Away
A few simple steps inside the house can protect your belongings and save you some money while you are gone, too:
- Set the thermostat for higher temperatures (around 80 is recommended) so your air conditioner isn’t running unnecessarily while you are out.
- Turn down the temperature on your water heater, as well! You don’t need hot water when you aren’t home.
- Unplug smaller appliances, such as coffee makers, toaster ovens, printers, etc.
- Larger electronics such as computers, stereos, and televisions (unless they are running on timers) should also be unplugged to prevent damage from power surges or electrical storms. An alternative option is to plug them all into quality surge protectors.
- Disconnect your computer from the Internet to protect your personal information and files.
- Don’t leave any valuables or important paperwork out. Make sure things like jewelry and private documents are locked in a fire-proof safe, or taken to a safe deposit box before you depart.
Who Should Know You Are Gone?
Finally, a great way to protect your home is to let the RIGHT people know you are leaving:
- Who you SHOULD tell:
- Your alarm company, if you have one. A notation on your account that you are away on vacation can help the monitoring company should an alarm take place while you are gone.
- Trusted friends and neighbors, who can help keep an eye on your property.
- The local police. Some precincts will do a “vacation check” while you are gone if the resources are available.
- Who you SHOULDN’T tell:
- Anyone while in a public setting. Whether in the store, the doctor’s office, a restaurant, etc., your conversation could be overheard by a potential burglar taking notes on dates and details.
- Anyone on social media. (Make sure your kids know this one, too!) Criminals find victims easily through careless posts. Even private settings can sometimes be seen by people you don’t know through shares, tags, or comments. Even though it may be tempting to share your travel news, never post your plans or mention that you will be away. When you are gone, don’t use check-ins which will show you’re out of town. Finally, save your vacation pictures until after you’ve returned!
With a little extra effort, you can leave for your trip with the peace-of-mind that you’ve left your home secure.
Just don’t forget to lock the doors. 😉