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Keep Your Home Safe on Vacation With These Simple Tips

Keep Your Home Safe on Vacation With These Simple Tips February 16, 2024


Notify Trusted Neighbors and Friends   One of the most important steps to take before leaving for vacation is to notify trusted neighbors and friends that you'll be away. Give them the dates you'll be gone and share your contact information so they can reach you in case of an ...

Notify Trusted Neighbors and Friends

 

One of the most important steps to take before leaving for vacation is to notify trusted neighbors and friends that you’ll be away. Give them the dates you’ll be gone and share your contact information so they can reach you in case of an emergency. 

Ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your home while you’re gone. Request that they take note of any suspicious activity, like unfamiliar cars parked nearby or unknown people lurking around the property. Provide them with the contact information of a relative or friend who has a key, just in case immediate access to your home is needed.

Knowing you have responsible neighbors watching over your home can give you great peace of mind. It adds an extra layer of security. With more eyes on your property, there’s a better chance of spotting potential problems early and alerting you or the authorities right away.

 

Make the Home Look Occupied

 

While you’re away, you’ll want to make it appear that someone is home. This helps deter burglars scoping out vacant homes to target. 

One of the best ways to do this is by putting lights and a TV on timers. Set timers so that lights turn on and off at appropriate times in the evenings and mornings. Also set a TV on a timer so it turns on and off during times you would normally watch it. The changing lights and background noise from the TV will make it seem like someone is actively home.

You can also arrange for a trusted neighbor or friend to pick up any mail or packages delivered while you’re gone. A buildup of mail is a clear signal that no one is home. Have your neighbor hold onto it securely until you return from vacation. Or if possible, put a hold on your mail delivery through the post office while you’re away.

Following these tips will make your home look lived-in and make burglars think twice about targeting it. Coming home to a secure house will let you relax and enjoy your vacation knowing everything is safe.

 

Hide Valuables

 

When preparing your home for vacation, it’s important to secure your valuables so they are not visible to burglars casing the neighborhood. Start by locking up jewelry, cash, coins, small electronics, and other expensive or sentimental items in a home safe or bank safe deposit box. Safes that are expertly hidden or too heavy to remove are ideal. Lock up firearms and ammunition separately in gun safes. 

Also ensure window treatments are closed in rooms containing valuables. Open curtains or blinds allow prying eyes to peer inside, scoping out potential loot. Keep all window coverings fully closed throughout the house before leaving. Consider placing valuables in less visible areas like interior rooms or closets so they are not obvious targets during a break-in. Taking these steps to conceal and secure your valuables will provide crucial peace of mind that your possessions are protected while you’re away.

 

Unplug Appliances 

 

Unplugging appliances before leaving for vacation is an important safety measure. Appliances that are plugged in continue to draw a small amount of electricity even when turned off. This creates a fire hazard if an appliance has an electrical fault while you’re away.  

Focus on unplugging major appliances like televisions, microwaves, coffee makers, and toaster ovens. It’s also a good idea to unplug heat-generating electronics like laptop chargers, stereos, and desk lamps. Basically, walk through your home and unplug anything that isn’t actively in use while you’re gone. 

Some specific tips:

– Unplug TVs at the wall outlet, not just at the power strip. The TV will still draw power when plugged into the power strip alone.

– Microwaves have some of the highest leakage currents. Be sure to unplug them before leaving.

– Unplug small kitchen appliances like the coffee maker and toaster oven to be safe.

– Consider unplugging unnecessary fridges and freezers if you’ll be gone for over two weeks. 

Taking the time to unplug electronics before vacation gives you peace of mind that you’ve reduced electrical risks while you’re away. It only takes a few minutes to walk through your home unplugging appliances. This simple step can prevent fires and electrical damage, saving you big headaches when you return from a stress-free vacation.

Adjust Thermostat  

 

Before leaving for vacation, adjust your thermostat to an energy-efficient temperature. In the summer, set the thermostat to a higher temperature like 80°F. This will minimize energy usage and prevent the system from overworking to cool an empty home. Conversely, lower the thermostat in the winter months. Setting it to 55-60°F will prevent pipes from freezing while saving electricity that would otherwise be used to heat an vacant house. Programmable thermostats make this step easy by allowing you to set customized temperatures for the timeframe that you’ll be away. With Vivint smart thermostats, you can even adjust the temperature remotely via an app on your phone if needed. Taking this one simple step can lead to significant energy bill savings while also protecting your home’s plumbing and HVAC system.

 

Stop Mail and Newspaper Delivery

 

One of the easiest ways to signal to potential burglars that your home is vacant is 

to allow mail, newspapers, packages and flyers to pile up outside or in your mailbox. 

Take a few minutes before your trip to contact the post office and any delivery 

services to request a temporary hold on deliveries while you’re away. 

For mail, you can submit a temporary hold request online at USPS.com or fill out 

a PS Form 8076 to have your mail held at your local post office for pickup when you return. 

Newspapers and magazines can also typically be put on hold by contacting their 

customer service numbers.  

Don’t forget about any regular deliveries like subscriptions, grocery deliveries, 

or meal kits. Reach out to those companies via phone, email or their website to 

pause deliveries as well. Consider pausing any smart home devices that announce 

deliveries also.

 

The key is preventing any noticeable buildup outside the home that signals 

no one is around to bring items inside. This simple step takes just a few minutes 

and can make your home far less of a target. Welcome yourself back from vacation 

by collecting mail and packages from your post office rather than coming home to 

an empty, vulnerable house.

 

Lock All Doors and Windows 

 

Before leaving for vacation, take the time to double check that all entry points to your home are properly locked and secured. Walk around the entire interior and exterior of your home to ensure doors and windows are shut tight and locked. Pay special attention to the following areas:

Front and back doors – Check that the deadbolts and door knobs are locked.

Garage doors – Make sure the garage door is all the way down and that any side entry doors are locked. Disconnect the automatic garage door opener so the door cannot be opened remotely.

Sliding glass doors and windows – Slide the doors and windows shut tightly and lock any integrated locks or use dowels/pins to prevent them from being opened or lifted from the outside. Close and lock any window latches.

Basement doors and windows – Make sure all basement entry points are locked or blocked. Secure basement windows with locks or dowel rods if accessible from the outside.

Pet doors – Lock pet doors or block access to them so they cannot be used to gain entry.

Gates, sheds, or other outbuildings – Check that all gates, sheds, and structures on the property are locked up tight. 

Taking time to double check all locks provides peace of mind that your home is properly secured. Be sure to keep spare keys with a trusted neighbor rather than hiding them outside, which could aid burglars. Thoroughly locking all entry points deters opportunistic break-ins while you are away.

 

Install Security Cameras

 

Setting up security cameras is one of the most effective ways to deter burglars and monitor your home while you’re away. Strategically position cameras to cover all entrances, windows, and valuables. 

Choose cameras that offer high resolution video and night vision capabilities. Outdoor cameras should be weather resistant. Ensure cameras will continue recording if they lose WiFi by selecting battery-powered or plug-in models.

Point interior cameras at high value items like TVs, computers, and jewelry. Position exterior cameras to capture a full view of doors, garage, and yard. Angle cameras to cover approaches and driveways leading to the home. 

Install cameras high up for a wide vantage point burglars can’t obstruct. Place indoor cameras inconspicuously to avoid drawing attention. 

Select a camera system that sends motion alerts to your phone and offers cloud storage. This allows you to monitor activity and review footage remotely. 

Well-positioned security cameras provide 24/7 monitoring and are proven to deter break-ins. They give homeowners peace of mind knowing their home is protected even when they can’t be there in person.

 

Use Lighting Timers

 

Installing lighting timers is an effective way to make your home look occupied while you’re away on vacation. The goal is to automate lights to turn on and off at appropriate times throughout the day and night, just as they normally would if you were home. 

There are several options for lighting timers, including mechanical timers, digital timers, and smart lighting systems. Mechanical timers are simple dial timers that you plug lights into to turn them on and off at preset times. Digital timers can be programmed more precisely, allowing you to set multiple on/off times for different intervals. Smart lighting systems take it a step further, allowing you to control lighting remotely via smartphone.

When setting up lighting timers, aim to mimic your normal usage patterns. Set interior lights in living spaces, bedrooms, and bathrooms to turn on in the morning and evening hours. Exterior lighting by doors and in the backyard should be programmed to turn on at dusk and off later at night. 

Stagger the lighting schedules and vary the length of time lights are left on to make it less obvious they are on timers. Setting different schedules for different parts of the house creates a lived-in look. Turning on some lights for just an hour or two in the evening suggests someone is home active in that part of the house.

Using lighting timers is an easy way to make your home look occupied with minimal effort while you’re away. Just be sure to test the timers thoroughly before leaving to ensure proper operation. Automated lighting provides peace of mind your home will look lived-in and secure.

 

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