How to secure your house while on vacation
With August being another big travel month you should take steps to ensure your house is as you left it when you return.
A good start is to let trusted neighbors know you’ll be away and to leave a house key and itinerary with a neighbor, friend or relative. Be sure someone knows how to operate your alarm system if your home has one in case they need to go inside to check on it. Once you have alerted those that need to know you will be away, the next thing to focus on is discouraging potential thieves by giving the impression you are home.
Don't let your home be an attractive target for thieves
After making sure all doors and windows and entranceways of the property are locked, the next defense is to make sure your property looks occupied. There are a number of ways this can be accomplished, including using staging when possible. For example, a dog is often a deterrent to an intruder. To create the illusion your home has one, a large stake with a thick chain attached and a big water bowl next to it in your yard can give the impression that a large dog is somewhere on the premises, making your home a far less attractive option.
Using automatic timers on lights or televisions sets and setting them to turn on and off in the evening hours can give the impression that a property is occupied. Just make sure to have them turn off as well: a porch light that stays lit for a week straight is usually an indicator no one is home. They are readily available at many hardware stores, and usually for under $20.
Another potential deterrent is to park a car in the driveway while you're away, or to ask a neighbor to park their car in the driveway while you're away. Make sure to move the car occasionally to give the impression someone is coming and going at the residence.
Other ways to give an impression that a house is occupied include:
Arrange with the post office to have your mail held, or have a trusted neighbor check for packages, advertisements, newspapers etc.
Arranging to have the lawn mowed (depending on how long you'll be away)
Installing motion-activated flood lights. The lights are energy-efficient and the sudden illumination can surprise someone approaching your home
Vacations and social media
With the recent explosion in popularity of social media sites, there are some additional rules to follow while you're vacationing. Some of these include:
Don't use social media to announce you're going on vacation - a safer alternative is to only share your activities with a few close friends
Don't provide check-ins, status updates or post vacation photos until you return home
Protection against disaster
Making sure your home is secure from physical break-ins is your first priority, protecting your home from electrical, fire and flooding problems is also important.
Before leaving for your trip, it's a good idea to unplug everything except for the refrigerator/freezer and any lights you have on timers. Double-check that the oven and stove are turned off, and that appliances such as irons, fans or hair dryers are unplugged.
Another good idea is to turn off the water if you'll be travelling for more than a week. A broken pipe or leaking appliance can cause costly repairs, which could then potentially impact the amount your pay for renters or homeowners insurance.
Make sure your home is insured
Finally, never leave without making sure you have adequate home insurance protection for your house. The amount will vary from person to person, depending on the value of the home and its contents, but the outcome will be the same for all: the peace of mind a well-insured, safely secured and monitored residence provides. Enjoy that vacation!
Sources: unlock.schlage.com; usatoday.com; money.usnews.com; dailyfinance.com