12 Home Protection Tips When You Travel
When you’re finally able to take a vacation, it’s great to put your feet up and take things a little easier. You can drop the stresses of work and enjoy some time for yourself.
But if you don’t square away things at home beforehand, it’s difficult to rest easy. It’s essential to follow a few home-protection tips such as the items below before you leave.
- Alert the Alarm Company
If you have a security system, inform the alarm company when you’ll be gone so their team can be on higher alert. They’ll ensure your system stays active during your absence, and they may drive by more often to make sure everything’s secure. Don’t forget to let the company know if you come home early, so you don’t set off alarm bells for them.
- Shut Down Your WiFi
A more recent concern for homeowners has been the constantly interconnected nature of their electronic devices. A growing percentage of homes have smart thermostats, voice-activated assistants, smart security systems, and more — all of which are capable of being hacked.
If you want your security system to stay in operation and your private information to remain secure, flip off your WiFi before you leave so hackers can’t find it on the server. And while you’re at it, protect your home computer.
An open home computer provides access to untold amounts of personal information. Change your passwords, secure your email account, log out of accounts, and stay safe with your online usage.
- Remove Valuables from Plain Sight
Some potential burglars will “case the joint” before choosing to enter the premises. They’re trying to decide whether the residence is worth their trouble. If you leave valuables in plain sight through the windows, you’re more likely to become the victim of a robbery.
- Ask a Neighbor to Collect Mail and Newspapers
Another thing burglars look for is signals of occupancy. If they see a stuffed mailbox or newspapers piled up on the front porch, those are indications that you’re not home. Ask a neighbor to collect your newspapers and mail so burglars won’t see a prime opportunity to enter uninvited.
- Secure Second-Floor Entry Points
Most homeowners are fairly conscientious about locking first-floor doors and windows, but they may forget about access via the second floor. It’s true that only two percent of burglaries take place on the second floor, but you should still lock all windows on that level. Also, you should remove ladders and trellises that make it easier for burglars to gain access.
- Arrange for Lawn Care
Hire a landscaping company or ask a neighbor to trim your grass if you’re planning to take an extended vacation. Again, you want to minimize any signs that you’ve been gone for a while.
You might also take this opportunity to trim branches that hang near a window. The goal is to make it as difficult as possible for a burglar to reach your second floor.
- Put Lights on a Timer
If you have smart-lights, set them to turn on at random times throughout the day. This is better than simply leaving a light on while you’re gone because it heightens the impression that someone is present.
If you don’t have smart lights, it’s not expensive to install them. You could also ask a neighbor to go in once or twice a day to flip lights on or off for you.
- Leave Exterior Lights On
Although most burglaries happen in the middle of the day while people are at work, it’s still worthwhile to protect your home at night. Illuminate the house fully so that, if there’s any suspicious activity, your neighbors may spot and report it.
- Hire a House Sitter
The precautions above work best when you’re gone for just a couple of weeks or less. If you’re going to be away longer, or you live in a high-crime area, hiring a house sitter might be your best option.
The cost of house sitting need not be high. You might work out a deal with a neighbor to exchange house-sitting services.
Or you could allow a friend or relative to live in your home rent-free while you’re away, as long as the person keeps it in good condition. He or she will get free lodging, and your home is protected, so it’s a win-win.
- Don’t Hide Keys on the Property
Nix the traditional hide-a-key. Experienced burglars know most of the tricks, and can identify hide-a-key objects somewhere on your property to gain entry. If you’re worried about getting locked out of your house, leave the key with a trusted neighbor instead.
- Don’t Bother with a Portable Safe
A portable safe seems like a great way to protect valuables while you’re gone, but it’s hardly burglar-proof. Burglars look for portable safes, and instead of trying to crack them on the premises, they’ll simply take the whole thing and open it at leisure elsewhere. If you don’t have a safe that’s built into a wall or solidly attached in some way, it’s not worth having.
- Save Your Social Posts Till You Get Home
There’s nothing that screams, “Come rob me!” like social posts telling the world you’re out of town. Most people don’t know everyone on their friend lists well enough to trust them, and if untrustworthy friends find out you’re away, they might take the opportunity to rob your house.
Save the social posts for when you get home, and just enjoy your vacation while you’re on it.