Tips to Protect Your Home While on Vacation

12 Jun

Summer time is here and for many of us that means vacation. If you are headed off on a summertime break, make sure that in addition to packing your bags, stopping the mail and booking your accommodations that you take a few steps to help protect your home. 

According to the FBI, crime rates increase roughly 10% in June, July, and August. This spike in burglaries and other crimes are often due to people not properly protecting their house in a rush to hit the road. 

Here are a just a few tips to help keep your home safe while you are gone on vacation this summer:

Put Lights on Timers: Making it look like you are home is a great way to deter a burglar. Lights that go on and off can make it appear that someone is home and can discourage thieves looking for an easy target. 

If you have smart lights, you should be able to turn them on and off remotely (as long as you have an internet connection) so turning them on now and again at different times can give your house the appearance of someone being home. 

Dead Bolts Are Your Friend: Putting dead bolts on all of your doors can not only help keep burglars out, it may result in a discount on your insurance. Many insurance companies will offer a small discount on your premium if you have deadbolts installed on all of your doors. 

Check with your insurance company to see if they offer a discount and what type of locks will result in a lower premium as many offer discounts for smart locks as well.

Burglars Hate Alarms: While a high-end professional burglar can most likely bypass a home security system, they will absolutely deter crimes of opportunities and less experienced criminals. A monitored security system that not only sends out a loud alarm but also contacts the authorities can be a huge deterrent to burglars. 

Most insurers will discount your premium if you have a monitored alarm system. While the discount will vary by insurer it can easily range up to 10 percent so can be well worth it. 

Exterior Lights: Thieves prefer the cover of darkness so make sure you have the exterior of you home lit up at night. Motion detector lights or exterior lighting on a timer are a great way to make sure the exterior of your home is lit. 

Stop Your Mail and Newspapers: Nothing says “I’m not home” like a bunch of newspapers in your driveaway or mail bursting out of your mailbox. Stop your newspaper and mail when going on vacation or have a trusted neighbor collect it every day or two. If you have packages coming when you are gone ask your neighbor to put the inside your home or keep them for you until you get back.

Keep Quiet: Don’t announce that you are going away or are gone on social media by posting photos or updates about your trip. It is best not to mention your trip to anyone except trusted friends or family. Wait until you are back at home to post photos to your social media accounts. 

Lock it Up: This should go without saying but make sure you lock up everything, doors and windows before hitting the road. It is easy to overlook a window or two so carefully walk through your home making sure everything is locked up tight.

Put Hidden Keys Inside: Thieves know where people hide keys so if you keep a key under the mat or in a fake rock, take it inside while you are gone. Give a key to a trusted neighbor so if there is a problem with your home, someone will be able to get into your house.

Secure Valuables: If you have valuable jewelry or collectibles, consider putting them in a safe deposit box at your bank or at least in a safe in your home. You may also want to ask a trusted friend or family member to keep them for you while you are gone. This will help keep them secure and prevent a thief getting your prized possessions. 

Unplug Small Appliances: You have no idea what the weather at home will be while you are gone so it is always best to unplug small appliances and other electrical items to prevent surges and possible fire risk. There would be nothing worse than coming home to a house that has burned to the ground due to an electrical malfunction. 

Turn Down Your HVAC: Heating or cooling your home to the same temperature as when you are home is a waste of energy so turn down (or up) your HVAC while you are gone. While you should definitely adjust the temp, never turn it off completely as this puts your pipes at risk if the temperatures plummet.

Lawn Care: If you are going to be gone for a significant amount of time, arrange for lawn care. An uncut lawn is a sign to thieves that you are not home so find a trusted neighbor to help keep your lawn looking good. 

Lock Up the Garage: Finally, make sure the garage door closes and all doors that access the garage or your home from the garage are locked up tight. 

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