Vacationing families offer the perfect opportunity to someone looking for an “easy” score. But, with the right prep work and some additional planning, you can increase your home security while on vacation. Use our security checklist to make sure you cover all of your bases.
How to prepare for home security while on vacation
First things first. Before you can set off on your getaway, you need to do a few things to prepare for home security while on vacation. The trick here is to reduce the chances of making your home seem like an easy target. Don’t lay out the welcome mat for an intruder. You want things to seem like business as usual. In essence, you don’t want any person walking by to know that no one is home. Make sure you do these things before you head out:
- Keep your plans off of social media: With the prevalence of social media comes a painless way for burglars to confirm that a house is empty. Despite the repeated warnings by law enforcement to keep vacations off of popular social sites, travelers still feel the need to document the tiniest details for anyone to see. And this extends to just about anyone. Celebrity Hilary Duff was recently the victim of a home invasion and it seems that the intruders used social media to confirm her absence.
- Arrange for someone to take out your trash and fetch the trash can afterwards: When looking for a target, burglars look for any indication that a house is empty: packages on the front porch, or an overflowing mailbox. Similarly, being the only house on a street with the trash can in front makes you stick out like a sore thumb. Remember, the key to home security while on vacation is business as usual. Have a neighbor take out your trash and bring in your trash can.
- Schedule a lawn mowing: Another way to blend in is to keep your grass trimmed. Have a nice neighbor come by or pay a service to keep your lawn mowed. An overgrown lawn sends the message that no one is there to care for it.
- Don’t allow packages to pile up or leave mail unclaimed: Arrange to have your mail and deliveries delayed while you are gone. If this isn’t possible, enlist a friend or neighbor to pick them up and bring them in while you’re gone.
- Ask a neighbor to keep watch to increase your home security while on vacation: Keeping an eye on your home doesn’t require a pair of binoculars or hours spent standing guard at the window. Simply informing your neighbors that you are gone and asking them to be aware can go a long way toward your home security while on vacation.
Remember, you want business as usual.
Home security checklist
Leaving your home to fend for itself for a week can cause a little anxiety. Don’t put yourself in a situation where your long days on the beach are filled with worries of “did I lock the front door?” If you plan to be away, take a little extra time to prep your house with the appropriate vacation home security measures. Make sure to do the following before you leave:
- Arm your security system and distribute codes appropriately: You home security system exists for exactly this circumstance. Make sure that you arm your system and give codes to anyone coming to mind your pets or perform errands for you while you are away. Also, don’t forget to alert your monitoring company that you will be away so that they are fully prepared to assist you with home security while on vacation.
- Lock and secure all windows, paying close attention to the ones on the first floor: The first floor is most often used to gain entry into a home. Check for any malfunctioning locks and fix any problem areas prior to leaving.
- Properly close and secure any pet doors: Believe it or not, a pet door can be a point of access to a potential intruder looking for access into your home. Make sure pet doors are properly secured before leaving.
- Before leaving, make sure all deadbolts are locked and safety chains are in place: This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to overlook when you’re focused on getting to the airport in time for your flight.
- Secure sliding glass doors with a stick: You want to make it very difficult for an intruder to find a vulnerability. Placing a stick in the track of sliding glass doors is a low-cost, no-fuss way to accomplish this task.
- Position a camera at your major points of entry: If you know that you will be gone, a camera can be a powerful asset. Place cameras near your major points of entry to keep track of who is coming and going.
- Bolt your garage door: Garage doors have a manual bolt that you can engage from the inside. This ensures that it cannot be opened from the outside in your absence.
- Stow away valuables in a safe place: This is a good rule to follow any time you are not home, but it should definitely be observed to increase home security while on vacation.
- Keep high-priced electronics out of plain sight and hidden as best as possible: Many opportunistic intruders look for high-priced items that can be quickly nabbed. Keeping these items out of plain sight makes it more difficult for criminals to know what you have that is available for the taking.
- Store any guns and medications in a safe place: Guns and medications are desirable items for burglars. Keeping them safely stowed is one more way to improve your home security while on vacation.
- Program timers for lights to come on at normal times: If you choose to set light timers to make it seem like someone is home, remember to choose times that it would be normal to have bright lights. If your house is lit up at 3 AM, that might also be enough to draw attention. Remember, the goal for home security while on vacation is business as usual.
Additional vacation prep tips
You can take measures to prepare your home from a security standpoint, but there are also things you can do to reduce the danger from hazards like fire or plumbing disasters. Try out these tips:
- Close all blinds and curtains: Make it tough for others to see what’s going on inside. More specifically, potential intruders can’t tell that no one is home.
- Turn off your water: Plumbing leaks can happen at any time and can cause significant damage if not dealt with immediately. No one wants to end a vacation on a sour note with a flooded kitchen or basement.
- Check smoke detectors to make sure they are functioning properly: Do a little test to make sure your smoke detectors are functioning. It’s a good precaution to have in place while you are traveling.
- Park vehicles in the garage: Vehicles are often easy targets for someone looking to make quick grab and a fast getaway. Park them in the garage to help protect your cars and belongings.
- Program your thermostat: Make your home as green as possible by programming your thermostat before you leave.
- Unplug electronics: Remove electrical plugs from the wall to avoid any electrical hazards.
- Empty trash cans: This is really to save your nose from offensive smells when you return.
- Make plans for your pets: Make arrangements to have your pets cared for or let out and fed while you are gone.
- Leave contact information with a neighbor for emergencies: It seems like a given, but make sure your neighbors have a contact number in case something does go awry. You’ll want to know immediately.
Following our home security tips for your vacation makes it far easier to relax and truly enjoy your time away. Now…time for some R&R.