Many families travel throughout the year. With so many tasks to complete before your trip, it can be easy to forget about the important home security checks you should take care of before you leave.
Here are 10 tips for helping keep your home safer throughout your vacation.
1. Use multiple or random light timers, or better yet, use both.
If your living room light always switches on at 6 p.m. and always switches off at 11 p.m., it becomes obvious that nobody is home. Light timers are inexpensive, so consider purchasing several of them to turn lights on and off in different parts of the house at different times. You can also get random light timers, which turn lights on and off at random, making it harder to tell your home is empty.
2. Consider window alarms for first-floor windows.
Window alarms are fairly inexpensive and consist of two parts: one placed on the pane and the other placed on the sill. If the window is opened, the alarm makes a loud, piercing noise that can alert neighbors or scare off an intruder.
3. Expecting a package while you're gone? Check out delivery options for online shopping.
Some online retailers allow you to have orders delivered to a set pickup location, rather than leaving a package on your front porch where it's ripe for theft. Amazon offers a locker delivery service so you can retrieve your package at a store outfitted with Amazon lockers. In many cases, you also have the option of requiring a signature for delivery, and be sure to take advantage of the tracking number, if there is one, to determine when your package will arrive.
4. Have a boring answering machine message.
Don't leave a message indicating you're out of town or when you'll be back. A straightforward message stating you're unable to come to the phone is best. Burglars want as easy a heist as possible, so don't make things easy by giving out information on when you'll be out.
5. Be careful with social media.
It's not a good idea to post travel plans on social networking sites because you don't have 100% control over who sees the information.
6. Find out if your local police department offers home security checks.
Some local police departments offer home security checks for those who are on vacation. If your city police or county sheriff's office offers this service, you typically have to fill out a form with information on when you're gone, how to reach you and whether neighbors have access to your place while you're away.
7. Enlist in help from trusted neighbors.
A trusted neighbor can help you by collecting mail, newspapers and door handle flyers while you're gone. If they have an extra car, you might ask that they park it in your driveway periodically while you're away. If you get a fresh snowfall while you're gone, ask your neighbor to make some tire tracks in your driveway so that it's less obvious the house is unoccupied.
8. Never forget fire safety.
Do a walk through of your home before you leave to check all of your outlets before you leave. Is everything unplugged?
9. Check your home's smoke detectors.
You should test smoke alarms monthly; if it has been awhile, go ahead and do that now. If you have carbon monoxide detectors, test them too. Christmas is usually busy for households, and it's all too easy to forget about a candle left burning somewhere. Make it your New Year's Resolution to check smoke detectors consistently throughout the new year.