How to Protect Your Home While You’re away on Vacationing

Most home break-ins are crimes of opportunity. Burglars watch residences waiting to spot a weakness they can exploit, such as the owners going away on holiday. The good news is that there are ways of protecting your home while there’s no one living in it.

Basic preventative measures (which take only minutes to complete) can work wonders to help you keep your home safe from power surges, broken pipes, home invasions, and more while you’re away

Here are 8 tips for keeping your home safe so you can relax and enjoy your holiday without worries:

  1. Don’t appear to be on vacation. 

Perhaps the smartest thing you can do to keep your home safe while you’re on vacation is to make it look like there are people living in the house.

  • If it’s summertime, hire someone to mow the lawn. An overgrown yard hints at an owner’s absence.
  • If it’s wintertime, hire someone to shovel any buildup of snow around your house. A driveway that hasn’t been cleared after a snowfall, and without tire tracks, is a sure indication no one is home.
  • Pipes are in danger of freezing during winter you have another compelling reason to leave a house key with a friend while you’re traveling. Ask your friend to stop by and check your faucets. If he or she turns on a faucet and only a few drops of water come out, your pipes may be frozen. Take other precautions like making sure your pipes are properly insulated and keeping your heat on while you’re away. Show your key-bearing companion the location of the water main shut-off in case a pipe breaks.

Don’t let the mail pile up. Either have the post office stop delivery, or have a neighbor collect your mail every day. It’s easy to put your mail on hold at CanadaPost.

There’s also the issue of interior lighting. Some homeowners leave lights on to suggest people are home, but a light that never turns off is almost as suspicious as lights never turning on. Instead, purchase a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule. Criminals keeping an eye on your house will notice lights flipping on and off, and will probably assume someone is doing the flipping. Canadian Tire offers a number of such products, including this one from Home Depot and this one from NOMA

Now, there are phone apps that allow you to turn lights on and off remotely, whenever you choose.

  1. Keep the outside lit. 

The lights outside your home can also make a world of difference when it comes to keeping your home safe. Thieves want to be as inconspicuous as possible, and if a target doesn’t offer a concealing environment, they may well move on. To that end, install lights to illuminate the house, particularly entryways. These can be powerful, motion-activated lights, or they can be smaller, solar-powered lights that switch on when it gets dark.

  1. Don’t Tip off Criminals on the Web. 

In a world where it seems everyone is blabbing about their business on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to stop and think: Who exactly is reading this stuff? Telling people when you’re going on vacation not only announces your house is vulnerable, but it even gives a specific timeline for that vulnerability.

Likewise, refrain from posting pictures and other vacation updates until you get home, as doing this makes it obvious that you’re away.

Be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail too. Callers don’t need to know that you’re not home—they just need to know that you can’t come to the phone right now.

  1. Strengthen the entryways. 

To say you should lock your doors to keep your home safe is obvious, but the gesture is only truly effective if the lock and door are sturdy. Ideally, entryway doors should be at least one inch thick and made of metal. Hardwood is suitable if metal is unavailable. It should include a high-end deadbolt lock, which is more secure than a doorknob latch.

And don’t forget patio doors. Their locks are often flimsy and offer little protection against a determined burglar. However, placing a sturdy dowel rod in the track will keep the door from sliding open.

If you normally keep a spare key hidden outside the home, bring it in before going on vacation.

That plastic rock isn’t fooling anyone.  So reach under the mat, into the mailbox, above the door frame, or into the flower pot and remove your spare key before you leave on your vacation.

  1. Store valuables in a sizeable safe in your home. 

Fireproof safes provide protection against numerous catastrophes, including break-ins. They’re a great place to put jewelry and other small valuables. Keep in mind that while there are portable fireproof safes, you’ll need one large enough to deter thieves from carrying it off and attempting to crack it later. If you don’t own a safe, it’s best to keep valuables out of sight, so someone peering in through a window can’t spot them. This is a good practice at all times, as thieves might be surveying your home even when you’re not on vacation—waiting for an opportunity.

  1. Invest in a security system with a control center and mobile patrol units. 

Having an alarm system linked to a first-rate control center can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your home safe from criminal acts. If your home alarm is triggered, the control center will be notified automatically, and can take appropriate action, which may entail sending a mobile patrol unit to the scene. Mobile patrollers from top security companies are trained to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies.

If that is not affordable then a simple way to gain peace of mind while traveling is to ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house while you’re away. Just ask him or her to drive by your home once every day or so and check on the place. Give this person a key so that he or she can bring your mail in, feed your cat, water your plants, rake your leaves, etc. If you don’t have a garage, you may also want to give this person a key to your car—you never know when your vehicle may need to be moved. He or she should also have your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of emergencies.

If you have more than one person visiting your house while you’re away, tell them about each other! This will prevent any confusion should they see someone else entering or leaving your home.

You may want to consider using Neighbourhood Watch a subscription service that allows anyone who notices anything amiss about your home to notify you, even if you haven’t asked them to keep an eye on things. This is a local police service.

  1. Curtains Closed – or Open? 

Before you leave for vacation, you may decide to close your curtains to prevent people from peering inside your home to see whether you’re there. However, closed curtains also stop those who aim to help—the police, your neighbors or friends—from seeing inside your house. So what’s your best bet? Leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you’re home, since noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around anymore—especially if your curtains are uncharacteristically left closed for two weeks. Move expensive items, like jewelry or computers, out of plain sight if they’re visible from the window.

  1. Pull the plug. 

Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven, and other appliances to protect them from power surges. This will help you save power as well; many appliances draw energy even when they’re turned off.

Nothing can guarantee the safety of your home or business while you’re away. However, a bit of planning can make properties a whole lot less attractive to burglars.

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