Preparing for a holiday is always exciting, and sometimes, in the excitement, the preparation for the journey takes precedence over the more important task of securing the home. While away, it is imperative that you ensure that your home will remain safe from burglary and any other untoward incidents, so you do not have to worry about it and spend the time enjoying your trip.
An empty house is a prime target for thieves. It is a cause for worry and you might think twice about going on a vacation because you fear that something untoward might happen while you are away. Bear in mind that even if you are at home, you could be victimised by burglars. Don’t let this deter your from enjoying your dream vacation as there are several safety measures that you can take to ensure that your house will be safe while you are travelling. So after you have packed your bags and all your travel essentials, let us take a look as some of the precautionary measures you can take to ensure that your home will be safe while you are away.
1. Ensure that all doors and windows are properly closed and locked. This should be done a few weeks before you go on vacation so you can have things fixed. Make sure that deadbolts are still firmly installed and slide into place easily. Check the security bar on sliding doors and make sure that the window locks are not easy to pry open. A checklist is important so you do not forget anything. Check the locks on your gates and garage door. Do not leave a spare key anywhere around your house. If you want to have a spare key handy, make sure to leave it with a trusted friend or a relative. Remove things such as ladders and furniture that could be used by thieves to break into your house.
2. If you are leaving at an ungodly hour, do not advertise that you will be going away by putting your luggage in your car the night before. It is a prime clue that you will be leaving the house. Have all your suitcases and bags in the hallway near your front door the night before your departure so it will be easy for you to stow them in your car even if it is very early in the morning. It would be good if you can have someone drive you to the airport, so your car could be brought back to the house. Arrange for a trusted person to move your car once in a while so it seems like it is being used by the home owners. Entrust a key to your gate and garage to this person and inform neighbors closest to you, so they know that the person using your car is not a thief.
3. If you regularly receive mail, inform the post office so your mail will not be delivered until you are back home. Do this ahead of time. If you do not have a secure mailbox, arrange for a trusted friend or family member to pick up your mail. Arrange for someone to visit your house at least once a day. You can also arrange with the person checking your home to schedule the turning on and off of lights at different times of the day, check taps for leaks, and do other daily activities that make it look like the house is not empty.
4. And speaking of empty, it is imperative that there are no signs that the house is in fact without its owners at the moment. Your daily routines should also be observed. Leave curtains partially open if that is your habit, but ensure that valuables could not be seen by prying eyes through the partially open curtains. Ask whoever you have trusted to check your house while you are away to observe your daily routine.
5. Some people get too excited about going overseas for a vacation that they want to let other people know of their plans. Share your excitement with close family members but not your friends on social networking sites. Leave a copy of your itinerary with your closest friend or relative as well as your contact information in case of emergencies.
6. Likewise, even if you are too excited and want to share everything you have seen, it is best not to post statuses and travel photos in social networking sites where everybody can see where you are. Send postcards if you must but wait until you get back home to share all the awesome photographs that you took. Even your travel plans should be shared only with those people that your trust. The Internet is a scary thing when a little bit of personal information is leaked out. Never leave voicemail or a message on your answering machine that indicates that you are away on vacation.
7. Valuables should be documented. Videotape those items that are precious and of high value and take pictures of everything as well. Make a list of all valuable items inside your home and make sure that important documents are kept inside safes or security boxes. If you do not have access to security boxes, consider leaving your valuables in the care of a very trusted relative or friend. Ensure that your insurance policies cover all your valuables, including those that you have recently bought.
8. There are some valuable items in the home that you simply cannot store is a security box or a safe. But you can still protect them by moving them into a location where they cannot be easily seen. Likewise, do not leave spare keys just laying around the house in plain sight as someone who manages to enter your house unauthorised could take away a lot of your belongings, including small yet expensive electronic devices.
9. Make your house safe from fire. Clean gutters of dry needles and leaves that can be fire hazards. Likewise, unplug all the unnecessary electrical items that do not need to be on standby when you leave your house. This will protect your home and your appliances from power surge or electrical fire and lower your electric bill as well.In the same manner, ensure that your house would not be flooded while you are away. Fix any leaks inside and outside your house and turn off all taps. If you are leaving your home in winter, ask your house-minder to run the water so the pipes would not burst during freezing temperatures.
10.If you have recently bought expensive items before you go on your vacation, ensure that you do not leave any evidence of them in your property. If there is no time to throw boxes away, consider storing them where they could not be seen. Otherwise, personally bring them to a collection site.
11. It is so obvious to leave all the lights on while you are away. Invest in motion detectors and automatic timers. Stagger the time that lights in different parts of the house switch on and off, so that it looks like there are people at home. You can even hook up your radio or your television to automatic timers so they turn on and off at selected hours. Try the smart and techy products of WEMO that allow you to program the automatic turning on and off of your devices and lights wherever you are. They have Wi-Fi-enabled WEMO Smart LED Bulbs, WEMO Switch and WEMO Light Switch as well as an iPhone and Android app. If you can afford it, partner the WEMO smart products with a NetCam HD+. This gadget streams video from your house directly to your smartphone in real time.
12. If you are going to be gone for longer than a week, consider hiring a trusted house sitter. If your house is being scoped, a person seen coming and going to your house will deter a thief. You can either have a friend do this for you or get a referral for someone who does this for a living. Make sure that you have a contract and that you inform the professional house sitter about the alarm systems in your home, the schedule of trash collection, street cleaners, mail arrival and the automatic turning on and off of your sprinklers if you have a yard. Be sure to tell your closest neighbor that you will be gone for a while and that a friend or a house sitter will be coming over so that they do not call the police when they see a stranger entering your house.
14. If you are renting and your house does not have an alarm, there are wireless alarms that you can attach to doors and windows. They sound a loud and shrill alarm once a door or window is opened.
Just like how carefully you planned your dream vacation, take the time to plan on how to make your home secure while you are away. These tips are some of the most highly recommended ones from realtors, home security consultants and people who have gone on several trips themselves.