Amongst all the excitement for an upcoming vacation, it’s easy to forget to double-check that your home is secure and protected. In fact, according to the Department of Justice, there are 14 percent more burglaries in the summer than in the winter across the U.S. The rate of household property victimization and household theft also peaks during the hottest months of the year, and happens to be when many of us pack our bags and head out for vacation.
While you’re out enjoying the summer weather in Fort Myers, FL, or near Vancouver, CA, you don’t want to worry about what’s happening at home. So to help put your mind at ease, here are 14 home security tips to help protect your home while on vacation.
Home security tip #1: Lock all windows and doors before you leave for vacation
Over 22 percent of burglars enter a home through an unlocked front door or first-floor window. Your first line of defense to protect your home from intruders is to make sure the windows and doors of your home are shut and locked properly. This can be done a few weeks before your vacation to give yourself time to hire a locksmith to replace or rekey your locks. Then double-check that your home is secure as you’re locking up to head out on holiday.
Home security tip #2: Install a home security system
Another way to protect your home is with a home security system. In addition to reducing the chance your home will be burglarized by 300 percent, many leading home security systems offer remote access and allow you to check up on your home right from your phone. You can even use your device to lock/unlock doors or check on pets in real-time via security cameras. Plus, your insurance provider may discount your home insurance premium up to 20 percent when you install a security system – and those savings could help pay for your vacation.
Home security tip #3: Advertise your home security
Security systems are a burglar’s worst enemy and can deter them from even attempting to break in. It’s important to post stickers or yard signs near your most obvious and accessible entry so burglars know your home is secured. For many intruders, they want to get in and out without trouble, and when they see an advertisement about your home’s security, they may think it’s more trouble than it’s worth and move on.
Home security tip #4: Avoid garage break-ins while you’re out of town
Many homeowners focus on the main body of their home and forget to secure the garage. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to help protect your home from a garage break-in. These include installing motion detector lights on the corners of the garage, ensuring the garage service door is locked, and hiding valuables out of sight. If you leave a car in the driveway, be sure to remove the garage door remote so a burglar won’t think twice about breaking into your car and using the remote to access your garage.
Home security tip #5: Use light timers while you’re away
One way to protect your home is with light timers. They’re affordable, easy to install, and can help deter criminals by making your home look occupied. Choose a timer with a “random on/off” option. If your lights are set up to turn on and off at various times throughout the day and night, it can make it difficult for burglars to determine if the home is vacant.
Home security tip #6: Install outdoor security lights
As burglars prowl the neighborhood, they scan for homes and areas that are dark and hidden. Consider installing motion-activated security lights around your house to improve home security. Not only will it startle the potential burglar, but will also light up the area and make them much more visible.
Home security tip #7: Remove “hidden” keys while you’re on vacation to be sure your home is secure
Over one-third of burglars enter a home through the front door, often using the homeowner’s “hidden” key. If there’s a key under your doormat or in another obvious location, remove it. You may also want to consider replacing your traditional front door lock with a keyless lock so you don’t even have to worry about keys.
Home security tip #8: Lock your valuables in a safe
Consider investing in a safe to keep your valuables secure from intruders. Make sure the safe is waterproof and fireproof so that your valuables are also protected in the event of a natural disaster. To further protect your valuables, hide your safe in a place that burglars are less likely to look.
Home security tip #9: Tidy up your yard before vacation
Prepare and protect your home for your departure by putting all your outdoor equipment – grills, bikes, and tools – in a secure shed or garage. Make sure to mow lawns and trim shrubs or trees so burglars can’t conceal themselves while trying to break into your home. If you have a gate that provides access to your yard, make sure it shuts and locks. Scan your property for anything a burglar might use to break into your home, like a brick or hammer, and take it inside or remove it from your property.
Home security tip #10: Arrange for lawn care
If you plan to be gone for a while, it may be a good idea to schedule lawn maintenance. Should your lawn look overgrown, it can be a telling sign to people that no one is there to do upkeep. If you don’t have a regular lawn service, consider calling your local lawn service or landscaping company to clean up your front yard once or twice while you’re away.
Home security tip #11: Tell your neighbors you’ll be out of town
Assuming you trust your neighbors, it’s a good idea to inform them you’ll be on vacation and leave a number where they can reach you. Make them aware of anyone who might be visiting your home while you’re away, such as a house sitter or dog walker. For extra protection, ask your neighborhood watch to be on the lookout for any unusual activity near your home.
Home security tip #12: Protect your home with a sitter
Enlist the services of a house sitter to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. This can make protecting your home much easier, especially for those who have pets at home. Ask a trusted friend if they can house sit in addition to caring for any pets you have. They can pick up fliers left at the door, bring in the mail, and take garbage and recycling bins to the curb. These everyday activities can help hide the fact you’re not home.
Home security tip #13: Place a hold on mail delivery
A sure sign that you’re out of town is an overflowing mailbox or a pile of mail on the front porch. Consider placing all mail and package deliveries on hold until you return. If you’re out of town for longer than 30 days, have a family member or friend pick up your mail for you. Should you be heading out for an extended vacation you may even want to consider having your mail forwarded to your vacation home.
Home security tip #14: Take safety precautions with utilities
Protecting your house from a break-in is important, but you also want to avoid problems with utilities, like electricity or water. Unplug appliances, turn off the water valves to all sinks, the dishwasher and washing machine, and test your smoke detectors. These precautions can help prevent any unexpected hazards like a house fire or flooding from a leaky pipe while you’re not home.