After a relaxing vacation, coming home to missing valuables, a water-damaged house or vandalized property is an abrupt wake-up call. Worse, your vacation is cut short because your home was not well-protected against damage from thieves or natural disasters.
These tips will help you manage your home security while on vacation, or protect your vacation home while you’re away.
1. Lock Doors and Windows
Lock each one of your home’s doors and windows before leaving for a vacation. This sounds simple, but it is easy to leave a door cracked or window open without realizing it. You should also bring any hidden spare keys indoors, but not before ensuring a friend or family member has a spare key to your home. Open doors and hidden keys invite thieves into your home.
Both manual and automatic garage doors can be opened by strangers with the right know-how. Keep your garage’s contents safe with a deadbolt manually locked from the inside. This is especially important if your garage leads into your home.
2. Make the Exterior Look Cared For
Passersby will realize you’re not home if your mailbox is overflowing or inches of snow aren’t removed from your driveway and sidewalk. Make sure the exterior of your house looks cared for while you’re away by asking a neighbor or friend to move any packages that arrive while you’re on vacation off your porch. They can also get the mail out of your box every day. Or, let the post office know what dates you’ll be away and have your mail held.
For larger maintenance tasks, such as mowing the lawn or removing snow, hire a professional. You can either maintain the same service you employ throughout the rest of the year or contract someone specifically for the dates of your vacation. This could be as simple as asking a high school or college student to mow or shovel, especially if you’ll be away during a school break.
If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, have a friend or neighbor occasionally park a car in your driveway. This is just one more way to discourage vandals or thieves from attempting to damage your home while you’re on vacation.
Install motion-activated lights near entrances to ward off anyone who does attempt to approach a door or window. A light that turns on when a person walks down the driveway is also a smart idea.
3. Move Valuables Out of Sight
Make it difficult to see any items of value from the street and even your yard. If would-be thieves believe there isn’t anything valuable in your home, they won’t bother to break in. Any smaller valuables, including money and jewelry, should be temporarily relocated to your home’s safe.
4. Make Your House Look Lived In
Just as the outside of your home needs to look cared for, the interior should show signs of occupancy as well. Add a timer to a few lights throughout your home, as well as any other electronics you regularly use, such as a stereo.
It’s important not to negate the effort you put into securing your home while on vacation with a public social media post. Avoid mentioning the specific dates you’ll be away or stating that the “whole family” is with you online. If timers and social media limits are too much, consider hiring a house sitter.
6. Prepare for Natural Disasters
While protecting your home while on vacation often means focusing on home security, you should also prepare for threats that aren’t manmade. Unplug any electronics that aren’t needed, such as the toaster, coffee pot and TV, to hedge against power surges. These could damage your electronics or even cause a fire.
Plumbing may not be one of your major concerns when preparing for vacation. However, the only force that damages more homes per year than frozen pipes is that of hurricanes. Simply turning off your water can limit the damage done by a burst pipe.
Lastly, double check that all backup generator maintenance is up to date and that your generator will turn on if your main source of power is lost. It’s also essential that your generator will turn off when it is no longer needed. Having a working, fueled generator ensures your sump pump, refrigerator and other essential appliances will continue to operate in a power outage.