How to Secure Your Home When You Travel
Vacations can be a great way to relax, but they can also bring unexpected stress, particularly if you’re worried about the security of your home while you’re away. If you want to avoid this concern, you can take steps to secure your home before you leave — there are plenty of high-tech security options on the market. This can help give you peace of mind, and a few simple security steps can go a long way toward keeping your home safe.
Here is a closer look at the mix of high-tech and low-tech solutions that can keep you confident your home is secure while you are on your vacation.
Lock Your Doors and Windows
Locking your windows and doors is the simplest and most effective way to secure your home. Contrary to popular belief, many burglaries happen during the day, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. A significant number of thieves get in through the front door or an open window and take what they want in less than 10 minutes. Most robbers are opportunists and are looking for an easy target, so they’ll focus on the least secure homes.
Double and triple-checking your locks is important, but you shouldn’t let it end there. You should also ensure that your locks are effective. In addition to repairing damaged locks, you should re-key your doors if you recently lost a key.
Updated hardware is essential for securing your home. In this area, you can opt for solid components instead of high-tech ones. You can also consider replacing the doors themselves if they are thin, broken, or have a hollow core. These upgrades can add value to your home, as well.
Finally, you can place a dowel in the tracks for sliding doors or add an extra foot lock to add a second layer of security. On standard doors, an extra deadbolt can serve as a redundancy that may deter robbers who break the first lock.
Use Motion-Sensored Lighting
Motion-sensor lighting can deter thieves whether you are home or not. These lights turn on when they detect someone or something moving under the sensor. The sudden illumination will scare away some intruders and perhaps deter others who may worry a neighbor saw them or a security camera captured their image.
Motion-sensor fixtures are most common on the outside of a home. You can purchase and install new units or get adapters that add a motion sensor between the socket and bulb.
You may also want to consider interior motion sensor lights. These may be impractical when you are at home, but you can screw in adapters when you leave to add an extra deterrent layer to your security strategy.
Hide Your Key in a Non-Obvious, Yet Safe Place
While it helps to have a key near the house, hiding it in a conspicuous place makes it too easy for intruders. Such places include:
- Under the doormat;
- In the mailbox;
- Under a potted plant or flower pot;
- Under a paving stone near the door.
Instead, you can consider hiding the key in non-obvious and revolving spots, so it’s tough for anyone to figure out where you might have placed it on any particular occasion. Here are some examples of such discreet places:
- In the dog house;
- Under a loose brick a distance from the front door;
- Under the foot of a garden chair;
- In a fake rock that blends into its surroundings;
- In a magnetic key holder or key hider that is not near the door.
You can also give a spare key to a trusted neighbor. This step will provide you with a way to get in when you return. Furthermore, a neighbor offers a direct line of communication in case something goes wrong.
Keep Your Valuables Out of Sight
If an intruder gains access to your home, they are likely to pick any valuables within sight that are easy to grab. That’s why it’s important to put them away in protected or secret places.
One strategy is to hide valuables in places robbers won’t think to look. Packets of pasta, toy compartments, and cereal boxes are good examples because most burglars never think to look there. If you can afford it, you can have a wall safe installed.
If you do not need to store your car long-term, you can park it in the driveway to give the impression that there is someone home. This step may discourage opportunistic burglars from targeting your home. However, you need to remember to keep the vehicle locked.
On the other hand, you need to store a classic or luxury car in a safe place. You can lock it in a secured garage or keep it in a carport. There are car storage solutions utilizing strong materials like steel, which keep your vehicles and other items, such as sporting equipment, safe. If you have tools or work-related equipment, you take the same security measure for your workshop.
Unplug Electronics that Aren’t in Use
Keeping your home safe doesn’t only mean protecting it from intruders. Electrical flaws can easily start a fire that will do far more damage to your property than any robbery.
One way to prevent this type of disaster is to unplug all unnecessary electronics. These include the air-conditioner, water heater, and any non-fixture lights. Small appliances, washers and dryers, video game consoles, smartphone chargers, laptops, and other electronics with external power supplies should also be unplugged.
Inform Your Security Company
If you have an automated home security system, it’s a good idea to tell the security company when you’re traveling. That way, they’ll be on high alert for any suspicious activity.
This step only works if you make sure all the components of the system are in working order. You can take the opportunity to replace batteries and test the system before you leave.
Also, outward-facing cameras, security company signs or decals, and other visible features can act as a deterrent for would-be thieves looking for an easy target.
Put a Stop on Your Mail and Newspaper
A pile of newspapers on your doorstep is a clear sign to any passerby that there’s no one home. Mounds of uncollected mail or packages give the same type of signal.
There are two solutions to this issue. You can have a trusted neighbor pick up your packages and papers, or you can contact the post office and delivery service to have them hold onto everything while you are gone. Most newspaper companies allow you to hold delivery via an online form, and you can call or visit your post office branch to have them stop mail service until you return.