The Ten Best Ways to Protect
Your Home While On Vacation
This time of year finds millions of people heading off for well-deserved vacations. Of course, if you’re retired, your schedule is pretty much up to you. Regardless, I thought this might be a great time to pass along some valuable suggestions for protecting your home while you are away. As frequent travelers, my wife Trisha and I use checklists we’ve put together to make sure we don’t forget anything. While our memories are still pretty good, we find checklists very efficient and they give us peace of mind.
1. Silence Is Golden
In this era of social media, don’t advertise your departure on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other form of messaging. I suggest you only share your plans with trusted friends and neighbors. It’s sad to say, but there are plenty of thieves out there in cyber space looking for an easy score. If you trust the folks at your local Post Office and newspaper, stop those deliveries. If you don’t trust them, ask a neighbor to collect those items each day. I’ve added the last comment because as a teenager, my wife’s family cancelled everything prior to their summer vacation. Twice, when they returned home, their possessions had been stolen. The bottom line is, only inform those you trust with your travel plans. There is plenty of time to talk about your trip when you get home.
2. Turn Off Electronics
Thirteen percent of fires are caused by electronic malfunctions in the home. This means you need to make sure you have unplugged your electronics or turned off power strips for nonessential electronics such as coffee pots, amplifiers, electric blankets (a friend of mine forgot this one and nearly burned his house down), etc. This will also protect your electronics from power surges while you are away.
3. Make Your House Look Lived In
Well, maybe not that lived in, but thieves casing neighborhoods are looking for signs that folks are away from home. Some examples would be porch lights left on all day, old newspapers lying about, yards not mowed, blinds or curtains closed tight, etc. All of these tell a thief, “We’re not home, help yourself.” What does your home look like when you are living there? Is there a car in the driveway? Maybe you should leave one there and have a friend move it occasionally. Leave some blinds or curtains in a “lived-in” position. Of course, the ones in front of your new 100” 4D television or your rare Monet on the wall should probably be left closed. Have a friend mow your lawn while you’re gone. In other words, make your home look like you are still there. Believe it or not, some people have even left messages on their phones such as, “Hello, we will be out-of-town until the end of the month, have a nice day.” I’m sure someone will have a great day hearing that message.
4. Secure Doors and Windows
Once again, this may be overdoing it, but an important item on your checklist should be to secure all doors and windows. Hardware stores have very nifty (is that still a word?) little latches and gadgets for securing every type of door and window. In our case, we have a couple of doors that have glass panes making it very easy to break the glass and reach in to unlock the doors. For that reason, we have some very simple to install safety latches that make it impossible to open the door in such a manner. We use them every day, even while we are at home.
5. Inform Local Security
If you have a security alarm system, make sure your security company knows the dates of your travel plans. The same goes for local security patrols or police as they may have a policy of extra surveillance. If you do have a security company as we do, make sure you get one or two of their signs for the front of your house. We also have decals from our company that are placed on various windows around the house. A smart thief should know that if they break a window or open a door, our alarm is going off. By the way, it’s really loud.
6. Turn Off Automatic Garage Doors
For those of us with automatic garage door openers, we’ve all probably experienced coming home to a garage with the door wide open. Did we leave it open, or did someone else open it accidentally or on purpose? Before you leave, shut off the electronic door and padlock it from the inside.
7. Close or Block Pet Doors
If you forget this one, trust me, I won’t be breaking into your home. But there may be some skinny little thief out there that could get through your pet door and steal your stuff.
8. Rethink Your Hide-a-Key
Some would advise you not to leave a hidden key and suggest you leave it with a neighbor. I won’t say what I now do, but years ago I was glad I had a key hidden on my property. Here in California, the ground shifts a bit. While traveling we kept getting calls that our security alarm was going off. Both the security company and neighbors were not pleased, but no one could tell why the alarm was going off. The house was locked up like Fort Knox. I then realized that the alarms, and the calls to my cell phone were occurring at the same time each morning. How could that be? What happened at that time of the morning? All I could think of was my front yard sprinklers came on at that time. My neighbor checked and, sure enough, due to shifting ground a window at the front of our house had cracked. When the sprinklers came on, water hit the window, found the crack and ran down shorting out the alarm sensor. I told the neighbor where the hide-a-key was and he turned off my alarm system. If you leave a key, make sure it’s a super secure spot, if not, leave it with a neighbor. My wife came up with an even better idea than a hide-a-key. She bought one of those real estate locks (looks like a big padlock) that holds a key inside and attaches to a door. It has a combination we can share should someone need to get into our home while we are away.
9. Put Valuables in a Safe
For all you cyber thieves reading this blog, let me say up front, I don’t keep my valuables in my home. I don’t even have valuables, just the typical important papers we all must secure. Whatever your situation, anything of importance should be stored in a safe while you are away from home. Years ago we discovered that the big home stores have two sales on safes each year. We waited for the next sale and took advantage of a great saving. Our important papers are now in a constant state of security.
10. Best Security Measure
Every thief will tell you, should you get the chance to ask them, the number one best security measure for your home, regardless of your being at home or away, is communicating to thieves you have a dog. This is so simple. Place a nice little sign on your fence, gate, or doors that say something to the effect of: Beware of Dog. Reinforce that idea by placing a doggie bowl next to your back door. I suggest the bigger the better.
One more thing. As most of you know, my wife Trisha writes a terrific blog called Trisha’s Dishes where she shares some of her favorite recipes. Her most rectent blog is not to be missed. It’s titled Three Great Breakfast Recipes. Don’t miss these fantastic recipes, they have become favorites for our family and everyone else who has tried them.
Simple go to:
http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com and click on Trisha’s Dishes.