Whether you’re planning an exciting trip to a theme park or a road trip through Europe, your home’s security should be your first consideration. It doesn’t matter where you’ll be traveling, the fact is that your home will be sitting empty while you’re gone. If you don’t want your home and its possessions to fall victim to thieves or damage while you’re away, there are steps you should take to protect what’s yours. Here are five things to do before you lock up the house and head off on your adventure:
1.Install a Security System
If you haven’t done so already, installing a home security system like one from FrontPoint can protect your home from disaster and intrusion. A security system can provide piece of mind while you are on vacation, knowing that your home is being monitored by a company that can alert safety forces in your absence. In addition to the peace of mind of knowing your home will be alarmed in case of burglary, you can also rest assured that if there is a flood or fire that emergency crews will be called immediately as opposed to relying on a neighbor or finding out of damage upon returning home. If you travel regularly, step up your security system to one that can enable you to peek in on your home from your computer from anywhere that has internet access. If you aren’t sure what type of security system you need, have a security audit conducted on your home by a professional.
2.Leave a Set of Keys
Leave a set of your keys and a general itinerary with a friend, family member or neighbor. Make sure that this person won’t be otherwise occupied while you are away. Ask that they stop regularly to check on the house, collect your mail and water any plants, and give the appearance of someone being there. Make sure that your friend stops by at different times of the day and is doing such things as opening and closing window coverings at the right times of the day. If this person has a second or third vehicle, you may want to see if they would mind parking it in your driveway while you’re gone. A car parked at your house will make it look like someone is home around the clock.
3.Turn off the Heat
Unless you have pets that are staying home who need to live in a temperature controlled environment, make sure that you turn off your furnace in the winter and your cooling system in the summer. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat already installed in your house, think about putting one in before you leave. Programmable thermostats typically have an idle setting that can be convenient for people who are vacationing.
4.Stop the Newspaper
Nothing screams “vacant house” like newspapers piling up in the driveway or on the stoop. If you’re going to be gone for more than a couple of days, contact your newspaper’s office and have delivery halted during your vacation. If you find it too inconvenient to have your delivery stopped while you’re away, ask a trusted neighbor if they would mind collecting your newspaper for you while you’re on your holiday. Likewise, if you are going to be gone for two weeks or more and don’t have anyone to collect your mail, ask the post office to hold it for you.
Leaving your lights on while you’re gone can be expensive. Not only that, but anyone watching your house will quickly figure out that the lights are never turning off. Instead of leaving all of your lights on and racking up your utility bill, or leaving them off and making your home vulnerable, buy a few timers for the interior of your home and at least one for the exterior. Set your lights to turn on and off as they would if you were home.
Nothing can bring you back down to earth after a vacation like returning home and finding that you’ve been the victim of a crime or that there has been a flood or fire in your home. If you use common sense and follow the tips above, you can rest assured that when you return from your vacation, your home will be standing just as you left it and your possessions will still be tucked safely inside.
Amie Gottschalk is an avid tech blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.