Summer is traditionally vacation time. While you busily pack suitcases, spare some thought about how to prepare your home for your travels. How can you safeguard your belongings while on holiday?
Fortunately, most vacations go off without a hitch. However, it’s not fun to return to a ransacked home, and insurance may not cover the full extent of the loss. It’s better to take proactive steps to prevent disaster.
Add the following items to your preflight checklist. Here are five thoughtful ways to prepare your home for travel.
1. Check Your Entryways
Did you know that most burglaries occur on weekdays during daylight hours when people are most likely to be away from home to attend work or school? What’s even scarier is that thieves often walk right in through your front door.
Here’s a likely scenario: you leave the door unlocked for your partner or teen who hasn’t yet left. However, they don’t typically do the locking up — and forget. You come home to find your television and computers missing.
Your best bet is a smart lock. Today’s versions let you check whether your door is locked from your smartphone. Additionally, many have keypads and fingerprint recognition to further enhance security. For example, if you plan to have a neighbor stop by to feed your cats while you’re away, you can set a temporary access code.
The garage is another frequent entry point because many people fail to lock it. Automatic garage doors eliminate the guesswork by using springs to maintain tension. If you don’t have such a model, look for multi-lock mechanisms you can apply before departure to secure this area. Furthermore, ensure you lock the door between the garage and the rest of your home.
Finally, remove your automatic garage door opener if you leave your vehicle at home. Mechanical locks won’t do anything if you park on the street and a press of a button admits a thief.
2. Secure Your Windows
Your windows are another ingress point. Steel security bars offer protection but can prevent you from fleeing in an emergency. Fortunately, there are better solutions, such as the following:
- One-way film: This stuff keeps prying eyes out during daytime hours but also adds a shatterproof layer to your windows, making them harder to break. Additionally, it protects your furnishings and floor from UV ray damage.
- Locks: Sliding glass doors are a bugbear. Secure them with a locking pin at the top inside corner where the doors come together and add a bar to further prevent criminals from lifting them off the track to gain entry. Add extra locks to windows, avoiding keyed versions to prevent trapping yourself in an emergency.
- Screech: Even if you can’t afford a full security system, inexpensive screechers you can find at dollar stores make criminals think you have one. It also draws neighbors’ attention.
- Trim: Breaking in a window looks suspicious. Criminals need cover to do their deeds, so trim your bushes back to lower than window height before departure.
3. Play Kevin McAllister
If you remember the “Home Alone” holiday classics, you’ll recall that Kevin McAllister warded off thieves by making his home appear occupied. You don’t have to go as far as attaching cardboard figurines to a train to make it seem like people are rocking around a nonexistent summer Christmas tree, but you should make your property look occupied.
Your mailbox is the first place many thieves look. Here’s where it pays to know your neighbors — you can request their assistance while you vacation. Ask them to keep an eye on your mailbox and remove items when they start to overflow. If you still subscribe to a paper, have them take it out of your driveway daily.
It also helps to study criminal behavior. Most thieves spend mere seconds deciding where to strike. Therefore, you might deter interest by leaving a television playing, especially a podcast that sounds like people are speaking inside. Many criminals immediately move on to the next home if they suspect someone’s house at the first one.
4. Light It Up
Although nighttime home invasions are rare, you won’t be there to defend your property if thieves strike after dark. Fortunately, you don’t need a security system to install inexpensive motion detector lights around all ingress points.
Where should you add them? Include the following spaces:
- All doors, including your garage door
- Along driveways and walkways: They also make it safer to navigate in the dark when carrying heavy groceries.
- Around basement and first-floor windows: Especially if one is an egress window.
Avoid unnecessary light pollution by facing such fixtures to point toward the earth. You’ll also avoid disrupting your neighbor’s sleep whenever a stray cat climbs over your fence.
5. Stay Off the Socials
You can’t wait to post your vacation pictures for friends and family far away to see. However, you should refrain until you get home. Why?
Over two-thirds of all burglars admit using social media to select which houses to strike. Your risk increases if you have public profiles and aren’t discriminating in who you friend or follow. Posting vacation photos while away tells thieves the party is on — head to your address.
Thoughtful Ways to Prepare Your Home for Travel
Summer is vacation season, but it’s also bonus time for thieves. Preparing your home before you travel is the best way to prevent coming home to disaster.
Follow these five thoughtful tips to prepare your home for travel this summer. You’ll enjoy your vacation with greater peace of mind and return rested and refreshed.
See some more of my travel posts here!