January 16th, 2015
By Jason Parr
Who doesn’t want a vacation right now? With the cold weather and long nights, a lot of us are thinking about warmer retreats or snow covered mountains. But before you hit the road, take a few precautions so your home isn’t enticing to thieves or susceptible to fire and other disasters. Having your home vandalized or burnt to the ground a highly unpleasant way to return from a trip. So, before you take off, consider implementing these safety tips to keep your home and community secure.
Call on friends for help. If you’re going to be away a week or more, ask a trusted friend to check on your house every day or two—or better yet, housesit—while you’re gone. Not only will they make sure nothing happens to your home, but you might also ask them to bring in your mail and newspapers, water plants or even feed Fluffy. Of course, it’s a good idea to let your neighbors know a friend is monitoring your property so they don’t call the police to thwart a perceived “break-in.”
Set your lights on a timer. Leaving your house unlit for days on end is a sure sign to burglars that it’s empty, but so is keeping the lights on 24-7. A good way to handle the lights on/off conundrum is to set them on a timer that’s scheduled to simulate your regular routine. Of course, if the lights seem a bit too simulated, that can be another telltale sign, so it’s a good idea to set the timers in individual rooms on staggered schedules to make the light coming from your home seem more natural.
Stop your mail and newspaper. Nothing screams “nobody’s home!” like a pile of newspapers strewn about your doorstep or an overflowing mailbox. So, if you can’t get a friend or neighbor to collect them for you, it’s best to have your mail and paper stopped if you’re going to be out of town for awhile.
Don’t leave the spare house key lying around. That fake rock where you keep the extra house key isn’t as discrete as you think. Whether you keep a spare under your welcome mat, above the door frame or in a hide-a-key contraption, chances are it will take the nefarious types five minutes flat to find it and gain easy entry to your house. So take it with you, let a friend hold onto it or put it in a safe place inside your house, even if you’re worried about losing your other keys. Because when it comes down to it, calling a locksmith is less traumatic than calling the police.
Make a last-minute checklist. Are all the windows and doors locked? Stove and oven turned off? How about all the faucets? Are the electronics unplugged and valuables secured? Take five minutes before you leave to ensure your house is vacation-ready. Another run-through of the house may seem unnecessary if you did it earlier in the day, but knowing you’ve left your house as safe as possible will help you kick back and have a great vacation.