How to Keep Your Home Safe and Secure on Summer Vacation

House with owners away on vacation

There’s nothing that can ruin a vacation more than the constant thought of something bad happening to your home. In addition to mishaps, break-ins are an ever-present concern. Studies have shown that a majority of residential burglaries occur during the summer months of July and August when homeowners are most likely to travel. Taking preventive measures to protect your home while you’re away offers peace of mind and allows you to relax and enjoy your vacation. Below are few tips to help you protect your home during the summer months and year round.

Make It Look Like Someone Is Home

Keeping things normal can be the best defense against burglary. Don’t give criminals reasons to suspect that you’re on vacation. Enlist a neighbor or trusted friend to oversee tasks such as mowing the lawn, taking out and returning the garbage pails, picking up packages, and keeping the property clean. If you’re leaving your vehicle behind, park it in its usual spot.

Remember to also give your contact information to your neighbor or whoever will be helping out. This way, they can call you if there’s an emergency, let a contractor in if needed, or contact the local authorities if necessary.

Lighting and Blinds

Leaving the lights or having the home always be dark indicates that no one is home. Whenever you leave on vacation, consider installing timer switches to turn on and off the lights at intervals. Modern smart lighting system, such as Philips Hue can also be programmed to make your house looked lived in and can be controlled from your mobile phone in case you forgot to activate the timer program or you want to make a change.

Serena Motorized Shades with Caseta by Lutron

In addition to operating lighting, Caseta by Lutron can also be programmed to raise and lower Serena window shades. If you don’t have automated window coverings, it is recommended that you leave your curtains in their normal position but do consider removing computers and valuables out of view if they would be visible through the window.

Secure Your Windows

Before you leave, check that all your windows and door are locked. Windows that are invisible from the road or are obstructed by trees and hedges can give burglars cover to break into your home and leave without being detected. This is especially true if you live on the ground or first floor of an apartment. You may consider trimming the foliage so your windows are not hidden from view.

Unplug Unused Appliances and Devices

Nest Protect Smoke Detector

To protect against fire due to power surges, ensure that all unused appliances such as lamps, TVs, toasters and coffee pots are turned off before your departure. Also, make sure that your smoke detectors are working properly, consider installing a smart smoke detector like Nest Protect or so that you can receive alerts if the smoke alarm goes off.

Use Social Media with Caution

If you can, refrain from sharing your vacation pictures on social media while you’re away. While it is tempting to want to share the news of your vacation with friends and family on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, you don’t know who else is following the conversation.

Sharing your location while on vacation can potentially expose your home to risk. It is advisable to wait until you return home before sharing photos and other information related to your vacation on social media. That will allow you to carefully vet those pictures before you share them online, and to protect yourself and your property from those who may be emboldened by knowing you are not at home.

Stop Your Mail

Packages piling up on doorstep

If you are going to be on vacation for an extended period and do not want to inconvenience your neighbor to pick up your mail each day, ask the post office to put your mail on hold. You also want to stop ecommerce orders and subscriptions prior to your trip so packages won’t show up while you’re away. Whatever you do though, don’t let your mailbox overflow or allow newspapers, magazines, and packages to clutter your doorstep. If they do, it signals that no one is home.

Use Strong Locks

One of the most critical steps in preventing burglary is to ensure that your doors have strong, reliable locks. Prior to your departure, make sure that all windows, doors and other entrances are properly locked and secured with industry-standard locks. Deadbolts have shown to be reliable. If you have one, remember to use it.

August Lock Smartphone App

Smart locks, such as those form August, are also a great way to allow a neighbor or a repair person to enter your house for an unexpected event. Further, you can monitor who is coming and going, which is especially useful if you have a regular cleaning service, need your plants watered, or your fish fed. And if you have a panicked moment that you forgot to lock the door, just open the app on your smart phone and press to lock it.

Install A Security System

A good security system can help you stay connected to your property while you’re away. Make sure you arm the system before you leave. Don’t expect that a security company’s sticker alone will deter burglars or keep criminals away.

Ring Stickup Cam with Solar Charger

Combining a security system with surveillance cameras will allow you to see what’s going on at and around your home. If this is cost prohibitive, consider either a lower cost DIY security systems or a smart doorbell with some additional stickup cams to monitor your home. Both professionally monitored and DIY security systems can notify you via your mobile phone when movement is detected, such as an unplanned package being delivered to your doorstep.

Get a House Sitter

Passing care of house to a sitter

Of course, the best way to truly make your house looked lived in is to have someone living there. Consider enlisting a house sitter or caretaker to reside in your home during your vacation. This way you know your mail is being brought in, your plants are being watered, and someone is there in just in case something goes wrong, such as a leaky roof or broken window.

Before You Head Out

Remember, your security system won’t work if you don’t arm it, lights won’t turn on and off if you don’t program them, and deadbolts and window latches won’t keep your house secure if you don’t lock them. Since this is a lot to remember, consider creating a checklist and stepping through it just before you leave. Here’s a starter list:

  1. All windows locked
  2. Window blinds set to proper location
  3. Valuables put away and out of site from windows
  4. Lights (and or blinds) programmed and working
  5. Video cameras working
  6. Thermostat set to away mode
  7. All faucets turned off
  8. Appliances such as toasters unplugged
  9. All doors locked and deadbolts engaged
  10. Mail and packages on hold
  11. Neighbor checking on house, picking up mail, and taking garbage in and out
  12. Neighbor has my contact information if needed

Relax and happy vacationing!

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House with owners away on vacation

There’s nothing that can ruin a vacation more than the constant thought of something bad happening to your home. In addition to mishaps, break-ins are an ever-present concern. Studies have shown that a majority of residential burglaries occur during the summer months of July and August when homeowners are most likely to travel. Taking preventive measures to protect your home while you’re away offers peace of mind and allows you to relax and enjoy your vacation. Below are few tips to help you protect your home during the summer months and year round.

Make It Look Like Someone Is Home

Keeping things normal can be the best defense against burglary. Don’t give criminals reasons to suspect that you’re on vacation. Enlist a neighbor or trusted friend to oversee tasks such as mowing the lawn, taking out and returning the garbage pails, picking up packages, and keeping the property clean. If you’re leaving your vehicle behind, park it in its usual spot.

Remember to also give your contact information to your neighbor or whoever will be helping out. This way, they can call you if there’s an emergency, let a contractor in if needed, or contact the local authorities if necessary.

Lighting and Blinds

Leaving the lights or having the home always be dark indicates that no one is home. Whenever you leave on vacation, consider installing timer switches to turn on and off the lights at intervals. Modern smart lighting system, such as Philips Hue can also be programmed to make your house looked lived in and can be controlled from your mobile phone in case you forgot to activate the timer program or you want to make a change.

Serena Motorized Shades with Caseta by Lutron

In addition to operating lighting, Caseta by Lutron can also be programmed to raise and lower Serena window shades. If you don’t have automated window coverings, it is recommended that you leave your curtains in their normal position but do consider removing computers and valuables out of view if they would be visible through the window.

Secure Your Windows

Before you leave, check that all your windows and door are locked. Windows that are invisible from the road or are obstructed by trees and hedges can give burglars cover to break into your home and leave without being detected. This is especially true if you live on the ground or first floor of an apartment. You may consider trimming the foliage so your windows are not hidden from view.

Unplug Unused Appliances and Devices

Nest Protect Smoke Detector

To protect against fire due to power surges, ensure that all unused appliances such as lamps, TVs, toasters and coffee pots are turned off before your departure. Also, make sure that your smoke detectors are working properly, consider installing a smart smoke detector like Nest Protect or so that you can receive alerts if the smoke alarm goes off.

Use Social Media with Caution

If you can, refrain from sharing your vacation pictures on social media while you’re away. While it is tempting to want to share the news of your vacation with friends and family on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, you don’t know who else is following the conversation.

Sharing your location while on vacation can potentially expose your home to risk. It is advisable to wait until you return home before sharing photos and other information related to your vacation on social media. That will allow you to carefully vet those pictures before you share them online, and to protect yourself and your property from those who may be emboldened by knowing you are not at home.

Stop Your Mail

Packages piling up on doorstep

If you are going to be on vacation for an extended period and do not want to inconvenience your neighbor to pick up your mail each day, ask the post office to put your mail on hold. You also want to stop ecommerce orders and subscriptions prior to your trip so packages won’t show up while you’re away. Whatever you do though, don’t let your mailbox overflow or allow newspapers, magazines, and packages to clutter your doorstep. If they do, it signals that no one is home.

Use Strong Locks

One of the most critical steps in preventing burglary is to ensure that your doors have strong, reliable locks. Prior to your departure, make sure that all windows, doors and other entrances are properly locked and secured with industry-standard locks. Deadbolts have shown to be reliable. If you have one, remember to use it.

August Lock Smartphone App

Smart locks, such as those form August, are also a great way to allow a neighbor or a repair person to enter your house for an unexpected event. Further, you can monitor who is coming and going, which is especially useful if you have a regular cleaning service, need your plants watered, or your fish fed. And if you have a panicked moment that you forgot to lock the door, just open the app on your smart phone and press to lock it.

Install A Security System

A good security system can help you stay connected to your property while you’re away. Make sure you arm the system before you leave. Don’t expect that a security company’s sticker alone will deter burglars or keep criminals away.

Ring Stickup Cam with Solar Charger

Combining a security system with surveillance cameras will allow you to see what’s going on at and around your home. If this is cost prohibitive, consider either a lower cost DIY security systems or a smart doorbell with some additional stickup cams to monitor your home. Both professionally monitored and DIY security systems can notify you via your mobile phone when movement is detected, such as an unplanned package being delivered to your doorstep.

Get a House Sitter

Passing care of house to a sitter

Of course, the best way to truly make your house looked lived in is to have someone living there. Consider enlisting a house sitter or caretaker to reside in your home during your vacation. This way you know your mail is being brought in, your plants are being watered, and someone is there in just in case something goes wrong, such as a leaky roof or broken window.

Before You Head Out

Remember, your security system won’t work if you don’t arm it, lights won’t turn on and off if you don’t program them, and deadbolts and window latches won’t keep your house secure if you don’t lock them. Since this is a lot to remember, consider creating a checklist and stepping through it just before you leave. Here’s a starter list:

  1. All windows locked
  2. Window blinds set to proper location
  3. Valuables put away and out of site from windows
  4. Lights (and or blinds) programmed and working
  5. Video cameras working
  6. Thermostat set to away mode
  7. All faucets turned off
  8. Appliances such as toasters unplugged
  9. All doors locked and deadbolts engaged
  10. Mail and packages on hold
  11. Neighbor checking on house, picking up mail, and taking garbage in and out
  12. Neighbor has my contact information if needed

Relax and happy vacationing!

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