Vacation Safety: Protect Your Home While You’re Away

Jennifer Coloma, July 7, 2016

With the start of the summer comes the start of traveling season. Traveling around the world can be a simultaneously exciting and worrying experience. What about your home? How do you keep it safe without doing something costly like installing a solar-powered alarm system or live-streaming cameras? At Howard Hanna Insurance Services, we’ve done some sleuthing to uncover tips on how to ensure that your home remains safe in a cost-effective way while you enjoy traveling.

Protecting your home from potential unwanted attention, such as burglary, can be broken down into three simple steps: limiting your home’s vulnerability, maintaining the impression that you are still home, and refraining from announcing to the world that you will be away from home.

Limit Your Home’s Vulnerability

  1. Spare Keys: Thinking of leaving a spare key under the rug so your neighbor can get in to water the plants? Instead, just give your neighbor the spare key. Under the rug, in the pots, or on top of the doorframe – these are all places that a burglar will look first for a spare key and an easy way to get into your house. By removing this spare key, you’re taking a major step towards protecting your home.
  2. Lock the Windows and Doors: In the chaos of those last few minutes where everything must be packed and everyone ushered out of the house, it’s easy to forget the simple things. Make sure all your windows and doors are firmly closed, sealed, and locked. This includes the door to the yard, the door to the deck, the door to the garage, and especially the garage door to the outside world. In the case of sliding glass doors and windows, put a stick in the groove where the door or window would normally slide to ensure it remains shut, even if the lock is picked.
  3. Close the Curtains: By closing the curtains, you limit a stranger’s ability to see inside your home and determine what valuables may be available to steal. You also make it difficult for a potential burglar to determine whether or not you’re home.

Maintain the Impression That You Are Still Home

  1. Mail and Packages: If you’re expecting large packages to arrive while you’re away, call your local delivery system and ask whether they can hold onto the packages until you return. If they can’t, ask a neighbor, friend, or family member if they can pick up the packages and hold onto them until you’re back. Having packages, mail, and newspapers stack up in your yard is a clear and obvious sign that you’re away. For mail, call your post office and ask them to hold onto all of your mail while you’re on vacation.
  2. House Sitter: In a typical week, what do you usually do? Check your mail, mow the grass, weed the garden, pick your fruits and vegetables, water the plants, take out the garbage, walk your dog, turn your lights on and off, and more? A creative way to deter burglars is to make it seem as though your weekly routine is still going on. One way to do this is to ask a neighbor, friend, or hire a trusted teenager to come by each day and check your mail, water your plants, turn the lights on and off, etc. You can take it a step further by asking them to come watch television, listen to music, or open and close the curtains for a few hours. If you have a pet, hiring a pet-sitter to stay at your house will achieve the same result—and keep your pet relaxed in a familiar environment!

Refrain From Announcing to the World That You Will Be Away From Home

  1. Social Media: While it may be tempting to share every intimate moment of traveling, from the moment you board that flight to the moment you touch down in another state or country, this is the fastest and easiest way to alert potential robbers of your home’s vulnerability. The easiest way to protect your home is to just not share that you are traveling on social media. A less-effective alternative would be to keep your trip vague. Don’t share the exact date you’ll be home. Share a picture of your pets or plants or another part of your house while you’re on vacation to make it seem like you’re back at home, and don’t explicitly state the date of your return.
  2. Turn Off Public Settings: If you really want to share all the details of your trip, share them only with close friends and family, not the entire world, by using the group setting or by completely turning off your public visibility while you’re away.

With a few simple tips and tricks, some creativity, and a bit of ingenuity, you can enjoy traveling around the world while still protecting your home. We hope this guide helps give you peace of mind while you’re traveling, and that you have safe travels!

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