Protect Your Home While You're Away

May 2019

Whether you’re traveling for a two-day business conference or a two-week vacation, you’re going to want to be sure your home is secure and safe from vandalism and break-ins while you are gone. Take the time to make sure your home and its contents remain safe while you're on vacation. Here are some important security do’s and don’ts that may be worth considering:

Don’t Broadcast Your Plans Through Social Media

  • Prior to the trip - don’t put anything on social media indicating you’ll be gone. If you can’t resist, don’t mention the exact dates you’ll be gone.
  • During the trip – don’t provide a running online commentary of their travel activities (and make sure your kids don’t either). It’s tempting to post your vacation photos in the moment, but your safest bet is to wait until after you return home. By sharing travel plans, you’re advertising that your house will be empty. You can never be completely sure who sees that information.
  • One additional piece of advice - keep your usual voicemail or answering machine message and make your personal or work email auto-reply message vague.

 

Secure the Home and Valuables

  • Check to make sure that all doors and windows are locked, even on upper floors. Sliding glass doors should have devices as simple as an appropriately sized rod dropped into the track to prevent an intruder from forcing the lock and opening the door.
  • Hide or lock up valuables. Utilize a safe deposit box or a household safe. If these are not an option, put valuables somewhere unusual like a kitchen pantry or bathroom closet in an inconspicuous container.
  • Hide or lock up items that can be used to steal your identity, including social security cards, financial information and any personal identification that you’re not taking with you. 
  • Disconnect your garage door. Unplug your garage door openers and lock it manually.
  • Remove the spare key that is hidden outside
  • Alert your alarm company that you’re going away.
  • Put fresh batteries in cameras, smoke detectors and any other components and make sure they are in good working order.
  • Exterior lighting - put up lights with motion sensors
  • Turn off home computers. Many clients leave their computers on as a matter of habit, but always-on computers are more susceptible to hacking.
  • Back up all data. Storing all sensitive files in a secure facility on the cloud is recommended, as is backing up data onto a removable storage device that can be kept in a home safe.

 

Make the Home Look as If It Is Occupied

  • Set up timers for various interior and exterior lights. Don’t leave your lights on at home throughout your entire vacation in an effort to make it look like someone is in the house. House lights blazing throughout the night might look a bit suspicious. Instead set up timers that work with random intervals. Also consider using a timer for your TV to create noise and flickering lights.
  • Leave the blinds as you normally do. Noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around anymore. Move expensive items, like gaming systems or computers, out of plain sight if they’re visible from the window. If you have electronics on a timer, close the blinds halfway, or close them strategically so that certain areas or rooms are hidden, while blinds in other areas remain open.
  • Place a hold on mail, newspaper and other deliveries or have a trusted friend collect while you are away. USPS will hold your mail at your local post office for free for 30 days. For longer trips, you should set up mail forwarding or arrange for someone else to pick it up for you. Leading up to the trip, have all packages sent to your business address. In case something is shipped late, it will not be sitting on your doorstep for a week.
  • Continue with regular home maintenance while you are away, including lawn care and pool cleaning
  • Arrange to have a neighbor take out the trash. If trash day comes while you’re on vacation, ask a neighbor if they can pull your cans out and bring them back in after the trash is taken.

 

Ask A Trusted Friend or Neighbor to Keep an Eye on Things

Grab any packages or flyers, and make sure things look normal. Give this person a key, alarm system codes, contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of emergencies.

 

 Consider Hiring a House Sitter

A house-sitting arrangement may be worth considering for a particularly long absence. Whether a family member, a friend, or other acquaintance (nannies often make great house sitters!), having someone actually stay at your home to care for and keep an eye on it is a great way to ensure its safety.