Taking a trip soon? Be sure to vacation-proof your home before you go. Here are some tips on how to keep your home safe while you’re away.
Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation
Turn on some lights.
A house sitting for days with no lights on may become a target for burglary. A light or two left on can help make the house look occupied while you’re away.
Of course, just because the lights are on, it doesn’t always mean that someone’s home. A potential thief might notice that your living room light is always on. To protect your home while you’re on vacation, you can set timers on your lights to make it look like someone could conceivably be home.
You can buy timer switches at most hardware stores. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need to have a little electrical know-how to install them so you may need to find some help.
For an easier installation experience, you could turn to smart plugs. These plug directly into your outlets and can be controlled by an app on your phone. You can plug in a lamp that you can then turn on and off while on vacation. Some even offer an away mode that will randomly turn lights on and off for you.
In addition to making it more believable that someone might be home, setting your lights to turn on and off will also help keep your electricity bill lower than if you simply left the lights on for the duration of your trip.
Related: The Many Benefits of a Green Home
Put a hold on your mail and newspapers.
Don’t let mail and newspapers pile up while you’re away. It may be a dead giveaway that no one’s home.
It’s very simple to put your mail on hold before a vacation. The USPS has an online form that you can fill out to have them hold your mail during the dates when you’ll be away from home.
You could also ask a friend, relative or neighbor to bring your mail and newspapers in while you’re gone. The benefit of this is that there will be cars pulling in and out of your driveway, making it look like someone is home.
Check that the security systems you have in place are in good working order.
To protect your home from burglary, test your window and door locks to make sure that they’re secure. If you have a home security system, be sure that it’s set properly for your vacation.
If you don’t have a home security system, you may want to consider investing in one if you live in an area that has higher crime rates.
“Homeowners generally pay between $100 and $1,200 for a burglar alarm (the price depends on the size of the home and type of system), plus a monthly monitoring fee of around $40,” advise the experts at BrightNest. “If that doesn’t fit your budget, just seeing a home security sign prominently displayed out front of your home can deter burglars, even if you don’t actually have a security system installed.”
Don’t let the world know you’re on vacation.
You’re probably already familiar with this tip but it bears repeating: it’s best to avoid posting about an upcoming vacation on social media. It’s difficult to control who all will see that post, so keep the details to yourself until you get back to help keep your home safe while on vacation. Then, feel free to share all of your favorite vacation pictures!
Before You Go: What to do at Home Before Going on Vacation
Run through this pre-vacation checklist for your home to make sure you don’t forget anything before leaving on vacation:
- Make sure all candles are blown out and unplug any appliances that throw off heat (think straighteners and irons).
- If a cold snap is in the forecast while you’re gone, open cabinet doors under kitchen and bathroom sinks to help prevent the pipes from freezing.
- Lock doors and windows.
- Turn down your hot water heater. It’s not dangerous to leave it at its usual temperature, but if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, turning it down can help save energy and money.
- Turn down the heat or air conditioning. If you’re on a winter vacation, though, be sure not to set the heat too low. If so, you may risk some pipes freezing.
- Turn off the water to your house if you don’t want to worry about pipes bursting while you’re away.
Consider Long-Term Safety Improvements to Your Home
Things like landscaping, lighting and fencing can have a huge impact on the safety of your house. If you look around before going on vacation and realize there are some big-ticket items you could tackle to make your home more secure, add them to your home improvement wish list. If you don’t have the cash on hand right away, home construction and home equity loans can help make that dream a reality.