A home security checklist for vacationers

Summer is the season for bathing suits and beaches, but sunny weather also brings out burglars. Since it’s such a popular vacation season, burglars are constantly sniffing around for empty homes; it’s harder to get caught when homeowners are miles away.

As you’re making your vacation to-do lists, add this home security checklist to your calendar to ensure you come back to your home just the way you left it.

Holding your Mail

Overstuffed mailboxes tip burglars off to an empty house. Contact your local post office up to 30 days in advance to notify them you would like your mail to be held for the duration of your trip.

Keep your lawn tidy

If you’re going to be gone for an extended period, your overgrown lawn may also signal that no one is home. Consider hiring a landscaper or neighbor to come by just to mow the grass and trim some of the shrubbery to maintain the illusion that someone is around to take care of the lawn.

Keep your Driveway warm

Another way to fake out potential burglars is to keep your driveway occupied. Ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway from time to time.

No spares left outside

You should never leave keys outside, no matter how cleverly you think they are hidden. This is a huge vulnerability in your home security, since they can be found by anyone who pokes around long enough. Leave your keys with a trusted neighbor instead.

Emergency Contact

Set up a temporary emergency contact number. This could mean buying a pay-per-minute plan and phone while you are abroad or asking a friend or family member that you trust to be your emergency contact. Give them the information and access they need to be able to make or carry out decisions on your behalf should anything ever happen. You can leave a spare key with them and even set up a temporary access code on your home security system.

Inform Your Bank and Home Security Company

Especially if you plan on using your ATM card or credit card on your vacation, you need to inform your bank of the destinations you plan to be visiting. This way, they won’t flag unusual spending activity in these various locations. You also need to inform your home security company of the duration of your trip so that they know who to contact in case of an emergency.

Write phone number on luggage

Never write your addresses on your luggage in case its contents contain any sensitive information that could lead criminals to target you. Instead, write the phone number of your emergency contact and/or home phone.

Cancel Deliveries and Newspapers

Don’t forget that a cluttered doorstep doesn’t look any better than an overflowing mailbox. If you have orders that haven’t come in yet, cancel them or ask a friend to pick them up for you. If you have regular subscriptions that come to your door, like newspapers, cancel or put them on hold as well.

Appliance Timers

Put your lamps and radios on an appliance timer that will turn them on at set intervals throughout the day.

Limit Social Media Sharing

As exciting as your upcoming trip may be, avoid posting your vacation dates and locations. Your posts might reach more people than you think, and you never know who is looking for empty houses.

Lock Away or Hide Valuables

If you have a home safe, put it to good use while you’re gone, hiding your valuables and sensitive information. If you don’t have a safe, put your valuables out of sight or use a safety deposit box.

Before you leave

  • Shut off gas and water to prevent leaks or fires
  • Unplug electrical devices to save energy
  • Lock and deadbolt as many doors and windows as you can
  • Arm your home security system
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