ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR SUMMER VACATION?
Here are a few things that will help keep your home safe while you are away
When you're traveling, you'll enjoy your trip more if you feel confident that your house is well-secured against burglars. If you don't have someone to stay in your home while you're gone, the next best way to protect it is to give it the appearance of being occupied. Houses that appear lived-in are far less tempting to burglars, who prefer to do their work without any risk of discovery. Here are some tips and suggestions from the National Crime Prevention Council about the best way to give your home a lived-in look.
Ask a neighbor, friend or relative to help out
Knowing your neighbors improves your overall safety in a variety of ways, but having someone's help is especially important when you're away from home. Have a trusted person house sit for you to help keep your home from being a target.
Move the cars in your driveway
Have your friend or neighbor park their car in your driveway when they're at home. A car that comes and goes is a great indicator that the house is being used, especially if the schedule is unpredictable. Alternatively, if you have left your own car behind, ask them to move it now and then. Also, don't leave any identifying documents in your car while you're gone, and be sure to remove the garage door opener as well.
Pick up mail as well as any packages or flyers left on your doorstep
This is actually a better tactic than having your mail held at the post office, because the disappearance of mail out of your box every day provides evidence of someone being around. However, even if you have the post office hold your mail, it's still good to ask that neighbor to check your doorstep once a day.
Put out your garbage cans
Follow your normal trash pick up schedule even if the neighbor has to throw a bit of their own trash in there.
Move the window shades and curtains
Make sure the shades or curtains are moved into a different position each day, as you would normally when you are home. You should not simply leave the blinds drawn, as that makes a house look empty.
Don't advertise your absence on Facebook or other social media sites
This is the new trend for criminals to find out when you are leaving, how long you will be gone and when you will be back. This allows them ample time to break in to your home. The fact that your house is standing empty is not something that you want spreading virally through the network of friends and their friends and acquaintances. If you need to send immediate photos or information consider sending directly to your family member on their cell phone or email don't post it on the social media sites. You can post the exciting information and photos AFTER you return home.
Don't let the yard be neglected
For longer absences, make sure that the lawn gets mowed and the plants watered. This may require asking a friend or family member, or hiring someone. Again, consider the spread of information, and try to keep your absence known to only a few highly trusted people.
If you have a land-line phone, disconnect it or turn down the ringer
An unanswered ringing phone is a clear indication of an empty house.
Take valuables out of your house
Although with these precautions in place, it's unlikely your house will be broken into, it's also important to protect your most vulnerable possessions, just in case. Small, very valuable items should be placed in a bank safe deposit box, and weapons should be locked in an unmovable (built-in) gun safe.
Put internal lights on different timers
Indoor and outdoor lighting are both very important. Either have the house sitter change the lights for you or invest in more than a single timer, since different rooms are used at different times when people are really there. Create a fictitious traffic pattern that makes sense: living room lights off at bedtime, bedroom light on, bathroom light on briefly at least once in the night. Don't leave outside lights on during the daytime this is also an indicator no one is home.
Put a radio on a timer
Hearing a radio playing inside the house will definitely discourage burglars, although this only works if it's on a timer so that it is not playing continuously.
Protect against damage while away
Many insurance claims occur while homeowners are away, a few examples are a broken water line to the washing machine or ice maker flooding the house or electrical items sparking a fire during a power surge. To help prevent water damage or electrical fires, unplug any electronic devices that will not be used in your absence and be sure to turn off the water to the refrigerator and washing machine before you leave.
With a little preparation and planning you will return relaxed and refreshed with no surprises!
Enjoy your trip!