So you are finally heading off on that long-awaited vacation with your family. Everything is booked, the weather forecast is great, and the itinerary is firmly in place. You are looking ahead to some fun, exciting times with your folk!
But there is one unsavory thought on your mind. Will my house remain safe when I’m gone?
It’s prudent to think that way, and even better to prepare for all eventualities. Following are some tips to keep everything at home safe and secure, so that you can break free of worries and make the most of your vacation.
Make your place look lived in
It helps to think from a thief’s perspective. What are they most likely to spot?
Answer: A quiet, unkempt house in a busy neighborhood.
You may be hundreds of miles away from your home and may be gone for weeks, but you don’t want your house to resemble a haunted building in your absence. Arrange for the mail and/or the newspapers to be delivered in a particular box, so that there’s no pile at your doorstep screaming “there’s no one home, yay!” Alternatively, arrange the mail to be delivered at your neighbor’s, and cancel any other subscriptions for the duration of your absence.
And while you are at it, leave the pets with neighbors, friends, or family. (We know you would, just saying!)
Protect your garden
A neglected garden is the first and the most obvious tip-off to passersby of a dodgy mentality. Arrange to have your garden looked after if you are going to be away for more than a week or ten days. Hire professional mowers; that will keep your lawn looking spic and span, and also keep undesired elements at bay.
If you are gone in winter, a lack of footprints on the snow would be a clear giveaway about your house lying vacant. Arrange for someone to shovel the snow on your driveway and around your house, for a natural appearance.
Arm your house with central burglar alarms
Be aware of the kind of burglaries that take place in your neighborhood and avoid creating similar circumstances for yourself when you are gone. Keep your property safe by arming it with a central burglar alarm system. Unlike a local burglar alarm, a central alarm will tip off the central station of the company who installed your alarm. They will in turn call your local authorities to dispatch help immediately to your residence to capture the miscreants.
Don’t leave any valuables in the house when you are gone
Leave all the cash, diamonds, other expensive jewelry, and important papers at your parents’ house or put it in a bank locker.
Install a proper home surveillance system
Hidden outdoor cameras do an excellent job of spying on any and all visitors to your doorstep. Many of them come equipped with motion detection abilities and corresponding apps that you can install on your phone. Each time the system detects any movement on your turf, it will trigger an alert informing you of the breach. Some apps also send over a video clip of the motion detected, letting you decide if it is something to sound the alarm over. A trespassing cat is hardly worth getting bothered over now, is it?
If you don’t have the money to spend on a sophisticated high-end home security camera system, turn to your smartphone for some excellent help. Many apps that are available for free download contain the same features as a full-fledged camera system to keep you informed of how the security at your residence is holding up in your absence. Do some research and find an app or a security system best suited to your needs.
Arrange for house lights to come on at a certain time
This ties in with the earlier point about making your place look lived in even when it is not. Some home security systems, or even home security smartphone apps, allow you to turn the lights on or off from your remote location. You must make use of this feature and regulate the lighting at your home so that it isn’t lit or dark all the time. Lights inside the house coming on and off as they would when you are at home would give the impression that your house is occupied.
Plug off electrical appliances before you leave
Appliances turned off but still plugged in also consume electricity, albeit a lot lesser than they would when switched on. Save on energy costs as well as eliminate the risk of a power outage or a short circuit in your absence by disconnecting all your electronic items. Also disconnect your garage door.
Empty your refrigerator
Anything that can stink will stink, given enough time. Clear your fridge of any biodegradable stuff in it, which basically means all types of food – organic, processed, or laden with preservatives. Remember you are going to plug off your refrigerator so it’s not going to be able to save anything it contains. Closed and disconnected refrigerators start stinking bad anyway, so you might want to leave the fridge door slightly (just very slightly) ajar.
Also get rid of any stagnant water in your house and empty the kitchen sink of dirty dishes.
What about garbage cans?
Given the amount of waste an average American produces each day, empty garbage cans in front of a house are suspect. Is there no one living in there? (Thieves are trained to spot such things, you know.)
You might want to put your garbage bins right next to your neighbor’s. That way, wannabe intruders won’t be able to tell which are yours and which are theirs. Check with your neighbors, they should be fine with it. If not, tuck the cans out of sight!
Request help from local cops
Check out what your local police department has to say about the current level of threat of crime in your neighborhood. Also read up on their website about things to take care of when going on a vacation. Depending on where you live, you may also have the option to request a free security inspection.
This inspection would involve trained professionals examining your house’s level of security, the locks, the lighting, threat to the garden, etc., and guide you on how to completely secure your premises before you leave. They may also offer to check up on your home from time to time while you are gone. Cops keeping an eye on your house, surely that should put an end to your worrying?
Take out adequate insurance
You want every single valuable thing in your house to be insured. Take pictures or videos of the entire place, your car, your garden, and all the valuable assets inside your property on a digicam so that you have a solid record of what your assets were and what they looked like before you left on your vacation. In the eventuality of a robbery, vandalism, or a natural calamity, this footage may make or break your insurance claims.
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