Your bags are packed and you’re ready for the vacation you’ve been planning for weeks, months or even years. Summer time is a busy time for travel. According to Forbes Magazine, 68% of Americans plan to head out on a summer vacations this year. Peak vacation season is also prime time for home burglaries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice. How safe is your home?
While your mind may already be in vacation mode, before you head out, take some time to run through this home security checklist to ensure your home is safe and sound while you’re off relaxing and enjoying the sites on your trip.
Invest in a monitored home security system. You may feel you live in a safe neighborhood, where a security system is unnecessary, but this really is your first line of defense against anyone who wants to enter your home while you’re away. Security companies today offer a number of the devices we’ve previously mentioned to help monitor your home, from door and window sensors to doorbell cameras, motion detectors, cameras and glass-break sensors. Not only are you able to monitor your home from an app on your phone, you’ll also have the peace of mind knowing the security company is watching over your home and will alert authorities if there is ever a breach in your system.
Use smart switches and programmable lights. Especially handy when you’re away from the house, these smart devices have an “away mode” which will periodically switch on a light or television to make it appear as if someone is home.
Add smart door locks. Purchased individually, or through your home security company, smart door locks allow you to lock and unlock your front door remotely. You may also grant temporary access with expiring door codes for any family, neighbors or pet sitters who may be looking in on your home and pets while you are away. Keep track of exactly who enters your home and when with a smart lock.
Install a doorbell camera. These simple, affordable and easy-to-use devices are becoming increasingly popular. A doorbell camera allows you to monitor your front door and answer your door from anywhere. When someone approaches your front door or rings your doorbell, you’ll get a notification on your smartphone and will be able to engage in a two-way conversation with that individual.
Reschedule or cancel package deliveries. Schedule any package deliveries to arrive before you leave or after you get home from vacation. Deliveries left on your porch aren’t just a temptation for porch snatchers, they’re also a clear indication nobody is home. Don’t leave any notes on your front door for mail, package delivery or visitors either. Doing so is just a green light for would-be burglars. You can suspend mail delivery while your away. Simply go to USPS.com to put a hold on your delivery until you return from vacation. This service is free for 30 days.
Keep your plans private. Avoid making any public announcements that you’re headed off on vacation. This includes social media, email autoreply and voicemail. If you’re one who enjoys posting photos on social media, hold off on posting your vacation photos until you are safely at home, or be sure to check privacy settings on and photos you do post to ensure only friends are able to view them. Don’t mention the dates you’ll be away and keep any work voicemail or email autoreply messages vague, without any details.
Remove any spare keys. Gather up emergency house keys you may have stashed under the doormat or in flower pots. As clever as you think your hiding spot may be, it’s probably the first place a potential burglar would look. Before you leave, double check that all doors and windows are shut and locked.
Install motion-sensor security lights. Anyone attempting to break into your home will likely hide in dark areas around your home to stay out of view of your neighbors. Motion-sensor lights around the exterior of your home will illuminate your house when someone is nearby.
Close curtains and shut blinds. Keep blinds closed so anyone looking can’t see inside your home, looking for valuables, electronics and other items to steal.
Check batteries in all home security devices. Make sure motion detectors, cameras and smoke detectors batteries are good and won’t die while you’re away. Although they come with a higher price tag, higher quality batteries are worth the investment over budget batteries in these devices throughout your home.
Unplug non-essential electronics. You’ll save a little extra on your electric bill but you’ll also reduce the risk of a fire while you’re away by unplugging TVs, coffee-makers, computers, printers, and other non-essential electronics. Should a storm pass through while you’re on vacation, any unplugged appliances and devices will be protected from a power surge, which can short out your equipment and cause a fire.
Shut off the water main. To avoid damage from any burst pipes or other problems while you’re away, turn off the water main. Even if you need to keep the main line on so your sprinkler system will run, you can individually shut off the water supply to toilets, sinks, the ice maker, washing machine and dishwasher.
Secure any valuables in a safe deposit box. Don’t leave anything of value in plain sight that may be able to be seen from a window. Make a record of your valuables and take pictures of high-ticket belongings such as laptops, TVs and jewelry. Should the worst happen, you’ll at least have a record to provide police and be able to confirm ownership of any items that are recovered by police.
Taking these steps to protect your home isn’t about being paranoid, but about giving yourself some peace-of-mind so you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation to the max without concern for what’s happening back at home. And if you are looking for the peace of mind that comes from knowing your mortgage is in good shape, contact a PrimeLending home loan expert who run the numbers and see if refinancing makes sense.