Keeping your home safe while you’re away from it involves common sense more than anything else. Maintaining your living habits on the home front is crucial to keeping burglars at bay.
Lighting is very important. Although it’s not necessary to keep lights on in every room, keeping them on in the rooms that your family usually occupies is a must. Set up a timer (available at major hardware stores) to give the illusion of occupancy.
If you have outdoor motion lighting, make sure it’s installed high enough so that the bulbs can’t be removed. Secure doors and windows properly, including basement windows, garage windows and screen doors.
Leave your blinds or curtains partially open. Turn your phone ringer on low or off and call forward your home number to a cellphone or a family member’s residence.
All exterior doors (including the inside garage door) should have deadbolt locks with one-in. throws and reinforced strike plates (the part of the frame that accepts the bolt). Don’t forget to secure all sliding glass doors and windows with auxiliary locks or a piece of wood in the track to prevent intruders from forcing it open. Install two-in. screws in the top track to stop thieves from lifting the door or window completely out of its track.
Make sure to unplug the electric overhead garage door opener. This will disable the unit and prevent anyone tampering with frequencies from gaining entry. If you have a manual overhead garage door, wedge two-by-fours between the door and the ceiling so that it can’t be opened from the outside.
If you trust your neighbours, let them know when you’ll be away and leave a number where you can be reached. Leaving a key with a reliable neighbour, relative or friend is an option. Make certain that whoever has access to your home knows what to do in case of an emergency. Have this trusted person collect your mail and newspapers daily. Do not suspend mail and newspaper deliveries, as a potential thief may pickup on the interruption of service.
Trim the shrubbery near your entrance and walkways. It’s also important that someone maintains your garden and lawn. Have a neighbour occasionally park his or her car in your driveway to make it look as though someone’s at home. Hide your garbage bins in the garage or basement. On collection day, have your neighbours put their garbage and recycling on your property for pickup.
Lock up any ladders, tools, or other objects that can aid in a break-in. And why not display a “beware of dog” or alarm company sign on your property? It goes without saying that if you have an alarm system, you should test it and make sure your home is armed before leaving on holiday.
Call your home insurance company and review your policy obligations, and don’t forget to take a home video of all your furnishings and valuables and keep it off premises.
Complete your pre-vacation security checklist and enjoy your time away.