You packed the car, overfed the fish, watered the plants, put on your out-of-office message, rounded up the kids and filled up the gas tank. At the risk of adding any more steps to the nearly impossible pre-vacation checklist, we regret to inform you that locking the door doesn't cut it when it comes to home security. (You did remember to lock the door, right?)
We checked in with Beth Dodson — cofounder of home management software system HomeZada — for tips on keeping your home base safe while you're napping on the beach.
Test your security system
Unless you're particularly forgetful, it's likely that you haven't actually set off your alarm in awhile. "Call the company, and tell them you're running a test," advises Dodson. "You want to make sure your home security system works before you're on your way out." And as for the passcode, don't use your address — it's easy for your family to remember, but also easy for an uninvited guest to figure out.
These days, it's easy to fit thousands of dollars worth of electronics in a backpack. While HomeZada offers platforms to account for all of your valuables, even a quick cell phone video tour of your home can be helpful if you have to make an insurance claim. "Most people can't remember the details of what they had," says Dodson. "You're in such a state when your house has been broken into that you're going to miss things when you go to file a claim."
Think before you post
There are a lot of creeps looking at your social media profiles — and not all of them are harmless high-school classmates. Posting pictures of your entire family across the country is an invitation to would-be burglars, warns Dodson. "If you really must post to Facebook, wait until you're on your way home — or better yet, after you're home," she says.
Move the spare key already
"Stop leaving your key under the planter! Just stop," says Dodson. "I can't tell you how many people do this. You're inviting people in!" For the record, yes: the welcome mat and mailbox are even worse options.
No plans for a pricey security system? Here are five quick, cheap steps you can take to make your empty home more secure and less inviting to burglars.
- Put your mail on hold (well-meaning neighbors might forget to collect it).
- Mow the lawn right before leaving.
- Have a pup? Put up a "beware of dog" sign.
- Install motion detector lights.
- Inform neighbors (especially nosy ones) of your travel plans and ask them to keep an eye out.