25 Top Tips to Safeguard Your Home While You are on Holidays

Keep Your Belongings Safe while You Travel

Most people know that they should discontinue their newspapers and keep the lawn mowed when they venture out on vacation or extended business trips. However, there are many other ways to safeguard your home. Here are 25 top tips.

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann

1. Refrain from talking about your trip in public. Anyone, including potential thieves, could be listening.

2. Do not advertise on the Internet or in newspapers for a housesitter. Burglars scan these types of ads for potential targets.

3. Inform your alarm company and police department of your travel plans, especially for long trips. Provide these authorities with your cell phone number and/or the number of a local emergency contact.

4. Request that police patrol your neighborhood more often while you are away.

5. Tell your housesitter the location of main electrical circuit boxes, fuse boxes, and gas/water shutoffs.

6. Use your cell phone or digital camera to snap photos of anyone who might need to access your home while you are gone, such as relatives, contractors, the student who shovels your snow or mows the lawn, petsitters, etc. E-mail or develop the photos and give copies to the person watching your home.

7. Consider installing motion-sensitive lights outside the house. Well-lit buildings are less likely targets for night intruders.

8. Deadbolt locks for windows and doors are another excellent investment. Research indicates that burglars avoid breaking into premises that require more than 60 seconds to enter.

9. If you don't already have one, consider installing a monitored alarm system. The obvious reason is to protect your property. However, another excellent incentive is the lower insurance rates offered by many insurance companies. If possible, discuss the matter with your local insurance agents. They may be able to recommend or provide coupons for one or more security companies.

10. Check all exterior lights and change bulbs or make repairs if necessary.

11. Arrange to have snow removed during the winter, leaves raked up during the fall, and the lawn moved during the summer. A well-maintained yard makes your home look lived in.

12. Make sure that someone picks up your mail daily and takes your trash to the curb on garbage day.

13. Place a few children's toys around the yard to provide an illusion of occupancy.

14. Instead of leaving your vehicle parked in the garage, move it into the driveway. If possible, have someone drive it occasionally; or ask a neighbor to park a vehicle in your driveway.

15. Before you go, be sure to unplug the garage door opener. Manufacturers produce the remote control units on an assembly line, and many will use the same frequency or combination. Someone might open your garage door with another opener - intentionally or by accident.

16. Gather up small valuables like jewelry and transfer to your safety deposit box.

17. Unplug all computers, electronic equipment, and appliances. This measure is particularly crucial for anything that is surge- or lightening-sensitive. It also saves electricity.

18. Turn off all telephone ringers. Nothing signals "nobody home" more than a telephone that rings - and rings - and rings.

19. Your telephone answering machine or voice message should say something generic, with no indication that you are away from home.

20. If YOU can find a key in a flowerpot or under a welcome mat, so can a crook. Do not hide keys; give them to the appropriate people before you leave.

21. Turn off the main water supply to appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.

22. Place timers on a radio or two and a few lamps so that they turn on and off several times throughout the day. This makes your home look occupied.

23. Secure pet doors, including cat doors, and remember to look all doors and windows, including the garage and storage shed doors.

24. Do not turn off your air conditioner in the summer. Instead, choose a moderate setting so that it will activate when the weather gets hot. A lack of air conditioning on a scorching day is a sure sign that a house is unoccupied.

25. While you are away, clear your answering machine or voice mail at least once daily. This eliminates messages/beeps signaling that you have not checked in lately.

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann: This article is free to publish only if this copyright notice, the byline, and the author's note below (with active links) are included.

About the Author:

Kathy writes travel articles and provides editorial assistance for several websites. You can read more of her writing at KathySteinemann.com

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