Tips for Protecting Your Home During the Holidays
The holidays are all about spending time with family, eating good food, thinking about the meaning for the holidays, and enjoying the time off of work.
It is usually at this time, during the holidays, when most people are locking up, getting in the car, and going to visit other family members.
For instance, my husband and I like to spend time around Thanksgiving with his grandparents, and time around Christmas with his parents. Sometimes we get to go before the actual holidays, sometimes we get to be with them right on Thanksgiving and Christmas day, and sometimes, we don’t get to see them until afterward.
But that’s what’s great about family. They want to see you whenever you can get off of work and get there. And thank goodness we have some great neighbors. We always have someone to watch our house, come over and take care of the pets we have to leave behind, and in general, take care of everything while we are gone.
But not everyone is as lucky as we are. Leaving your home behind and hoping that everything will be safe while you’re gone can be a real stressor for many families.
But there are many things that you can do to ensure that your home and all of your precious belongings are safe while you can’t be there to watch over them. BY taking just a few preventive steps, you can enjoy your holidays with family without having to worry about what’s happening back at home.
Do you normally travel to visit family or stay at home for the holidays?
Unhinge Garage Door Opener
This is a trick my dad taught me when I first bought my own home. At the moment, your garage door is likely either connected to a garage door opener or connected so that you can manually open the door by hand.
Both of these options, when you are away from your home for more than a few hours, can put your home at risk.
Those that know what they are doing can clone your garage door opener and get into your home when you’re away. Without a garage door opener, thieves can easily get into your home by manually lifting your garage door and walking right into your home.
It’s easy just to unattach your garage door opener from your garage, or disconnect the mechanism the allows you to manually open your garage door on the ceiling of your garage.
This way, when you are not going to be home for 2 days or more, this area of your home is not vulnerable to those that would like to take advantage of you.
By no means do I suggest doing something like this on a daily basis, but when you are out of town for any prolonged period of time, this is a wise decision.
Lock Your Doors and Windows
I know this sounds silly, but making sure that all of your doors and windows, even the ones into your garage from the side door, and into your garage from the house, need to be locked when you leave for vacation.
I also happen to know that most people leave at least one window unlocked somewhere around their home, even if behind a shaded screen, for just the case that they accidentally lock themselves out of the house.
Not only do all of these need to be locked now, but you also need to remove any “extra keys,” no matter how well hidden around your home, because although you may think no one will be able to find them, there are individuals that do this as a life skill and know how to find very well “hidden” items easily.
Turn on Home Alarm
If you have a home alarm, this would be a great time to arm it. I would also let your alarm company know that you will be out of town and give them the dates. This way they know to let you know if they see something irregular while you are gone.
If you have someone coming over or checking on your house while you are gone, I would make sure to create a separate number and password for them so that they can arm and disarm your security alarm while you are away.
Install Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights
One of the main things that lets everyone know that you are no longer home is the absence of lights in and around your home.
Outdoor lights that are set to a motion sensor are great for many reasons. Not only do they save you money, as they only come on after dark when someone walks in their path, but they light up the outside of your home and deter those with negative intentions from choosing your home to desecrate.
These are great even when you are home on a regular basis and will help to keep you and your family safe. When you are not home though, lights coming on outside of your home lighting up entry ways, the driveway, and the backyard, give the appearance of someone at home, and offer that same deterrence as they do when you are there.
Put Your Indoor Lights on a Timer
Just as outdoor lights protect the outside of your home, and discourage those that don’t belong there from trying to deface, destroy or enter your home uninvited, lights coming on inside periodically give the appearance of someone in the house.
Just as you can set your Christmas lights on a timer, which are great for when you are not at home as well, setting a few indoor lights on a timer are great too.
Perhaps you can set a lamp or two in the living and dining room to come on around dinnertime, and switch them over to lamps in the bedrooms around bedtime, to go off when you would normally go to sleep.
We have timers on our aquarium lights, so why should your home lights be any harder to program. Timers may cost you a few dollars each, but isn’t the cost worth it in the end to keep your home safe when you are gone?
Have Someone Park a Car in Your Driveway
This is one I have figured out over the years. Perhaps I watch way too many movies, but I’ve discovered that burglars look for homes to burglarize where they cannot see changes around the home for some time.
For instance, they look for lights on inside and outside the home, mail being picked up, and cars coming and going in the driveway.
One way we have discovered to make it look even more authentic that you are home, is to have a car in the driveway, even if it is just sitting there the whole time you are gone.
However, if someone actually used the car throughout the day and returned it back to its place in your driveway afterward, it would probably be even more convincing.
Suspend Your Mail and Newspaper Delivery
As I stated before, burglars look for signs that people are away on vacation, especially during the holidays.
If they see newspapers piling up in your driveway, and mail crammed into your mailbox from not being checked, they will instantly know which house is the perfect target.
It’s just as easy to call the post office, or go and visit, and let them know that you will be out of town, and give them the dates. Ask them to hold on to mail and packages until you get home from vacation.
You will also want to call your local newspaper office and ask them to hold on to any newspapers for you.
This way there won’t be packages, newspapers, and mail alerting everyone in the neighborhood, and those with less than honorable intentions, that you are not there.
Keys for Protecting Your Home
If you remember these tips, you can be sure that your house will be safe during the holidays:
- Unhinge Your Garage Door Opener
- Lock All of Your Doors and Windows
- Turn on Your Home Security Alarm
- Install Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights
- Put Your Indoor Lights on a Timer
- Have Someone Park a Car in Your Driveway
- Suspend Your Mail and Newspaper Delivery
- Don’t Post Your Travel Plans on Social Media
- Ask a Neighbor to Help You
Don’t Post Your Plans on Social Media
I think everyone knows this rule.
When you post your vacations plans on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media site, you are specifically telling burglars, and those that wish to do harm over the holidays exactly when you will be gone and where to go to get some good stuff.
It’s fine to tell everyone about your amazing vacation after your get home, it’s even fine to post holiday pictures to share with all of your friends, family, and loved ones.
However, please don’t make it easier than necessary for someone to do your home and/or your family harm, especially during the holidays when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself.
Ask a Neighbor to Help
When we leave for more than a day, whether it is over the holidays, or just for a fun getaway together, we always tell our trusted neighbors so that they can keep an eye on our home. And we always leave a key to the house with at least one of them.
Nobody knows our comings and goings better than our immediate neighbors. Especially in our neighborhood, which is pretty quiet and filled with retirees, if someone were to come over that didn’t belong, or even if someone was in the neighborhood that didn’t belong, the cops would be here in a few minutes.
If you have a handy trusted neighbor, many of the things I mentioned above won’t even be necessary. A good neighbor can park their car in the driveway for you, pick up your mail and newspaper and save them for you, and even turn on lights throughout the day so it looks like you’re home.
We kind of have standing deals with all of our neighbors to close doors, lock up, pick up mail, take care of animals, and even keep a watch out for each other’s homes when one or more are gone.
We’ve even had neighbors bring our puppies back home when they’ve gotten out. It’s nice knowing that our homes are safe whenever we leave.
When it comes to the safety of your home and your precious belongings, nothing is silly or going overboard.
You work hard to create a nice home for yourself and your family, and you decorate it with nice pictures, comfy furniture, and other things that make it feel like home. It makes sense that you would want it to be safe, and that you would want everything to be protected while you were away.
And there’s no reason that it can’t be.
As long as you take the necessary precautions, and heed these important warnings, your home, your family’s precious belongings, and all of the memories you’ve created over the years, will be safe and sound when you return home.
I hope this gives you a great check list for safeguarding your home, calms your anxieties, and helps you to have a fun and relaxing vacation away during the holidays. Enjoy!
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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness