You’ve been looking forward to your vacation for a long time. Finally you can get out of the office, out of the house, and onto a tropical beach or a cabin in the mountains.
But while you’re taking pictures of stunning sunsets and alpine vistas, did you make sure to lock all the doors and windows of your house? Forward your mail? Cancel your newspaper delivery? There are a lot of things to do before leaving your house for an extended period of time.
Here’s a look at seven things that jeopardize home security if you don’t take care of them.
1. Not canceling your newspaper
Nothing screams “Nobody’s home” louder than several days’ worth of unopened newspapers littering your doorstep. If you let your newspaper know you’re going to be gone, it’ll not only keep the driveway looking neat, but also make it appear that someone in the house is taking in the newspapers. A burglar scouting properties will be less likely to realize your place is empty.
2. Not forwarding your mail
Just like #1, an overflowing mailbox is an obvious indicator that no one’s at home. Ask your local post office to forward your mail to a friend’s house for as long as you’re away. From the outside of the house, it’ll look like the mailbox is cleared every day.
3. Not having someone do the lawn
If a would-be burglar notices your lawn has not been mowed, that’s an invitation. Ask a neighbor or friend (or a trustworthy kid who needs some money) if they’d do some basic yardwork while you’re gone. Your house will look nice, but more importantly, it’ll look occupied.
4. Not arranging for someone to check in
Keeping up appearances is one thing, but movement and activity around your house is better. If you can get a neighbor or a friend to go over to your house two or three times a day — perhaps to water the plants, remove flyers from the door, and feed the cat — your property will appear far too risky to break into.
5. Failing to take out the garbage
Some criminals are smarter than others. Some believe that garbage and recycling bins that haven’t been emptied are a sign that the owners won’t be around for a while.
If you’re going to be gone on garbage pickup day, ask a friend or neighbor to put the bins on the sidewalk for you, then put them back in place after collection. Any sign that your house has activity will deter potential thieves.
6. Not installing an electronics/appliances timer
If you can’t get someone to visit your house daily, it might be worth investing in a timer that controls the lights and sounds coming from your home. With optimum configuration, timers can turn your lights on and off at random, and switch your TV and radio on — to give the impression there is someone in the house.
7. Not replacing your smoke detector battery
Break-ins aren’t the only thing to worry about when you’re on holiday. A gas leak, an errant spark, or an innocuous beam of sunlight that hits the glass at just the right angle can cause a fire. That’s when you’ll wish you had made sure your smoke detectors had new batteries in them, to protect your home from sustaining too much fire damage before 911 got a call.