The family home is like a beacon to criminals during the major holiday periods. It is all too common a scenario in which unsuspecting vacationers excitedly pack for their trip, start up the car, and hurriedly drive off without giving a second thought to the security of their home while they are away. According to the FBI, there are more than 400,000 burglaries between November and December alone in the United States. Whilst home security is an important consideration at all times of the year, it is vital that specific precautions be taken during times of extended absence. With this in mind, we have listed below for your information 15 home security tips before going on holiday that are important to implement.
If you have ever considered installing a home security system, your investment could not be timelier than before you leave for holiday. Allow yourself enough time before your departure date to examine your options, which should include reading the reviews of the highest rated wireless security system providers, selecting the best product for your needs, cost considerations, and the period that is required in which to install the system. There is a certain peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have done all that you can to protect your home during your absence, and knowing that you have a home security system, is the first step to enjoying your much anticipated break.
If you already have a home security system, this reminder is for you. Too often families become caught up in the excitement of going on a holiday, only to drive away without activating the home’s security system. Something that is second nature can easily be forgotten when there is a major disruption to the daily routine within the household, like a family vacation. Add this to your ‘to-do’ list, and leave a note on the door which you will be exiting from so that you remember to do it before you leave.
It is always a good idea to inform your security or alarm monitoring service of the dates that you will be on vacation. This is essential so that any activity that may have normally received a standard response can be escalated for immediate investigation. You should provide the security company with details of anyone that has key holder access to your premises, and ensure that your own contact details are current in the event of a security emergency. Some of this may seem like slight overkill, however when leaving your home for any period of time, it is better to live by the ‘better to be safe than sorry’ principle.
Timers can be your best friend while you are on holidays, and allow you to be in two places at once. You can be enjoying yourself at your vacation destination, yet also at home turning on the lights both inside and out, that is, as far as any potential burglar is aware. You may wish to have common area room lights or simply smaller lamps turn on at the times you would normally do so if you were at home. Inside and external timer lights are generally sufficient to deter intruders, although you can also use timers to activate noise by turning on the radio and television.
If you have ever experienced that niggling sensation whereby you can’t recall whether or not you locked the door behind you, then you will know how troubling it is to have that feeling. Save yourself the stress and check that you have locked all doors and windows before going for holiday. Check twice if required, or have someone else check as well. It could be a long and expensive trip home if any entry ways had remained accessible to intrusion.
If you have more than one car, and one of them has a permanent place in the driveway, leave it there while you are away. This is probably contrary to what you may read elsewhere, so have a think about it for a moment. If you suddenly place that car in the garage, thereby leaving your driveway empty, you are sending a strong signal that something has changed and, psychologically, the first thought is that there are less or no people currently occupying the house. In any case, a vehicle in the driveway represents that someone is home so if necessary, invite one or more of your neighbours to use it to maintain that belief to outside parties. Parking your car in the garage will work just fine if your neighbours agree to use your driveway.
Any controlled deliveries that you receive can be put on hold until you return, or you can ask a neighbour, friend or family member to collect the items for you. This is a wise idea in any case if your mailbox is prone to getting pummelled with junk mail. You don’t want an overflow of shopping brochures on your lawn which would signify that you are not collecting your mail. Even burglars can put two and two together in this instance!
If you are only going to be on holiday for a short period, then give your yard a decent ‘trim’ to suggest that the house is still very much occupied. Arrange for someone else to maintain it for you if you are having an extended time away. Your lawns should be nicely mowed, and your hedges and trees trimmed to allow a complete view of your house. Ensure that all accesses are visible to discourage anyone from hiding behind thick shrubbery or bushes. Any landscaping equipment including ladders, spades and bins need to be locked away to prevent them from being used as tools to assist a break-in.
Remove any boxes that may have been covering recent large expenditure items. Either lock them away if you intend to re-use them, or recycle them so that they are not visible from the yard. Remove from plain sight also any expensive or seasonal gift items that may appear attractive and tempting to burglars.
If you live in a community that has an active Neighbourhood Watch, ask them to be particularly attentive to your home while you are away. You can also ask one or more neighbours to keep an eye on the place, and you can enlist the help of a family member to call around regularly to check that nothing has been disturbed. If you can find a reliable house-sitter to occupy your property, that’s even better. If your neighbourhood is small, you can ask the police to drive past when doing their rounds. What you should never do however, is leave a key in obvious places for someone to use to gain entry on your behalf. If you need to provide a key for access, then hand the key over so that it is in safe hands instead of under a rock or mat!
Sensor lights that are installed at the front entrance have proven to be effective in deterring strangers from using the dark of night to venture further than the sidewalk footpath. These lights have a wide motion sensor, and you can adjust the range to which they can detect motion and initiate the lights that spotlight the cause of the movement on your property.
It is recommended that you leave any recorded home phone message as it is, rather than changing it to reveal that you are currently away from home on holiday. If you must change your message, ensure that the message volume is at minimum volume so that your message cannot be heard from outside of the house.
Should burglars find a way to break-in to your home, window locks and internal deadlocks on doors make it difficult for them to remove larger items through entries that they can’t unlock. Internal locks also apply to valuable items within the home. Money, Jewellery, heirlooms and other items of worth should be locked inside a well-hidden safe before you go for holidays.
Whether you have security installed in your home or not, you should obtain stickers and labels that indicate that you do have home security. Stickers and decals that are strategically placed on front windows and garage doors are rarely questioned and prove to be great deterrents to security-aware intruders.
It is one thing to feel as if you are being watched by strangers at your own home, but it’s something else when you encourage it by announcing your plans across the social airwaves. From party crashers to stalkers to home invasions, if you tell people on social media that you are taking a vacation, you risk catching the attention of social ‘pariahs’ who will do what they can to obtain your details. Do yourself a favour – keep it within the circle of family and close friends.
It is about planning ahead
Holidays are all about planning ahead, for the vacation and, more importantly, for your home’s security during your break away. By following our 15 home security tips before going for holiday, you are taking the greatest care to ensure that your home remains secure until you return.
Now it is time to take action and start getting that home security system. Check back in a couple of days as we will publish an article for 10 things to consider before buying a home security system, which will definitely give you excellent ideas for your needs or you can start right way by going through our top home security reviews