How Can Families Safeguard Homes During Extended Vacations Or Trips?

Heading out on an extended vacation or trip with your family is an exciting adventure filled with new experiences and memories to be made. However, it’s important to make sure that while you’re away, your home is safe and secure. In this article, we’ll explore some simple yet effective strategies that families can utilize to safeguard their homes during their absence, providing peace of mind and allowing you to fully enjoy your time away.

Table of Contents

Securing the Exterior

Locking all doors and windows

One of the most foundational steps in securing your home is to make sure all doors and windows are locked before you leave for an extended vacation or trip. This may seem like a simple precaution, but many break-ins occur due to unlocked or easily accessible entry points. Take a few extra minutes to double-check that all locks are engaged, providing an effective deterrent to potential intruders.

Installing outdoor lighting

Proper outdoor lighting is crucial for deterring intruders and enhancing the security of your home. Install motion-sensor lights near entrances, walkways, and other vulnerable areas to ensure that any movement is immediately illuminated. Well-lit exteriors make it difficult for anyone to approach your property unnoticed, significantly reducing the risk of burglaries or vandalism.

Using timers for lights and electronics

Leaving your home in complete darkness for an extended period of time can signal to potential intruders that it is unoccupied. To create the illusion of activity and maintain a sense of security, use timers for your lights and electronics. By programming them to turn on and off at different times, you can simulate the patterns of daily life even when you’re away. This simple and inexpensive tactic can go a long way in keeping your home safe.

Arranging for mail and package delivery

An overflowing mailbox or parcels accumulating on your doorstep can be a clear sign that no one is home. To prevent this, make arrangements with the postal service to either hold your mail or have it forwarded to a trusted friend or family member. This way, your absence won’t be as evident, and there won’t be any invitation for potential burglars.

Arranging for lawn care and maintenance

An unkempt lawn and neglected exterior can indicate to others that your home is uninhabited. To avoid drawing unwanted attention, arrange for regular lawn care and maintenance while you’re away. Hire a trusted landscaping service or ask a reliable neighbor to mow the lawn, water the plants, and maintain the overall appearance of your property. A well-kept exterior gives the impression that someone is actively present and looking after the home.

Enhancing Home Security

Installing a reliable alarm system

Investing in a reliable alarm system is one of the best ways to protect your home when you’re away. Choose a system with 24/7 monitoring capabilities and consider including features such as door/window sensors, motion detectors, and glass break sensors. An alarm system acts as a powerful deterrent and can quickly alert the authorities in case of a break-in, providing you with peace of mind during your trip.

Setting up security cameras

Security cameras play a pivotal role in deterring burglars and providing valuable evidence in case of a break-in. Install cameras in strategic locations around your property, focusing on entry points and areas with high visibility. Opt for cameras with motion detection and remote access features, allowing you to monitor your home in real-time from your mobile devices. Visible cameras act as a strong deterrent, while hidden cameras can provide valuable footage if a theft occurs.

Using smart home technology

Smart home technology offers numerous benefits in terms of security and convenience. Consider integrating devices such as smart locks, video doorbells, and smart lighting into your home security system. Smart locks allow you to remotely control access to your property, while video doorbells provide live video feeds and two-way communication with visitors. By automating your lights through smart technology, you can create the illusion of occupancy even when you’re not home.

Having a trusted neighbor check on the property

Having a reliable neighbor keep an eye on your home while you’re away can provide an additional layer of security. Inform them of your travel plans and ask if they would be willing to check on your property regularly. They can ensure everything appears normal, bring in packages, and report any suspicious activity. Building strong relationships with your neighbors fosters a sense of community and can greatly contribute to the overall safety of your neighborhood.

Hiring a house-sitter

For the utmost peace of mind, consider hiring a house-sitter to stay in your home while you’re away. This is especially beneficial if you have pets that require care or if you’re concerned about the security of your property. A house-sitter can maintain the daily routines of your household, deter potential intruders, and respond quickly to any emergencies that may arise. It’s essential to hire someone you trust and provide them with clear instructions and emergency contact information.

Protecting Valuables

Securing important documents and valuables in a safe deposit box

Protecting important documents and valuable items should be a top priority when safeguarding your home. Consider storing these items in a secured safe deposit box at a reputable bank. Important documents such as passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies, as well as valuable jewelry and irreplaceable sentimental items, can be safely stored away from potential thieves and unforeseen disasters.

Inventorying high-value items

Create a detailed inventory of your high-value items before you leave. This can include electronics, artwork, jewelry, and other valuable possessions. Document their descriptions, serial numbers, and take clear photographs to assist with recovery in the unfortunate event of a theft. Keep a copy of this inventory in a secure location, such as your safe deposit box or digitally encrypted storage, and provide a copy to your insurance company.

Hiding valuable items out of sight

When preparing your home for an extended absence, it’s essential to remove temptation for potential burglars. Hide valuable items out of sight or store them in secure locations such as safes or locked cabinets. Avoid leaving expensive electronics or jewelry in plain view from windows or other easily visible areas. By minimizing the visibility of valuable possessions, you reduce the risk of attracting unwanted attention to your property.

Engraving and photographing valuable items

Another proactive step in protecting your valuables is to engrave them with your name or other identifying information. This makes it more difficult for thieves to sell or pawn stolen items. Additionally, photographs of your valuable possessions can serve as evidence for insurance claims. Capture clear images from various angles, highlighting any distinctive features or markings. These photographs will be invaluable when filing police reports or insurance claims in case of theft or damage.

Managing Home Utilities

Turning off water supply and draining pipes

Before embarking on an extended vacation or trip, it’s wise to turn off the water supply to your home and drain the pipes. This minimizes the chance of costly water leaks or pipe bursts while you’re away. Locate the main water shut-off valve in your home and turn it off. To drain the pipes, open all faucets (both indoors and outdoors) until water stops flowing, and flush all toilets. This precautionary measure can save you from potential water damage and the associated expenses.

Unplugging unnecessary electronics

To prevent energy waste and reduce the risk of electrical fires while you’re away, it’s important to unplug unnecessary electronics. Even when turned off, devices such as televisions, computers, and kitchen appliances can continue drawing power if left plugged in. Unplugging these electronics not only conserves energy but also mitigates the risk of power surges and potential damage caused by electrical faults.

Setting the thermostat to an energy-saving level

Maintaining your home’s temperature at an appropriate level while you’re away can bring significant energy savings. Adjust your thermostat to a slightly higher temperature in warm weather or a lower temperature in cooler months. Aim for a setting that balances energy efficiency with the preservation of furniture, plants, and other sensitive items. Programmable thermostats are particularly useful in scheduling temperature adjustments, ensuring optimal comfort when you return home.

Arranging for garbage and recycling collection

It’s important to avoid leaving bins or bags of garbage sitting outside your home for an extended period. Not only can this attract pests and create an unsightly appearance, but it also signals that the property is unoccupied. Coordinate with your waste management service to arrange for garbage and recycling collection during your absence. This way, your home remains clean, and you avoid drawing attention to your prolonged absence.

Informing the Proper Authorities

Notifying local police of the absence and providing contact information

Before leaving for an extended vacation or trip, it’s a good idea to notify your local police department of your absence. Provide them with your contact information and let them know the dates you’ll be away. Some police departments offer vacation watch programs where officers can periodically check on your property while you’re gone. This added layer of security can help deter criminals and provide peace of mind.

Registering with local vacation watch programs

In addition to informing the police, check if your local community or neighborhood has a vacation watch program. These programs often involve volunteers who keep an eye on homes in the area while the residents are away. Registering with such a program can provide an extra level of security, as volunteers can report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.

Providing emergency contact information to neighbors

Share your emergency contact information with trusted neighbors, allowing them to reach you or someone close to you in case of any emergencies or concerns. Provide them with a reliable contact number and any additional details they may need. Establishing open lines of communication between neighbors fosters a stronger sense of community, and they can act as a first point of contact should any issues arise while you’re away.

Informing home alarm monitoring companies

If you have a professional alarm monitoring service, make sure to inform them of your travel plans. Provide them with your contact information and inform them of any temporary changes, such as adjusting emergency contact details or authorized individuals who can access your property. This ensures that the monitoring company has updated information and can respond appropriately to any security breaches during your absence.

Securing Vehicles

Parking vehicles in a secure location

When going on an extended vacation or trip, it’s essential to consider the security of your vehicles as well. If possible, park your vehicles in a secure location, such as a locked garage, a well-lit driveway, or a monitored parking facility. This minimizes the risk of theft or damage and provides an additional layer of security.

Locking vehicle doors and windows

Before leaving, double-check that all doors and windows of your vehicles are securely locked. This simple precaution can help prevent break-ins and unauthorized access. Additionally, avoid leaving spare keys inside the vehicle or hiding them in obvious locations. It’s best to keep spare keys in a safe place within your home or entrust them to a trusted friend or family member.

Installing anti-theft devices

Installing anti-theft devices in your vehicles is an effective deterrent against thieves. Consider installing steering wheel locks, car alarms, GPS tracking systems, or immobilizers. These additional security measures make it more difficult for potential criminals to steal or tamper with your vehicles. Visible signs of anti-theft devices can also serve as a deterrent, causing thieves to think twice before targeting your property.

Disabling vehicles or removing batteries

Another option to ensure the security of your vehicles is to disable them or remove the batteries while you’re away. For vehicles equipped with immobilizers or kill switches, activating these features can prevent unauthorized use. If removing the battery, store it in a secure location to prevent damage or theft. These precautions help reduce the chances of vehicles being stolen or driven without authorization.

Having a neighbor occasionally move parked vehicles

To create the illusion of occupancy and deter potential thieves, ask a trustworthy neighbor to occasionally move your parked vehicles. This can give the impression that someone is still present at your home. Coordinate with your neighbor and provide them with keys to safely move the vehicles within your property or driveway. Remember to inform them about any installed anti-theft devices to avoid inadvertent triggering.

Monitoring Social Media Presence

Avoiding posting about the vacation on social media

While it may be tempting to share exciting vacation plans or post updates during your trip, avoid posting about your vacation on social media platforms. Broadcasting your absence publicly can alert potential burglars to the fact that your home may be unoccupied, making it an easy target. Exercise caution and wait until you return to share your vacation experiences with friends and family.

Refraining from sharing specific travel dates and locations

Similar to avoiding explicit references to your vacation, refrain from sharing specific travel dates and locations on social media. Broadcasting such information can make it easier for criminals to determine the exact timeframe of your absence. Instead, communicate travel details privately with trusted friends and family through more secure means of communication.

Disabling location services on mobile devices and social media apps

To maintain privacy and ensure your whereabouts aren’t easily accessible to others, disable location services on your mobile devices and social media apps. Location services can inadvertently disclose your location, allowing people to track your movements or deduce that you’re away from home. By disabling these features, you can protect your privacy and reduce the risk of potential security threats.

Only sharing vacation updates with trusted friends and family

If you choose to share vacation updates while you’re away, be selective about who you share them with. Limit sharing such information only with trusted friends and family members who are aware of your travel plans and can discreetly keep up with your adventures. This helps ensure that your information remains in trusted hands and minimizes the risk of it falling into the wrong hands.

Being Mindful of Home Appearance

Arranging for regular maintenance of the yard and landscaping

Maintaining the appearance of your home’s exterior can be an effective way to deter potential burglars. Before leaving for an extended vacation, arrange for regular maintenance of your yard and landscaping. This includes mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and watering plants. An unkempt yard can indicate that the property is vacant, while a well-maintained one gives the impression that someone is actively present.

Putting a vacation stop on newspaper and magazine subscriptions

An overflowing mailbox filled with newspapers and magazines is a clear sign that no one is home. Before your trip, place a vacation stop on your newspaper and magazine subscriptions to prevent them from piling up. Alternatively, ask a trusted neighbor to collect your mail and hold onto it until your return. This way, your home doesn’t appear unoccupied, reducing the risk of burglaries.

Having a neighbor collect any flyers or advertisements

Unwanted flyers or advertisements stuck on your front door or scattered in your yard can signal that your home is unattended. Ask a trusted neighbor to collect any such materials and dispose of them appropriately. This small gesture helps maintain the appearance of an occupied home and reduces the chance of attracting the attention of criminals.

Using light timers to create the illusion of activity

Leaving your home in complete darkness for an extended period can indicate that it’s unoccupied. Utilize light timers to create the illusion of activity. Set timers to turn the lights on and off at different times throughout the day, mimicking the patterns of regular occupancy. This strategy can make potential intruders think twice before targeting your home, as it appears that someone is present.

Preparing Emergency Plans

Creating a contact list of emergency numbers

Before embarking on an extended vacation or trip, create a contact list of emergency numbers. Include local police, fire departments, medical services, and your insurance company’s contact information. Have this list readily available in case you or someone checking on your property needs to access emergency services. Being prepared ensures a swift and appropriate response in the event of an emergency.

Ensuring smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly

The safety of your home should always be a priority, even when you’re away. Before leaving, ensure that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Test the alarms, change batteries if necessary, and verify that they are in good working condition. This precautionary measure provides critical protection against fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, safeguarding your property even during your absence.

Developing a fire escape plan

In case of a fire, it’s important to have a well-thought-out fire escape plan for your home. Share this plan with any house-sitters or trusted individuals who may be staying in your home while you’re away. Clearly mark emergency exits, optimize evacuation routes, and establish a designated meeting point outside the property. Regularly review and practice the fire escape plan to ensure everyone is prepared for any emergency situation.

Providing emergency contact information to a trusted friend or family member

It’s crucial to provide a trusted friend or family member with your emergency contact information and any relevant details about your trip. This includes your travel itinerary, contact numbers, and the address and contact information of your accommodation. In case of an emergency or if someone needs to reach you urgently, this trusted individual can be the point of contact and relay important information.

Home Insurance and Security Checks

Reviewing home insurance policy coverage

Before embarking on an extended vacation or trip, review your home insurance policy coverage. Ensure that your policy adequately covers your home and belongings in case of theft, damage, or other unforeseen events. Consider any necessary updates or additional coverage based on your travel plans. Understanding your policy details gives you peace of mind and allows you to take necessary precautions to protect your investment.

Checking and repairing any weak points in doors, windows, or fences

Inspect your doors, windows, and fences for any weak points or vulnerabilities before leaving for an extended trip. Seal any gaps, repair damaged locks or hinges, and reinforce entry points if needed. By addressing these weak points, you make it more difficult for potential intruders to gain unauthorized access to your property. Strong and secure entry points are essential for overall home security.

Testing and upgrading security systems if necessary

Before your trip, thoroughly test your security systems to ensure they are functioning properly. Check that all sensors, cameras, and alarms are in working order and that they’re properly connected to your monitoring service if applicable. If necessary, consider upgrading your security systems with newer technology or additional features to improve your home’s overall security while you’re away.

Checking outdoor lighting for functionality

Proper outdoor lighting is a key component of home security. Before leaving, check all outdoor lights to ensure they are functioning correctly. Replace any burned-out bulbs and make sure the lights are properly positioned to illuminate key areas around your property. Well-lit exteriors can deter potential intruders and provide added visibility, making your home less vulnerable to break-ins.

By following these comprehensive steps and implementing the necessary precautions, you can safeguard your home during extended vacations or trips. Taking the time to secure the exterior, enhance home security, protect valuables, manage home utilities, inform the proper authorities, secure vehicles, monitor social media presence, maintain home appearance, prepare emergency plans, and conduct home insurance and security checks will help ensure the safety and protection of your home and belongings. With these measures in place, you can enjoy your time away with peace of mind, knowing that your home is secure.