One of the best parts of the holidays is the opportunity to travel. For some families, that means driving a few hours away to visit other friends and family members in Galveston, Corpus Christi or even farther onto Dallas. Whether you’re gone for a full week or just a couple of days, these trips are packed with holiday fun without having to board a plane.
But for others, the holidays are a time to take a much-deserved vacation. While finding a warmer climate may not be so important, a holiday vacation is a time to get away from all of your obligations: work meetings, conferences and PTA meetings. Whether you prefer to spend your time skiing or relaxing by a beach somewhere, these types of vacations can be just what’s needed to get you reenergized and ready to head back to work.
When you go away for a holiday vacation though, who is looking after your house? As we’ve said before, your home is your biggest investment, and if you don’t protect it while you’re away, your home could be damaged in a storm or even burglarized.
The holidays are a time to relax. Don’t add stress to your holiday vacation by not protecting your home. Here are our top holiday home safety tips to keep your house protected while you’re away.
Indoor holiday home safety tips
When you’re gone for the holidays, your home is vulnerable to break-ins. Most burglars are looking for the home of least resistance. If there’s an easy way in or out of your home, a burglar will happily take advantage of an unlocked door or a garage that’s been left open. But if getting in or out of your home seems difficult, most burglars will move on and look for an easier target. Burglars, of course, don’t want to get caught, so the fewer barriers to your home, the less likely it will be that the burglar will get caught.
Before you leave, make sure you follow these holiday home safety tips.
Lock all doors and windows
Sounds obvious, right? It should be, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to lock all their doors and check their windows. Many burglars will try a door at random and find it unlocked, practically inviting them in. Even windows and doors can be easy entry points.
Before you head out on your holiday vacation, walk around your home and lock all of your windows. Try pulling on them to make sure they’re secure in place. If you need additional security, try securing safety bars on the top of your windows to stop anyone from trying to pull up on your window. These bars can also be used between sliding doors and windows to stop anyone from sliding the window or door open.
Don’t forget to check windows on your top floor as well. If there’s a way to access your second floor, then burglars will notice it as well. Knowing that some homeowners think it’s not worth it to lock windows on the second floor, a burglar might give them a try.
You should also check your windows and doors for potential air leaks or rain leaks. The weather won’t stop while you’re away, so check your windows and doors for potential leaks. If you feel a draft around your windows and doors, that means warm air is escaping from your home, which will drive up your energy bill while you’re away. You also want to make sure that water isn’t getting into your home.
Set a timer on your lights
While you’re away, your goal should be to make it look as if someone is home. You don’t have to go all-out like Kevin McCallister with the cardboard cut-outs in Home Alone, but making it look like someone is home or at least around will deter most burglars. It’s also easier to break into a house if it’s dark, so turning on lights here and there will also be a deterrent for most burglars. Remember, burglars want the easiest job possible, and if they have to worry about running into someone in your home, they’ll look for an easier target.
Inside of your home, you can set your lights on timers to go on and off and certain times of the day. Head to your preferred home improvement store and pick up a smart lighting timer. They can be plugged into any wall and will connect to your phone. Plug in a lamp and set up a timer to turn the lamp on and off.
If you have other smart lighting products in your home, you can control them remotely from your phone. Switch lights on and off every night to give the illusion that someone is home.
HIde or lock up your valuables
Here’s one of the simplest holiday home safety tips: Put your electronics, jewelry and other expensive belongings away.
You will probably take your phone with you on vacation, but you’ll probably leave behind laptops, tablets and video game systems. These items don’t need to be locked in a safe, but they should be kept away from windows where anyone passing by could see them.
If you have your valuables laying out, they can tempt a burglar and make it worth his or her while to risk breaking into your home. Electronics are especially valuable because they have a high resale value, so if you have a tablet and laptop laying out near a window, a burglar might rationalize that it’s worth the risk to break into your home. Don’t give a burglar that option.
Park a car in your driveway
Nothing says “I’m home” like a car in the driveway. Leaving a car in your driveway will usually deter most burglars because seeing a car almost always means that someone is going in and out of the home. For most burglars, that’s a sign to keep on moving.
If you do leave your car in your driveway, make sure it’s locked. Again, you’d be surprised how many people ignore this of all the holiday home safety tips and leave all their doors unlocked — and sometimes with the keys inside. Lock up your car and put away any valuables in your car such as a GPS or other electronics.
You can also offer up your driveway to your neighbors while you’re away. They might have company over while you’re away, so they would appreciate the extra space. This also means that people will be walking around your house and will notice if anything looks off. Having a few extra eyes on your property can’t hurt.
Set your security system
If you have a security system in your home, set it up so it’s ready to protect your home when you leave.
Home security systems can be expensive, so if you’re not willing to make a big investment, consider a Ring video doorbell. These doorbells cost about $100 — not free by any means, but less than a full system — and it will record any movement it detects close to your front door. You can get alerts on your phone and watch recordings. If something looks amiss, you can contact the police immediately.
Turn off water and turn down heat
Burglars aren’t the only thing to worry about when you’re away. You don’t want to come home to a flooded basement or broken pipes, so before you leave, turn off your water supply if you’re going to be gone for more than a week and set your thermostat to 55 degrees.
If you’re going to be gone for an extended trip, there’s no reason to have your water running. If the temperature dips too low in your home, your pipes might burst with water in them, causing a massive flood in your home. Water flooding your home not only causes structural damage, but it could also lead to a mold infestation. Mold needs damp, dark spaces to thrive, so without anyone attending to it while you’re away, you could come home to a serious mold problem.
Set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees to stop any pipes from freezing. You need to keep your heating system moving while you’re away, but you don’t want to heat home when no one is there to enjoy it.
Avoid broadcasting your plans on social media
It can be hard to keep yourself under control when you’re excited to go on a trip and want to tell everyone about it, but before you post photos of packed luggage, stop. More and more burglars are using social media to determine when people will be out of town. If you broadcast vital details about your trip on social media, there’s a chance someone could use that information against you, especially if your account isn’t fully private.
Instead, wait until you get home to talk about your trip on social media. You can talk about your trip to your heart’s content and share all photos you like — after your trip.
If you do want to tell someone about your trip, tell the neighbors you trust that you’ll be out of town. Let them know when you’ll be gone and if you have any lights you plan on turning on and off. Knowing this information, your neighbors will notice quickly if there’s someone around your property.
Outdoor holiday home safety tips
Now that the inside of your home is secure, it’s time to secure the outside of your home with these holiday home safety tips.
Lock your garage side door and close the garage door
It can be easy to overlook the side door leading into your garage, and burglars know this. Even if the door from your home to your garage is locked, burglars can still find something to steal in your garage. You may have valuable power tools or even sports equipment like bikes stored in your garage, and all of these have a good resale value.
Double check that these side doors are locked, and of course, don’t forget to close your garage door.
Set up motion detector lights
Motion detector lights can be a valuable tool to deter burglars and scare them away. Most burglars can’t tell if an outdoor light senses motion or not, and they won’t find out until they get close enough to set them off. The sudden light is usually enough to scare off most burglars or even alert your neighbors to suspicious activity going on near their own homes.
You can find motion sensored lights at any home improvement store. Look for bright flood lights and install them near doors not easily visible from the street, such as your backdoor or your garage side door.
Check your gutters
Before you head out, check your gutters to make sure they’re not clogged. Clogged gutters can lead to a number of issues, and all that trapped water can spill out and damage your roof. A damaged roof can also lead to holes where pests can get in. You don’t want to come home to broken gutters, so it’s best to clear them out before you leave.
Drag out your ladder and take a look at your gutters to make sure they’re clear. If you notice some leaves and twigs that can be taken out easily, clear them while you’re up there. If you find a bigger problem, call an expert in gutter cleaning services right away to get the problem taken care of.
Holiday vacations are the perfect time to rest and relax. The last thing you want to worry about is coming home to a damaged home or even one that’s been burglarized. If you follow these holiday home safety tips, then you’ll find you spend less time worrying about your home and more time enjoying your break from your regular life.So share with us: What are your best holiday home safety tips? How do you plan to keep your home safe while you’re away? Share with us in the comments