Now that we’ve all binged every Netflix, Hulu, and HBO series in our queues, perfected the art of sourdough breadmaking, and can now assemble 1,000-piece puzzles in 15 minutes, it’s finally time to get out of the house and go on those postponed vacations we’ve been dreaming about. As you hustle to get out the door, however, don’t forget about taking necessary measures to secure your home and property while you’re away. Take a look at our checklist of precautions to ensure that your home is not an easy target for would-be intruders.
Inside the House
- Set timers on interior lights – Someone watching your home for signs of life will be far more wary of attempting access if they notice interior lights coming on and turning off throughout evening hours, rather than lights that stay on constantly throughout the day. Setting timers on lamps throughout your home can help give the illusion of movement and life inside the home. Think about draperies and blinds, too. Nothing says “Vacant Home!” quite like one that is completely shuttered closed–especially if that is not normally the case. Consider either leaving blinds partially opened, or asking a trusted friend to stop by and open and close window treatments on a regular basis.
- Alert your alarm company – If you have a security system in place, be sure to notify the company of the intended dates of your absence so that they can flag your home for any unusual or suspicious activity. (While you’re at it, alert your credit card company and/or bank that you will be traveling so that they can set up a travel plan, and your charges will not be flagged as fraudulent or denied).
- Secure valuables – No one wants to assume the worst, but if an intruder did manage to break into your home what would you most want to protect? If possible, secure these items in a hidden lockbox or safe. If cars are left in the garage, be sure to hide the keys where they will not be found. Do not leave laptop computers and other small electronic devices in easily accessible places.
- Set-up HVAC monitoring – The rising popularity and increasing availability of programmable thermostats makes it easier than ever to control and monitor your home’s HVAC systems while you’re away. Even the simplest models enable temperatures to be preprogrammed by date and time; more elaborate models permit remote access through mobile devices, allowing the user to control home systems from afar. Why pay for conditioned air–warm or cold–when no one is in the home to benefit from it? Keeping the home at a slightly warmer or cooler-than-comfortable temperature (depending upon the season) saves both energy costs and wear-and-tear on your home’s equipment. Be careful. however, not to swing too far in either direction, as pipes can freeze in the winter, and pantry goods melt in the summer.
- Check doors and windows – A quick check of windows and doors to verify that they are locked prior to departure gives peace of mind, enabling you to relax while on vacation. It’s not a bad idea to disconnect the power supply to the electric garage door opener, as thieves have been known to hack the electronic signals used to remotely open garage doors, thereby gaining direct access into the home.
Outside the House
- Stop newspapers and mail – In the hubbub of travel prep it’s easy to forget about managing the everyday minutia while you’re away. Piles of newspapers, advertising flyers, and packages amassing at your door announce a loud and clear, “Nobody’s home!” Ask a neighbor to watch the house and pick up stray flyers. As far as mail and deliveries go, a quick visit to the USPS website allows you to set up a scheduled hold for mail and parcels. You can even schedule this far in advance–long before you start to feel the panic of last-minute travel jitters.
- Arrange for lawn care – Another sure sign to someone looking for an easy break-in target is an unkempt lawn and yard. Don’t cancel regularly-scheduled yard services while you’re away, or hire someone to come if you don’t.
- Don’t leave spare keys outdoors – You may think you have the safest, most secure hiding place for a spare key, or that your neighborhood is the safest, most secure in the area, but when it comes to home security–better safe than sorry. Do not leave a hidden key outdoors. Leave a copy of your house key with a trusted friend or neighbor.
- Lock the garage – As stated above, consider disconnecting the electric garage door opener from the power supply, but don’t forget to also secure garage service doors (those doors between garage and back or side yard) and the door from the garage into the house, If you have windows in your garage, make sure those are locked, as well.
- Don’t announce your plans on social media – We live in a world obsessed with sharing life experiences online. Whether you like to hang out on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or one of the many other social media outlets available, resist the temptation to share vacation plans or even experiences until you return home. When you chronical your dream Disney vacation in real time, you’re also telling the world that your home is vacant for the week.
- Leave a car in the driveway – Parking a locked car in the driveway tends to deter would-be intruders, as it implies that someone is home. Better yet, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway while you’re away, so that the car will come and go periodically.
When the vacation is over and thoughts turn to home once more, remember that Sheffield has been building homes in the Denver metro area and in northern Colorado for more than forty years. Whether you need more space for a growing family, or you’re looking to downsize for retirement (so you can travel more!) we’ll work with you to build a home that’s perfect for you. Sheffield Homes: Colorado Roots–Customer Driven. Call us today, 303-420-0056.