You've packed up your suitcase and booked your itinerary, but before you board the plane, take the time to protect your home while you're on vacation. July and August are popular vacation months, and not surprisingly, they're also the months when home burglaries peak.
To fully enjoy your trip, plan appropriate home security and maintenance with this checklist.
Inside the house
- Set timers on interior lights. This goes a long way in deterring burglars, who often look for crimes of opportunity. Don't allow your house to appear as if no one is home.
- Prevent power surges. You never know if a power surge can occur, so be prepared. Disconnect the computer, TV, stereo, and other electronics, or make sure they are plugged safely into a surge protector.
- Don't make telltale status updates. Never broadcast your location on Facebook or Twitter. Even if you think that it's only your friends or colleagues viewing your online profiles, it's safest not to leave any sort of opening for a possible burglar.
- Alert your alarm company. If you have an automatic security system in place, call your representative, announcing you'll be away from home for an extended period of time. Make sure the alarm is set properly when you leave.
- Secure valuables. If you don't already have your jewelry or other valuables in a safe deposit box, now might be the time to do so. Doing this also ensures that you don't leave out anything valuable in plain sight that a burglar might be able to see from a window.
- Set the HVAC. Set a programmable thermostat to lower your heat or air conditioning usage and remember to change the thermostat's battery.
- Protect your pipes. Make sure pipes in vulnerable areas such as attics, basements, and crawlspaces are insulated. In unusually cold weather, set your thermostat at 55 degrees or above. Ask a neighbor or trusted friend to stop by and check on the house and periodically turn on the faucets to ensure the pipes don't freeze.
- It might seem obvious, but double-check just to be sure. Lock all doors and windows.
Outside the house
- Arrange for lawn care. Have your landscaping tended to by a friendly neighbor or local service. Before you leave, trim tree branches that might allow access to a climbing burglar.
- Stop newspapers and mail. Stop mail and newspaper deliveries, or have them regularly picked up by a neighbor. Again, you don't want to easily clue in a burglar to your absence by the mounting newspapers on your doorstep.
- Plan some exterior lighting. Set these lights on timers as well, to deter burglars.
- Don't leave spare keys outdoors. Collect any hidden spare keys from around the exterior of your home. Remember, burglars know the most popular hiding places, like beneath mats and in potted plants.
- Lock the garage. Even if there is no entrance to your house from the garage, there's still a chance for numerous things to be stolen. Secure the door and any entrances to the garage.