What’s more fun than vacation? Easy; coming home to a house that’s still standing and still filled with your belongings in their rightful locations. In a world filled with criminals and those with ulterior motives, it’s often difficult to understand that anything you say and do and post online can alert the wrong people that you’ll be out of town. Your location settings can show the world you’re in a different location even if you don’t mention it. Checking into a location allows people to see that your home is empty. So how do you protect your home when you are away? Well, you can do what we did and install and expensive alarm system, security cameras and motion detectors that alert the police immediately if someone or something moves in our home and you can have a house sitter come over and stay while you’re gone (what? We like to keep things safe at home).
Or you can employ a few less expensive tips and tricks to help you keep your home safe when you are not there. Whether you are on vacation or just running to the store for a few minutes, you can keep your home safe from all kinds of things by taking our advice.
Get Yard Signs
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to keep your house safe is to find alarm company yard signs that will keep your house safer. Even if you do not have an alarm system, most burglars and criminals will not know this. In fact, they are a lot less likely to try and bother your home when they see the presence of these signs, too. They don’t want anything to do with your signs and your house if they think that there is even a chance that an alarm system is present.
Put the Spare Key Away
Many American homeowners make the decision to hide a spare key somewhere in case of an emergency. This might be under the mat, under a rock or even hidden somewhere a little more difficult for the common criminal to find. No matter how well you believe you hide your hide-a-key, put it away before you leave the house. Criminals have all the time in the world to find it when you’re out of town, so make it impossible.
Hold your Mail
Your mail is one of the first giveaways that you are not home. Your mail is going to pile up at your door or in your box and alert the criminals and creeps of the world of your absence. It’s free and easy to hold your mail. Just visit USPS.com and choose the hold mail option, enter your name, address, phone and email and choose the dates of your absence. You can even have your delivery person deliver your accumulated mail upon your return so you need not go pick it up.
Keep the Lawn Clean
One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make when traveling is leaving their yard unattended and allowing it to overgrow. While some might assume this is just a sign of laziness, others might take note that your yard always looks spectacular and assume you are out of town thanks to overgrown grass or snow piling up around the house. Get someone to keep your yard for you if you are gone a significant amount of time.
Make Noise and Turn on Lights
Dimmers, timers and all things that make you look as if you are home are great to have when you are traveling. It’s a good idea to keep some timers on your lights and even on your television if that will help your neighbors and any potential criminals in the area assume you are home.
Keep Your Mouth Shut and Your Statuses Empty
Do not tell anyone you are leaving town, and do not post it on your social media accounts. It’s tempting to want to post photos of yourself in Hawaii having a great time – I’ve done it – but hold off until you get back and then create an album so that you’re home and your house is not vacant for just anyone to enjoy.
Unplug Your Devices
Fires tend to occur in the most innocuous locations, and that includes your appliances and devices. When you are gone, unplug them. Even if they are turned off, it’s just much safe to have them unplugged and out of reach than it is to leave them plugged in where they become a potential fire hazard. Give yourself a little peace of mind with this simple solution.
Get a House Sitter or Have Someone Stop By
We love to have a house sitter in our home. When we leave town, we have someone come stay in our house. We like the idea that someone is here, that things are being lived in and that we won’t come home to the smell of a closed up house when we return. This is a free service – or at least it could be if you have a friend or family member willing to stay in your home for you.
Alert Your Alarm Company
The alarm company doesn’t need to know that you are not home, but it’s a good idea to let them know you are not home. This allows them to keep a closer eye on your home, and it allows them to know ahead of time if there is an alarm in your house, it’s probably because something is going on that should not be going on. Let them know; you’ll be glad you did.
If you cannot afford a security system, at least deter potential criminals with what looks like a security system. We already discussed using signs, but you can also install faux security cameras around your home that will deter anyone from coming onto your property for reasons that are not appropriate. This is going to keep people away and give you a sense of peace and calm. That is priceless.
Photo illustration by George Frey/Getty Images