Keeping Your Home Safe and Secure During Vacation

Blog courtesy of the Missoula Organization of Realtors.

Most of us take pleasure in the relaxed pace summer provides and eagerly anticipate spending time away from home with family and friends. But failing to adequately prepare your home and property for your absence can prove costly—and make them a potential target for burglars. 

Don’t Let It Be You

Each year, there are more than 2.15 million burglaries, over 65 percent of which are residential break-ins, with the majority occurring in the peak vacation months of July and August.

Nine out of 10 home break-ins could be prevented if homeowners would take steps to burglarproof their homes.  The average cost of a burglary is $1,700 and can go up significantly from there depending on what sort of valuables you have. So, battening down the hatches could just be the answer to saving you thousands.

Readying Your Home

The best way to keep your home safe in your absence is to make it appear you are home, leaving no clues you’re actually away. Light, time and noise are your greatest weapons to accomplish this. Follow these tips along those lines to ready your home and keep it safe:

  • Ask someone you know and trust to keep an eye on your house.
  • Stop delivery of your mail and newspapers—or have a friend or neighbor pick them up for you.
  • Keep bushes and shrubs near your home’s entrance and walkway well trimmed. Overgrown shrubs provide easy camouflage for burglars.
  • Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to provide sound and illuminate the inside of your home.
  • Keep shades up and blinds and curtains open to make it appear you’re home.
  • Keep the outside of your home well lit. Burglars won’t go where they can be seen.
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed.
  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway, occasionally moving his or her car indicate your coming and going.
  • If you have one, leave the air conditioner on. A silent compressor on a hot day is a good indication you aren’t home.
  • Change the setting on your answering machine so it picks up on the first or second ring—or just turn down the ringer. A constantly ringing phone is also a good sign no one is home.

Many burglaries do not require the criminal to “break in”, so before you leave make sure that all of your doors and windows are locked.  This includes unplugging your garage door opener since and experienced burglar may know how to get the manufacturer’s codes.

Don’t make your home tempting–examine it from the street to make sure no valuables are within sight can also deter burglary. If a passerby can see your expensive artwork or electronics, so can a criminal.

Protecting Against Disaster

Protecting your home from electrical mishaps, fire and flooding while you’re gone is also important.

Before you leave, unplug everything but the refrigerator, freezer, and the lights and radios you have set on timers. Check to be sure the oven and stove, as well as small heat-generating appliances such as hair dryers and curling irons, are turned off.

If you’ll be away a week or more, turn off the water to your sinks, toilets, dishwasher and washing machine. Many a homeowner has returned home too late, only to find that an aged washing machine hose or dishwasher part has broken, flooding their home and causing hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage.

This not only requires costly repair, but can also raise the price of your homeowners or renter’s insurance.

Setting your hot water heater on the lowest heat setting possible will keep it functioning at a minimum level, while saving you money on your energy bills.

Insuring Your Home

Never leave home on your summer vacation without making sure you have adequate home insurance protection for your house and belongings. How much you need depends on the value of your home and its contents. Talk to a local homeowner’s insurance agent to find out exactly what type of policy you need and how much coverage is warranted, before you go.

Remember, increasing your home’s protection against intruders can save you money on your home insurance premiums. So take every precaution, and enjoy the savings! 

Prepare—and Enjoy!

Don’t let your home and everything you’ve worked so hard for become a target for burglary or disaster. You can prepare, relax and get away from it all…and then return to your home sweet home.