Vacation Tips: Protect Your Home

The holidays are a popular time for families to go on vacation, especially during Thanksgiving and Winter break. So you’re packed and ready for your trip, but before you go, take a few moments to make sure that your home is secure. The last thing you want to do while on vacation is to worry about your home security.

Inside the House

We’re going to start with the most obvious, protecting the interior of your home. It makes sense, right? You want to make sure that the actual space where you reside if the most safe. Here are some tips to secure your home interior:

  1. Set timers on interior lights. If a burglar is casing out your home or neighborhood, they’re going to notice when your lights are turned off for an uncharacteristically long time. This is a clear indicator that nobody is home, thus making your home a prime target for burglary. Install timers for your lights, interior and exterior, to make it appear like there’s someone home.
  2. Power surges. Before you go, disconnect all electronic devices including TVs, stereos, computers, appliances, etc. Or if you prefer, plug them into a good quality surge protector to prevent shortages. Power surges don’t just happen during a thunder storm, they can happen for a variety of reasons including a blown transformer or a nearby lightning strike. A home in Tottenville, New York nearly burned to ground due to a suspected power surge. Luckily, fire fighters were able to arrive on scene and put out the fire before the home was completely lost.
  3. Don’t publicize your absence on social media. Avoid broadcasting your location for all to see on social media, especially if you are going to be away from home for any extended period of time. You may as well wave a banner to would-be criminals that your home is vacant and open to burglaries. A Fontana, CA family’s home was burglarized after one of the family members posted that they’ve landed in Las Vegas.
  4. Alert your alarm company of your absence. This should be one of the top items on your to-do list before leaving. Call your alarm representative and notify them that you’re going to be away from your home for a period of time. Make sure the alarm is set when you’re gone.
  5. Secure valuables. Comb your home for any valuables and secure them is a safe location. Close your drapes or curtains so that criminals can’t peer through your home for easy targets. If you have any jewelry or other expensive items such as watches, small electronics, or valuable keepsakes, store them in a secure safe. The Security Nerd wrote an excellent article detailing different safes and which are the best safes to keep in your home.

Outside the House

Surprisingly, security outside of the home is almost as important as security inside the home.

  1. Arrange for lawn care. Don’t forget to maintain landscaping. Trim branches and remove any foliage that may pose a fire hazard to your property.
  2. Stop newspapers and mail. An overflowing mailbox may signify to others that no one is home. If this isn’t possible ask a trust friend or neighbor to retrieve your mail and hold it until you return.
  3. Install exterior lighting. Having a good lighting system around your home is one of the most cost effective security solutions. Plan your lighting to minimize dark areas which could serve as a hiding spots for burglars. Some lighting are activated by motion sensors while others can be set to timers.
  4. Don’t leave spare keys outside the home. As inconspicuous as it may seem, leaving a set of keys outside of your home is like leaving the front door wide open. Before leaving, bring all keys indoors or leave them with an entrusted friend or family.
  5. Lock the garage. Don’t forget to lock side gates and other points of entry before heading out for vacation.

Follow these steps to help secure your home when you and your family are out of town. Notify trusted friends and family before heading out to ask them to keep watch over your home and belongings.

Important Apartment Safety Checklist

You’re settling into your new apartment and finally unpacked the last moving box. After organizing and putting everything away, you’re probably surveying your new place and wondering if your belongings are safe. Here is an apartment safety checklist to ensure that you and your belongings are safe from theft and robbery.

Reinforce Sliding Doors

There are a few things you can do to secure your sliding glass door, which most apartments now feature. If you happen to live on the first floor of an apartment complex you’d want to pay extra attention to your doors and windows. First and foremost, keep the blinds closed when you’re not at home. You wouldn’t want anyone to get a good look inside your apartment to scope out any targets inside. A few other steps include:

  • Add an alarm sensor. Door sensors are a feature of home safety systems and will alert you whenever it opens.
  • Add window film. Most sliding doors are made of glass and can easily be smashed in the event of a robbery. Installing window film will prevent the glass from completely shattering when broken.
  • Add a rod or bar on the tracks. This will prevent the door from opening, whether by a little or not at all. This simple addition will save you a load of stress when you’re away.
  • Get a deadbolt lock. It’s a good idea to install extra locks on your door so that it’s harder for thieves to open.
  • Install a security camera.

Secure Your Windows

Although it’s pretty straightforward, don’t leave your windows open when you’re not in the area. First floor windows are one of the most common points of entry during a robbery.

  • Locks: Most windows already come with window locks, but you can beef up your security by adding more. Look into different window locks and barricades for added protection.
  • Window alarms. Similar to door alarms, window alarms will also notify you when the window is opened, even by a bit. Unfortunately, neighbors sometimes ignore the sound of breaking glass. Glass break sensors, in a similar fashion, will alert you if the window is shattered.
  • Prickly plants. Chances are that you won’t have too much control over the vegetation outside of your rental unit. But this doesn’t meant you’re not able to have them just inside. Having prickly plants and shrubs by your window can help deter robberies. A lot of robbers are opportunists and probably won’t go through the trouble of risking injury for a quick snatch and grab.

Meet Your Neighbors

Having a friend nearby goes a long way when it comes to keeping communities safe and secure. It’s always helpful having extra pairs of eyes to keep the lookout or to deter robberies before they happen. It also makes it much easier to discuss the various on-goings of the neighborhood and spread the word if anything happens. When moving into a new apartment building or condo, leave a note or letter on their door letting them know who you are.

Invest in a Safe to Store Your Valuables

Get creative with hiding places for your valuables such as passports, jewelry, cash, and other items. There are many different types and sizes of safes. Pick which one is right for you and make the investment.

Be Home Even if You’re Not

Many robberies happen when tenants and homeowners are out of town for an extended period of time. Making it look like you’re home, even when you’re not, is a clever way to deter robberies from happening when you’re not around. Installing times and setting your lights to specific times throughout the day will make it look like someone is home. Another clever, and really helpful, tool is to install a doorbell camera so that you can answer the door even when you’re not home. Setting the blinds to open and close automatically is also another way to trick would-be robbers from thinking that your place is vacant.

Get a Guard Dog

Not only are dogs man’s best friend, they also make excellent family guardians. Dogs have a natural inclination to protect not only their packs (their families) but also their territories. Always alert and aware of their surroundings, dogs will notify their owners of any strangers of intruders. Many dogs will also spring into action if anyone is foolish enough to break into their homes. Head over to our blog about guard dogs to read more, or read the following list.

  • Akita
  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweilers
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Boxer
  • Great Dane
  • Bullmastiff
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Chow Chow
  • Chihuahua

Simple Ways to Secure Your Home

Your home is your safe haven and should give you a peace of mind. According to the FBI, approximately 7 million property crimes occurred in 2019. Here are a few simple tips to secure your home.

Secure the Doors

Inspect all door locks. Better yet, change the locks when moving in to make sure there aren’t strangers out in the world with keys to your home. Install additional locks like dead bolts or a strike plate for added security. Additionally, invest in a video doorbell for extra security. Most video doorbells feature a mobile app for remote monitoring.

Lock Windows

First floor windows are one of the most common point of entries for burglars. Think about reinforcing your windows by installing window or glass break sensors. These typically are included in home security systems and chime or alert you when a window is opened. Add window bars or window security film to prevent entry. Furthermore, planting prickly plants outside the window makes it harder for would-be burglars to enter.

Install Ample Lighting

Good lighting can help deter burglaries and break-ins. Lighting up the landscape to minimize hiding spots will help protect your home. Install motion-activated lights and save money on an energy-efficient system like ones that are solar powered. Place lights around the exterior of the house, along pathways, on the driveway, and near the garage.

Reinforce the Garage

Next to the front door and windows, the garage is another popular point of entry for burglars. It often leads to valuable tools and equipment. Often times, homeowners neglect their garage door when covering home security. Secure the garage door with extra lights and set up a smart garage door opener. Cover the windows to hide the contents within and never leave the garage door open while unattended.

Install a Home Security System

A home security system is a one-stop shop for securing almost every aspect of your home. Monitor everything from a camera surveillance system to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Many home security systems are a feature of a smart home system which allows you to set timers, set automation, and monitor who enters and leaves the property. Install surveillance cameras and motion detectors for added security. Many come with night vision and have wi-fi capability.

Eliminate Hiding Places

Trim bushes, trees, and minimize spots around the property where trespassers could potentially hide. Contrary to popular belief, most burglaries occur during the middle of the day between the hours of 10AM and 3PM. Burglars like to enter your property when you are more likely to be gone at work. Don’t leave tools, ladders, or other goods on display around the yard. Add security signs and stickers to your property to let any would-be burglars know that your home is secured. Lock gates, tool sheds, garages, and other outdoor buildings.

Get a Safe

Decide what type of safe and the size you need to store your valuables or anything else you wouldn’t want intruders to get their hands on. A portable safe or an anchored safe offer different benefits. An added security feature for safes have redundant (multiple) locks.

Guard Dogs

Dogs not only make great family pets, they’re excellent guard dogs. Dogs are naturally inclined to protect their packs (you) and their territory (the house). They’ll alert you of any strangers approaching the property and may even deter any intruders once they come face to face with a guard dog. Many breeds are intelligent, alert, and loyal enough to be trained specifically for personal protection.

Do Your Research

It’s always a good idea to do your due diligence when moving into a new home. Make sure to check the local crime ratings in the area you’re thinking about moving to. Drive through the neighborhood before moving in to see how you like the area.