Going away on vacation may be the time we all look forward to each year but for the security-conscious individual it can also be a time of concern. Leaving your home unattended for long periods of time can significantly increase the risk of a chance break-in that goes unnoticed or a more organized attempt based on lack of activity around your property.
Fortunately there are a range of common-sense steps that can be taken that will significantly reduce the chances of your home suffering criminal attacks in your absence.
Check Your Insurance
Before you leave for your vacation, ensure that your household insurance policy is in good standing. This should ideally protect not just your property itself but also contents insurance so that any items that might get stolen or damaged can be easily replaced on your return.
For extended vacations, it may be a requirement for you to inform your insurer of your absence so they are aware of the increased risks involved.
Tell Your Trusted Neighbors
Do you live in a neighborhood with a “community” feel where you know and trust many of your neighbors? If so, having a frank discussion with them about your absence can be a wise move.
By alerting your neighbors, should any activity be observed in or near your property in your absence, neighbors will be more likely to raise the alarm and help to keep your home safe and secure from criminals rather than just assuming it is you or your family moving about the property.
Third Party Security Checks
Another beneficial tip is to leave a key and contact telephone numbers with a friend or family member that you trust. Ask them to be the first point of contact for any emergencies and provide their details to your immediate neighbors.
Furthermore, asking that individual to visit your property for a quick inspection twice a day (morning and evening) – or even house-sit while you’re away – helps to not only encourage activity around your home but also to spot any issues that may arise quickly.
A range of different timer devices are currently available and can help give the impression that your home is inhabited even while you’re away enjoying the sunshine.
For example it is possible these days to not only have lights that turn on and off randomly during the hours of darkness but to even make noises such as dog barks from time to time. All can serve to dissuade crime when a potential criminal is led to believe that your house in inhabited.
One tell-tale sign that can out you at a disadvantage when away is a potential build-up of mail. Depending on the design of your home, this pile of letters may be visible from outside, suggesting that the occupants are away and so break-ins may be easier.
There are a number of options available to avoid this issue. Firstly consider asking your trusted friend to move your mail to a hidden part of your home on their regular checks.
Secondly, the postal services in some countries will actually “hold” your mail at the post office which you can then collect on your return.
Lastly, a simple tool that can work well is to create a simple “screen” that camouflages post as it is dropped through your door. In one example we saw recently, the occupant had red curtains fitted over the inside of their door.
By placing a piece of red cardboard up against the window inside the property, mail that was delivered fell behind this cardboard but in front of the curtain. From the outside of the property – looking through the frosted glass of the door – mail was completely hidden from view as the cardboard “screen” perfectly camouflaged in front of the curtain.
Home Alarm Systems
Finally, for greatest peace of mind, you may want to consider installing one of the many effective yet low-cost home security systems. These systems can not only arm your home with a powerful alarm system should anyone try to gain entry but more so many of them also come with a number of CCTV cameras.
In the case of a successful break-in, these cameras can be tremendously helpful to the police both for identifying the criminals and for proving the legitimacy of any insurance claim you may make.
The best systems will even let you access them remotely from your laptop or smart phone, so you can rest easy while away being able to keep a close eye on your home even when you’re hundreds of miles away.
Ben Smith is an expert in home security and recently started a new blog at Home Security Geeks.