Did you know June is National Home Safety Month? Yeah, me neither. But it is, and such perfect timing! Since I’m sharing my epic road trip, I thought I might share the home security measures I take while traveling.
First of all, I do not understand why so many people post that they are going out-of-town or post photos of themselves on vacation. There have been so many times that I am scrolling through the pretty photos on Instagram and see that someone has posted a photo of themselves on vacation. That cute hashtag you’re using to tell me you’re in #Tulum or #Hawaii? Yeah, it also lets the burglar know you’re #nothomeforthenexttwoweeks.
Have you Googled yourself lately? Try it. Do you see those sites Spokeo, Intelius, White Pages, and My Life? I was able to find my street name on one website, and the street number and first letters of the street name on another website. It doesn’t take a genius to match them up, and then that not-a-genius thief now has my address. Luckily, I’ve moved and my current address isn’t showing up yet, but I know it’s just a matter of time. Oh, but wait, they have to know my full name to do the search you say? Well, I just searched for my social media handle/blog name along with my first name and I was able to find my last name, too. I didn’t even have to click within a website, just scrolled down the Google search results. It’s scary.
So for this reason, I do not announce my vacations on my blog, post my photos on Instagram or Twitter, and I do not check into a location on Facebook while I am traveling. It’s hard. I know. You want to brag. You want to show all your friends who are stuck at the office that you are out having fun, drinking a Pina Colada, soaking in the sun, or exploring a new city. But try to resist the urge.
Here are 15 security tips to keep your home safe while you are on summer vacation:
- Keep your travel plans a secret. If you wouldn’t announce that you’re going to Hawaii for two weeks to a room of strangers, then don’t do it on the Internet. I mean, did you not learn ANYTHING from Paris Hilton and the Bling Ring? Also, make sure your husband/wife/roommate/kids do the same.
- Hold your mail. The USPS will hold mail for up to 30 days and will deliver it to you when you return. You can even make the request online. Or ask a house sitter to bring in your mail everyday as it may alert a burglar that you aren’t home if the mail trucks skip your house every day. I pick my battles, and I have my mail held because I know I have a great alarm system.
- Pause newspaper deliveries. A pile of newspapers is a main clue that you are not home. Call and ask them to hold delivery, or ask your neighbor/housesitter to simply grab it in the morning. I like to take this route, I don’t like letting my newspaper deliverer know I’m gone.
- Ask someone to housesit. Even without mail deliveries or newspapers, you will still receive the annoying fliers that peddlers leave on your door. And what about that FEDEX or UPS delivery you forgot about, or a Yellow Pages book? Having someone check out the house every few days helps with the unexpected.
- Alert your neighbors that you will be out-of-town. Give them emergency contact information. If you have a house sitter, let the neighbors know about the house sitter so they don’t call the cops on your mom.
- Make your house look lived in. Have your house sitter take your garbage cans out to the street, and bring them back in. It makes the house look lived in as if everything is going as normal. Also, leave them a set of car keys and ask that they move the cars in your driveway into different positions.
- Have lights and sounds turn on and off. Use timers to turn lights on and off, also can be used on TVs and radios. Program them to match your usual pattern. For example, our lights usually turn off around 1am, so I made sure to program our timers to off at 1am. I use the Westek Daily Timer because they are inexpensive, and easy to use. Just don’t forget to flip the switch and turn ON the light before you leave. I recommend a practice run.
- Don’t close all your blinds and curtains if you normally leave them open. But do look at your house from the outside to see if any valuables are visible, and if so, move them into a safe place away from prying eyes.
- Mow the lawn. If you don’t have a regular gardener, make sure you do the yard work before you leave so the house doesn’t look neglected. And trim back any shrubs or bushes from windows. Thieves love the overgrowth that screens their movements.
- Light up dark areas. Use motion-sensor lights near your backdoor, garage, front door, driveway, etc. Check all the light bulbs and replace any that are burned out.
- Turn down the volume on your phone ringer so burglars can’t hear them ring, and ring, and ring. Same with any automatic alarm clocks, make sure you turn them off.
- Disable your automatic garage door opener by unplugging the power so thieves cannot open it with a universal remote. Also, check out this scary video about how easy it is to force open a garage door.
- Don’t make it easier for a burglar. Put away any ladders or other tools that can make the burglar’s job easier. And that plastic rock? It isn’t fooling anyone, take your spare key inside.
- Lock the doors and windows and set the alarm. It’s an easy one, but one that is usually forgotten. Also, it sucks when you’re 30 minutes away from home and you start wondering if you closed a window or locked a door.
- Did you leave your car at the airport? Make sure you remove your GPS that gives thieves a treasure map right back to you house.
Ok, so now you know how to protect your home, but do you know what you’re going to pack for your trip? Check out my road trip essentials guide!