Dos and Don’ts to Safeguarding Your Home While on Vacation

“We live on the most boring street in the whole United States of America, where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen.”

– Buzz McCallister, Home Alone

Over the course of this summer, half of the American population are setting their emails to “out-of-office,” packing their bags and embarking on vacations. While you’re jotting down a list to remember everything from sunscreen to passports, we have prepared a list that will help prep your home for security while you are away. Even if you think you “live on the most boring street in the whole United States,” following these tips will help you feel better about leaving your home.

DO:

1. Hire a trusted house sitter

Investing in a house sitter or having a neighbor get your mail is worth the extra expense if any. It’s another set of human eyes checking in on your home. The main goal here is to make your house look occupied. Activity in the house is your best bet for unwanted burglars, as we all learned quite well from the film Home Alone, when Kevin McCallister cleverly set up the living room to look like a dance party.

2. Schedule work to be done

With summer comes to yard work. Take advantage of your time away by scheduling landscapers or lawn mowers to come to your house. Again the goal is to make the house look normal as if you were home.

3. Unplug

Did you know there are universal garage door openers? Thieves use these to gain access to your home through your garage easily, so while you’re unplugging on the beach, make sure to unplug the power to your garage door completely to avoid unwanted guests.

4. Invest in a home security system

Great home security starts with a company that will show a genuine concern in providing you with solutions that fit your needs. They will avoid upselling you on unnecessary equipment, and will not pressure you into spending more than you budgeted or hit you with hidden fees, policies, or other annoying surprises after you’ve signed a contract.

5. Power up

If you have security cameras, make sure they are all on and plugged in. Test them from your mobile device to be sure. It’s also smart to leave on your AC. The hum will deter burglars and the bonus is coming home to a cool house where your plants didn’t wilt and your chocolate didn’t melt.

DON’T:

1. Do not rush leaving the house

We know you can’t wait to get your toes in the sand, but don’t rush getting out the house. Give yourself time to double-check the locks on all the doors, windows and gates.

2. Do not overshare on the internet

If your social media is public, do not give away any details of your trip such as the dates you will be away or where you are. Broadcasting your whereabouts and whereabouts online is tempting, but it can wait until you return.

3. Do not leave on the lights

This is a long debated strategy. Some people feel lights make it look like people are home, but skilled burglars know to look for light patterns, so if the same lights stay on over the course of several days, they will catch on. The best solution would be to set light timers if you’ve equipped your home with them. They are affordable and easy to install and usually can be controlled with a phone app as well. Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, and Walmart all have several solutions you can browse to best suit your style and needs.

4. Do not leave your hide-a-keys out

Plain and simple, this one is a no-brainer, even if you think you found the best hiding spot.

5. Do not leave your valuables in plain sight

Any valuable or sentimental items should never be in plain sight. Safes are pretty inexpensive and compact. Not only do they hide your belongings but some can also protect them from fire or flood. If you do not have a safe, you can always try to secure your treasures somewhere inconspicuous, like a cardboard box in the basement labeled “Christmas Ornaments.”

There is always a possibility that something could go wrong while you’re away, so it’s best to be prepared ahead of time. Knowing the ins and outs of your home insurance policy is important to understanding what added protection you have before leaving for a trip. We recommend always keeping an updated home inventory list, especially of big purchases, collectibles, and heirlooms.

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Shannon Lewandowski
Shannon Lewandowski
Shannon heads up the IoT initiative on the Innovation & Digital team. She’s a smart “tech guru” - passionate about finding ways to protect insureds’ homes!