The idea behind a successful summer vacation is simple: Relax, enjoy your trip, and put your worries on a back burner. That’s why the best vacations start with some simple planning before you even leave home.
Since all your focus is on fun, the last thing you should fret about is whether your home is secure while you’re gone. Here are some best – and worst – practices to put your mind at ease.
Do: Let the right people know
Friends, family, and neighbors are the first line of defense. Get their contact information, let them know when you’ll be gone and how you can be reached, and ask them to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.
If you’ve got a home security system, it’s easy to add sophisticated smart door locks that let you provide access codes to trusted neighbors, whether it’s to check on your home or to take care of your animals. In a pinch, you can also let them in from almost anywhere by using your smartphone.
Don’t: Alert everyone through social media
If you’re active on social media, it’s tempting to turn everyone green with envy by posting photos from the cool places you’re going. But that’s not the wisest course of action, since it’s essentially letting everyone know that no one is home.
Take the photos, but wait until you get home to share them. All of your social media followers will still be interested and envious.
Do: Use home security as your house sitter
In a perfect world, you’d find a trusted friend or relative willing to stay at your home when you’re gone. Even then, however, it’s unlikely that they’ll be at your home 24/7, and that still leaves gaps in your protection.
A home security system with burglar alarm monitoring is an easy alternative. It doesn’t just protect your home while you’re gone – it’s a “friend” that helps secure your home year-round, whether you’re home or not.
“Technology has revolutionized home security,” says Chris Johnson, Chief Strategy Officer at Brinks Home Security, one of the nation’s largest home security providers. “It doesn’t cost a fortune to install a system that protects your home, and you can also add smart-home devices that fit your lifestyle.”
Don’t: Fly blind while you’re gone
Cameras are one of the most popular additions for millions of homes. Home security systems with video cameras let you see what’s going on through live or recorded video from anywhere through your smartphone.
It’s not just about home security, however. Adding video to your home security system lets you:
- Keep an eye on kids who might be left at home with a long-term sitter while Mom and Dad enjoy the vacation.
- Check on teenagers who might be home alone. It’s not just about peace of mind; you’ll see who’s hanging out at the house, and get event-based alerts.
- Look in on pets at any time. It’s a good antidote for being homesick.
Do: Make it look like you’re home
It’s well known that burglars hate to work when there’s an audience. A survey of incarcerated burglars by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte reveals that 86 percent of burglars will do all they can to avoid running into an occupant.
One popular way to make it look like someone’s home – even though you may be half a world away – is to utilize smart home lighting. By using your smartphone to turn lights on and off at various times while you’re gone is a sure way to make a burglar wonder if someone’s home.
Don’t: Wonder who’s at the door
A favorite tactic for burglars is to simply ring the doorbell and see if anyone answers. If there’s no response, they may feel more comfortable about breaking in.
That’s why video doorbells are also becoming a popular addition for do-it-yourself burglar alarm monitoring. It’s simple:
- When someone rings the doorbell, you’ll be notified via smartphone wherever you are.
- Get a live view of who it is, with the built-in camera streaming footage directly to your phone.
- Use the doorbell’s two-way voice feature to find out what they want, and tell them to go away.
Since they have no idea that you’re not really home, they’ll generally head off in search of another target.
Do: Look into home security monitoring
Any top-rated home security system offers a choice between self-monitoring via mobile app or 24/7 professionally monitored home security. While many homeowners opt for self-monitoring (and save money by avoiding a monthly payment), it has some drawbacks – especially if you’re far away from home.
If you’re alerted to intrusion through your smartphone, it can present a problem if you’re in an area where smartphone coverage is spotty or non-existent. Think about the beach, a plane, a boat, or a rural area.
There’s also the issue of dialing 911. When you’re alerted to an emergency, 911 will connect you with authorities in the area you’re in at the time. So, if you’re on the beach in San Diego, you’re not in a good position to call for help if your home is in Chicago.
A highly trained monitoring professional is always available to summon help, even when you’re not. Specialists at a monitoring station quickly assess and verify the situation. They notify authorities immediately if necessary, and keep you informed until the alarm is resolved.
Do: Hide your valuables
Even if a burglar does enter your home, they’ll want to work quickly, especially if you have a professionally monitored security system. They’ll typically head to obvious places where you keep your valuables, such as the living room, master bedroom, or home office.
Make it harder for them to make a quick raid by storing or locking up your valuables. Store items such as money, laptops, jewelry, electronic equipment and so on, and move them to an unusual place – for example, high up in a kitchen cabinet or under a bed in a child’s room.
Don’t: Leave your property unprotected
Burglars aren’t the only potential threat while you’re gone. The first concern that comes to mind is a fire, but a leaking water heater or broken pipe can also cause thousands of dollars in damage if left unchecked.
A top-rated home security system will allow you to expand with leak and freeze sensors. Detection means the problem can be dealt with quickly, hopefully keeping the damage to a minimum.
Your vacation should be either relaxing or exciting, depending on your personal style. Following a few common-sense practices – and avoiding situations that might leave your compromised – will help keep your vacation on track.
Robert Ogle is a writer and editor with seven years of experience in the home security industry. He currently is Senior Copywriter at Brinks Home Security, a top provider of complete home security systems across the nation. Robert also focuses on smart-home technology trends, as well as the impact of disruptive innovation. Connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/robertogle/.