There are a million things to remember before leaving on vacation and, in the midst of tracking down sunscreen and squeezing in that last outfit (you never know what you might need!), it’s easy to give home security short shrift.
But don’t despair – we’ve come up with the ultimate vacation preparation checklist to ensure your home and belongings remain just as you left them while you’re out on the beach working on your tan or hitting the slopes in Aspen.
No matter where you go this holiday season, here’s how to keep your house or apartment safe and sound.
Admit it, you’ve wanted eyes in the back of your head ever since your mom bragged about hers. With remote monitoring you’ll do your mom one better by keeping any eye on every nook and cranny of your home, no matter where you are. Vivint offers fixed or pan and tilt video cameras that allow you to stream live video or review recorded clips right from your smart phone or other mobile device. As long as you’ve got the Internet, you’ve got a link to your home.
And remote monitoring doesn’t stop with cameras; with lighting and appliance control and remote locking features you can even fulfill those OCD tendencies and triple-check that all the doors and windows are locked, the lights are off and, yes, even that the iron is unplugged.
Get Rid of Hidden Spare Keys
Take away spare keys while you’re out of town. No matter how clever you think you are, serious crooks have already been there and done that when it comes to getting into your home and availing themselves of your hard-earned belongings.
Let the ne’er-do-wells know your home isn’t one to mess with. Yard signs from your security company make a bigger difference than you think, but beware of using fake security signs as they may work against you if spotted by a savvy burglar. And don’t close the blinds or drapes on every room, keep things like they normally are. Blocking the view into your house can work in a bad guy’s favor, allowing him privacy while he makes himself at home. Exterior lights and cameras also deter crooks looking for the perfect place to plunder.
A house that looks lived in is less likely to become a target, so use home automation and timers to make your house come to life while you’re getting a massage or scuba diving in the tropics. Set timers on lights and noise producing appliances like radios or TVs to give the appearance that someone is coming and going. With Vivint home automation, you can even remotely turn the lights on and off as suits your fancy. Make sure your timers are random and come on and off in an unpredictable pattern from day to day in order to keep potential poachers on their toes.
Stop the Mail and Newspaper Delivery
Nothing is a bigger giveaway that you’ve split town than newspapers and/or mail piling up in front of your house. It’s easy to contact your newspaper and have them put delivery on hold during the dates of your vacation. And the post office can hold your mail for you when you’re out of town and all you have to do is go in to pick it up when you return and let them know to resume your delivery.
Prepare for Any Weather
Regardless of where you live, there is always the unpredictable risk of temperamental weather to contend with. Take a look at your yard, patio and other exposed areas on your property before packing your suitcase. Secure any items that could run amok given a hefty gust of wind. If you live in a cold region and are vacationing in the winter you need to protect your pipes from freezing; insulate exposed pipes and leave a tap trickling to avoid a burst pipe if the temperature suddenly drops while you’re away. There are even leak detection systems that can alert you in the event of a leak.
As previously mentioned, using home automation devices is a good way to keep burglars away, but don’t forget that your energy bill is just as capable of robbing you while you’re out of town. To mitigate unnecessary energy costs, you might also want to consider unplugging high energy consumers that do not need to stay plugged in, like the 70” plasma TV; it also protects these items from the havoc of power surges that might occur while you’re basking in the sun. And with an affordable Vivint energy management package you can even take remote control of your thermostat so you can make sure that the house isn’t as warm as your beachside bungalow.
Take Care of the Yard
Even if you stop the mail and don’t have newspapers piling up on the front step, accumulating snow or leaves, and overgrown hedges are just like leaving a calling card for potential thieves.
Call In a Favor
Remember when you kept an eye on the Jones’ house last spring? It’s time for them to return the favor; ask a trusted neighbor to pay attention to your home while you’re away. If you can afford it, and have someone willing, a house sitter is even better. Although, remote monitoring from a home security leader like Vivint is like having a virtual house sitter at your beck and call 24/7. With the right security and/or home automation package you’re never in the dark because your cameras, thermostats, lighting, locks and more are all just a touch away on your smart phone, laptop or other web-enabled device.
What’s on your must-do list before heading off on vacation?
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more