9 tips to protect your home while you’re away

Keep your home safe and secure using these simple tips

Image depicts group of people packing items into their vehicle

The anticipation of your much-needed getaway is exciting. But before you pack your bags, take a moment to consider your home’s security. There are many ways to keep your home safe while you’re away.

Let’s take a look at nine simple tips to follow before you leave:

Tip #1: Lock all doors and windows (including your garage door, pet door, and mail slot)
While this may seem like a simple thing to remember, approximately 30% of burglaries occur through an open or unlocked window or door. Before you leave, take a walk around your property to make sure your home is locked up tight. Look through your windows to ensure no one can spot expensive items. If you can see something valuable, move it, hide it, or secure it in some way. Also, remove any spare keys you have hidden outdoors.

Tip #2: Secure your valuables
Place all valuables in your home safe or in a safe deposit box while you’re away. Never leave anything valuable in plain sight. In fact, you may want to take some time to inventory the items of greatest value so you have a record of them in case something happens.

Tip #3: Unplug nonessential appliances and electronics
You never know when a power surge may occur (which can damage expensive electronic equipment and possibly cause fires). Disconnect your computers, TVs, or even your washing machine and dryer so they won’t be damaged while you’re away.

Tip #4: Share your itinerary with someone you trust
Consider giving your itinerary and updated contact information to a trusted friend or neighbor, or to your security company (if you use one). That way, if something does happen while you’re away, they can contact you immediately. If you have an alarm, set it properly as you leave your home. And if you own an alarm or home security sign, place it prominently in your yard; this may deter burglars from attempting to access your home.

Tip #5: Keep your house well lit — inside and out
Set your internal light timers to go off at various times of the day and in different locations so you give the illusion you’re home. If you have outdoor sensor lights, check to ensure they’re working properly. If your lights are controlled by “smart” technology, turn different lights on from wherever you may be. If you don’t have any of these things, simply ask a trusted friend or neighbor to turn on your lights while you’re gone.

Tip #6: Set up a “hold” or other way to collect your mail
If you’re planning to go out of town for a while, you can submit a Hold Mail request either online or at your local U.S. Post Office — they will “hold” your mail (or delay delivery) until you return. But if you don’t want to take this step, or you’re only leaving for the weekend, you should ask a trusted friend or neighbor to collect your mail and delivered boxes every day.

Tip #7: Don’t post about your trip on social media until you return
It’s fun to post pictures of your trip to share with friends and family; however, use caution. You may tip off a criminal that you’re not home — which could lead to trouble.

Tip #8: Prepare for storms or other weather conditions
If you’re out of town when you typically experience seasonal storms, prepare your home as you normally would. For example, inspect your gutters and downspouts to ensure they’re clear of debris and will drain water properly. Check your doors to make sure all weather stripping is intact. You may even consider securing your outdoor patio furniture before you leave.

Tip #9: Install a smart home security system
If you travel often, or just want to add an extra layer of security to your home, consider installing a smart home security system. These systems are designed to help you manage your home’s security using your computer, phone, or other mobile device. And there are many options available to help meet your specific needs — from thermostats to security cameras, and smart locks to doorbells. You can hire a professional company to install your system, or you can do it yourself. Once installed, if you forget to lock your garage door or turn down your thermostat, you can do so from anywhere.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it’s good to know your home is safe. Following these tips will help provide some peace of mind so you can relax and enjoy yourself while you’re away from home.

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