To the Harrys and Marvs of the world, vacation periods are a ripe time for theft. It won’t matter if it’s summer vacation or the holiday travel season. You’ll be out, and they’ll be looking for those telltale signs that a house is empty.
Stacked mail or newspapers? Check.
A pause in regularly scheduled home maintenance? Check.
No lights on at any time of day? Check.
Congratulations, you’ve opened up your home to burglars.
Vacations are usually much needed, though many Americans leave days on the table, studies show. In fact, 52 percent of employees reported having unused vacation days at the end of 2017, the U.S. Travel Association found.
And the days leading up to that vacation are typically pretty hectic. You’ll want to finish that big project at work before you go. You’ve got to get everything for the house in order. You want to make sure you have everything you need — clothes, medications, passports, etc. — packed for the trip.
In fact, you may get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle that you forget about the small things, like leaving presents in a car during the holidays or leaving doors or windows unlocked. That’s why our Kinetic by Windstream team has put together these tips on how to protect your home while you’re on vacation — even if it’s just a mini one:
1. Don’t Leave Items Unattended
This one may be obvious, but here’s a reminder just in case: don’t leave your items unattended. That includes purses in the grocery cart and leaving your trunk open as you’re going back and forth from the house to pack up your luggage.
Don’t forget your packages! Boxes left outside your home can easily be swiped while you’re away. If you’re waiting on something particularly valuable to be shipped to your home, arrange to pick it up at a carrier’s location, or know when your packages arrive with video doorbells, like Ring.
And, most importantly, don’t leave a copy of the key to any of your home’s entryways outdoors. It’s better to leave a spare with a trusted neighbor, friend or family member.
2. Add a Few Extra Eyes on Your Home
Getting a few extra eyes on your home can easily deter thieves, too. If you’re going to be out for an extended period of time, ask a trusted neighbor or friend to pop in to your home every now and then to ensure everything is OK. They can also collect your mail, any of your subscriptions and any other shipments. (This will make it appear as though someone is home.)
Here’s where we’re also going to plug in the home security system. One study found that about 60 percent of convicted burglars said a security system influenced their decision to target another home. Have a security system already? Don’t forget to prominently place those yard signs or stickers showing your home is protected. That alone can act as a real deterrent.
If not, don’t fret. There are a number of things you still can do, including getting a complete smart home security package, like those from Nest or Honeywell. If you aren’t ready for a full implementation, try indoor or outdoor cameras, sensors and lights. Many of these also come in a smart technology format.
3. Put Your Lights on a Timer
Before smart home technology was ever a thing, there were light timers. Folks would place lamps or other forms of lighting on a timer so as to appear home when they actually weren’t. These will range in pricing and capabilities, but the gist of many is that you’ll be able to set when your lights go on and off, and for how long they might stay on. With the advent of smart home tech, though, there are now also smart lights, such as Phillips Hue and C by GE. Like any other smart devices, you can control these from your phone, as long as you have an Internet connection! That allows you to truly randomize when your lights are on and when they’re not.
4. Check Your Cords and Electrical Outlets
Before you head out for your vacation, take a look at all the cords you’re keeping plugged in and make sure they are intact. Frayed cords can lead to electrical shock or even may spark a fire.
You may want to go ahead and unplug your electrical appliances that you won’t be needing and may find that you’ll save a few bucks over the length of your vacation! Or, if you completely forget, invest in some smart plugs beforehand, and you’ll be able to turn whatever’s plugged into those on or off when you please!
5. Remember Any Seasonal Needs
Summer is the season for burglaries and theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. And, among the many things that can help is basic lawn care. Trimming hedges can help rid any hiding spots in your yard, and upkeep of these regularly scheduled activities — like hiring a landscaping company or cleaning company — even when you’re away can help vacation-proof your home.
For the winter, don’t forget all your heating devices. If you’re opting for a cozy fire, don’t forget to inspect your chimney, give it a good sweeping if needed and open the flute. If you’re using a space heater, take the necessary precautions like placing it on a level, nonflammable surface, never leaving it unattended and ensuring that it’s placed far enough away from any flammable materials (including a real pine or fir tree that you may not be watering enough).
The National Fire Protection Association reported that 15 percent of all home fires from 2011-2015 stemmed from heating equipment, and the most common type of equipment involved were space heaters.
And, should anything go wrong, make sure that all of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are up to speed. You’ll likely hear a chirping sound if either device is in need of new batteries, or spring for a smart smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm, like Nest Protect, which can give you early warnings, phone alerts and control when you’re away!
Use these home safety tips before you head out for your vacation! And, remember that with a growth in always-connected devices, like smart home technology, you’ll want a robust connection, like that of Kinetic Gig, that can give you unlimited high-speed Internet to power them all at once. Learn more about what Kinetic Gig can do for you, or see if it’s available in your area!