Must-dos for homeowners leaving on vacation
It’s the perfect time to plan a getaway. Whether it’s for a couple of weeks or just a few days, your safety has to be a priority. You’ve chosen a safe destination, checked out your hotel online, and packed your sunscreen. But have you thought about what you need to do to keep your home safe while you’re away?
The excitement of going on vacation tends to make people forget about doing the simple preventative measures that better secure their homes while they’re gone. Some people worry about unlocked doors, fires, water damage while away. They may get an unpleasant surprise when they return home.
Preventing Home Burglaries
The most common threat to vacationing homeowners is burglary. The best way to discourage burglars is to make breaking into your home seem like one hassle after another, from the street to the house, and once inside.
In most cases, burglars take just 2 or 3 minutes to break in. If it looks like you’re home, they probably won’t try.
- Ask a neighbor to use your garbage cans, park his or her car in your driveway, and pick up flyers
- Have Canada Post hold your mail
- Stop newspaper delivery
- Have someone shovel or sweep your walk and driveway
- Keep the car in the garage and close the door, while loading luggage
- Inside your home, connect lamps and radios (tuned to a station with call-in shows) to multiple timers set to mimic your usual patterns
- Adjust your telephone ring to its lowest volume setting
- Close drapes in rooms where valuables are visible from outside
- Don’t broadcast your plans, to colleagues or on Facebook and other social networks
- The grounds:
Did you know that in 1 of 3 thefts, the burglar got in through an open or basement window?
- Remove anything that could give burglars a leg up, such as ladders and trash cans
- Trim trees and shrubs that provide a hiding place or mask entrances and windows
- Turn on lights that increase visibility at strategic points such as entries and pathways. Solar lights tend to be too dim so use 120-volt lighting and set these up with motion detectors or timers to decrease energy consumption
- Don’t hide your house key under the doormat. It makes getting in easier for neighbours, and robbers too
- Entry points:
It takes moments for a robber with a screwdriver to quietly jimmy the tongue out of a door’s faceplate.
- Install single cylinder deadbolts
- Put "window stops" on first-floor and basement window frames. The best ones go through a moveable frame and lock it into place. The Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests that for double-hung windows, you drill a downward-angled hole through the first sash and about halfway through the second. Also, they suggest immobilizing windows by inserting a large pin into the hole, and for sliding windows, securing a pin through the two sashes. Place a length of wood in the tracks
- Sliding windows and doors often have built-in anti-lift and anti-slide features. You can also place a pipe or solid bar of the same length in the middle bottom track of the door slide
- Display an alarm company's protection notice in windows near entrances
- Keep your garage door closed and locked even when your car is not in the garage
- If the garage door lifts on a track, tighten a C-clamp to the track next to the roller. Consider frosting or covering your garage windows so burglars won't see that your car is gone
- Store the garage door opener in your house instead of your car
Even a few of these preventative measures will help discourage burglars from entering your home.
It’s worth taking the time to read up on, and apply, the simple steps that will help make your vacation, and your homecoming, a soothing one.