Securing Your Home While Travelling
We often hear about the significance of having travel insurance and travelling safe during our holidays, but many people often overlook the importance of securing their home while they are away. Leaving your home vacant for an extended amount of time makes it more susceptible to unfortunate incidents such as burglaries or vandalism to occur. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to greatly minimise the risks of disaster occurring while you’re away.
All it takes to fully protect to your home is a little extra preparation. Having the peace of mind that your home is safe and secure while you’re travelling is priceless and will allow you to fully enjoy a stress-free holiday. Let us look at the top ways you can keep your home safe while you experience the many adventures the world has to offer.
Preparing Your Home Before You Travel
You should put just as much attention towards preparing your home before your travels as you do towards packing for your holidays. It often pays to create a checklist of essential tasks you should complete before locking your front door and heading for the airport. There are many small things that often go unchecked which could lead to potential severe consequences.
Unplug all unessential devices and appliances and turn off power points. For appliances that you must keep running, such as refrigerators and water heaters, you can look at setting them to lower settings so as to not use up as much energy. Unplugging appliances prevents possible electric surges and shorts which could lead to fires. Should an electrical fire happen when you are away, the chances of quickly extinguishing those fires is severely diminished since you won’t be there to notice them. You should also take this time to check your fire alarm batteries and replace them if necessary.
If your home’s natural gas is supplied by portable gas cylinders, be sure to close the tank valves while you’re away. Avoid possible floods in your home by turning off your internal water valve in case of a water pipe were to burst. You should also make sure to clean out your gutters and storm drains, which if left unchecked could lead to a build-up of water and potential water damage to your home during heavy rains.
Other important tasks include disabling your electric garage door opener so it cannot be hacked, removing hidden keys that you may have stashed around the home, and remembering to lock all doors and windows. You can enhance the security of your sliding glass doors by adding chain locks or placing a pole/stick in the door track. Also, remember to take out any trash unless you wish to return to a smelly home. This can also prevent pests from being enticed to come inside your home.
Install a Home Monitoring System
One of the best investments you can make for your home is purchasing a quality home security system. Modern home alarm systems have become incredibly hi-tech yet easy to use. You are sure to find one that fits your budget and meets your security needs. Today’s security cameras can record crystal clear images and video even in low light.
Shock sensor detectors can be fitted to windows and doors to sense when any access points to your home are being opened or disturbed. Many home monitoring systems also come with an app that will allow you to control your system remotely from anywhere in the world using your smartphone. In case you don’t have access to the internet while you’re travelling, it pays to select a home monitoring company that can also dispatch guards to check on your property when there is an alert. A good alarm receiving centre can often respond appropriately to an alarm being triggered in less than a minute.
Secure your home further by advertising that you have an alarm system in place. Display stickers on windows and signs in the yard which let potential burglars know they will be up against a tough to beat monitoring system. Make sure that your system’s batteries are working even if your system is hardwired into your home, as these systems will usually still have a backup battery that will kick in should there be a power outage. As an added benefit, installing a home alarm system will often lower the cost of your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Arrange a House Sitter
Another great way to protect your home while travelling is to not leave it vacant. Having a trustworthy family member or close friend house-sit for you while your away means your home won’t entice potential burglars since your home won’t appear vacant. Having a house sitter also means you won’t have to prepare your house nearly as much, allowing you to not have to hold mail, unplug appliances, and turn off the gas or water. Of course, it is vital that you select a house sitter that you can fully trust to watch over and care for your home while you’re away.
Having a house sitter acts like a secondary home monitoring system that can alert you if anything goes wrong with your property. They can also help with placing trash out on the appropriate collection days, watering plants, mowing the lawn, shovelling snow, securing your home further during severe storms, and feeding pets. Not having to bring your pets to a boarding kennel or cattery will also save you money and your pets a lot of stress.
If you can’t arrange to have a full time house sitter look after your home, they may be able to at least check on your property every so often. Receiving regular updates that your house is fine can go a long way to alleviating any worries you have during your travels.
Hide or Lock Up Valuables
You most likely won’t be bringing a lot of your most expensive jewellery and belongings with you on holiday, so it is important to hide your valuables while you’re away. Hiding cash, costly jewellery, and valuable electronics in unusual places will help keep them undiscovered by thieves in the event of a break-in. Don’t forget to hide your car keys as well if you will be leaving your car at home and not taking a roadtrip with your car or driving your car to the airport.
You may want to look into purchasing a heavy duty safe to store your valuables in and one that is fireproof so as to help secure important documents in the event of a fire. Remember to secure any expensive lawn equipment like ride-on lawnmowers or other expensive outdoor belongings you may have. You should also close your curtains so as to not advertise what you have inside your home.
Avoid Posting to Social Media
While we all love to share our incredible travel adventures with the world, it’s a good idea to avoid posting photos of your holiday online while you’re travelling. Posting pictures that show you’re having fun abroad and “checking-in” to places on Facebook can both easily alert criminals that you are not currently home. At the very least, make sure your social media posts are not set to public and limited to only friends and family for viewing. You should also never post your address on your social media accounts or post photos that may give away your home’s physical location.
Many people often set up an auto reply on their email saying they are away. This can also be risky as it makes it apparent you may be away. Avoid changing your voicemail or setting up an auto reply email if possible or at the very least be vague with details in terms of when you are away and how long you will be travelling for.
Hold Your Personal Mail
Another big sign that your house is vacant is having an overflowing mailbox. You may also be a bit old-school and still receive physical newspapers at your home, which will begin to collect on your driveway or doorstep when you’re away. The best way to avoid this is to put a hold on your mail and newspaper service. Stopping mail service is easy and usually only involves filling out a simple form which can often be done online. Hold mail service can often be arranged for up to 12 months, making it useful for even the longest holidays.
Purchase Outdoor Sensor Lights
Another inexpensive way to deter criminals is to purchase and install outdoor motion-sensor flood lights. These low energy using lights will only come on when they detect nearby motion. They are especially handy in dark outdoor areas of you home that may be more enticing for criminals to enter your home. They can also be useful for deterring animal pests that may wish to get in your trash bins or cause other damage to your outdoor property.
You can also look into getting indoor lights that can be fit with a timer. You can then easily set your indoor lights to come on for a set duration of time to make it look as though someone is home each night.
Flood Lights: Photo By waxesstatic
Obtain Home and Contents Insurance
Even the most secure home can be broken into by especially clever criminals. For this reason, it is important to make sure you have a comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policy that includes contents insurance. A homeowner’s insurance policy can not only cover you for loss and damage caused by theft, but also damage caused by fires or floods.
It is important to note that leaving your home unoccupied for an extended period of time while you’re travelling can void your homeowner’s insurance policy. Many insurance companies allow you to leave your home unoccupied for up to 60 without voiding your policy, but they often require you to notify them of your travel plans. You may be able to negotiate being away for up to 90 days or your unoccupied limit may be as strict as 30 days, therefore making it important to call your insurance provider before your trip to get your policy’s exact details.