Home Security Tips

Keep Your Home Safe While You Are on Vacation

Burglar breaking into a home
Remus Eserblom / Getty Images

We all love a vacation, but we also want to find things the way we left them when we return home. While thieves love to take advantage of vacation absences, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your home safe while you are away. With a little advance planning, you can trick would-be burglars into thinking you are still at home.

Home Security Steps to Take Several Days Before You Depart

Stop mail and newspaper delivery or arrange to have someone pick up your papers and mail. The United States Postal Service will hold your mail for up to 30 days. You can stop your mail in person at any post office or request Hold Mail Service online. Call your newspaper to place a vacation hold; the circulation department will be happy to help you.

Walk around your home and look at your yard. If bushes and shrubs obscure your windows and doors, trim them back. Burglars love to take advantage of the screening overgrown shrubs provide.

Avoid discussing your vacation plans on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Thieves have been known to check social media and target the homes of people who are on vacation.

Ask a friend or neighbor to check your home each day and pick up any packages left on your doorstep if you do not plan to hire a house sitter or pet sitter. Let several neighbors know that you will be away and ask them to call the police if they notice unusual activity around your home.

Buy light timers if you do not own any.

Place a metal or wooden rod inside the track of your sliding glass door. This will prevent would-be thieves from opening the sliding door from the outside.

Check the light bulbs in your outdoor light fixtures. Replace any that are burned out.

If you have hidden a key outside your home, remove it.

Home Security Tips For Your Departure Day

Set up several light timers in various rooms and make sure they are programmed to turn on and off at times that match your usual pattern of room light usage.

Turn off alarm clocks and clock radios so that people outside your home cannot hear them making noise for extended periods of time.

Turn down your telephone ringer volume and set your voice mail to pick up after one ring. An endlessly-ringing telephone indicates that no one is home to answer it.

Put away barbecues, lawn tools, bicycles and other items that you might normally store on your porch or in your yard. If you store these items in an outdoor shed, lock the shed before your trip begins.

Turn off or unplug your garage door opener. If you have an attached garage, lock the door between the garage and the rest of your home.

Leave exterior lights on. If the lights are on timers or are motion-sensor activated, be sure your lighting system is set to operate while you are away.

Double check all doors and windows to make sure they are locked. Lock your shed, too.

Home Security Tips For Longer Trips

Arrange for a neighbor or friend to move the cars in your driveway into different positions every few days. This will give the impression that you doing errands or going to work.

Have someone mow your lawn on a regular basis. If you are traveling during the autumn months, consider hiring someone to rake up your leaves, too.

Unplug appliances you will not use during your absence. This will save you money and reduce the risk of electrical fires. Do not unplug your refrigerator unless it is completely empty and clean and you can secure the door in the "open" position without any possibility of closure.

During winter months, ask a friend or neighbor to monitor the weather forecast and come into your home to drip your faucets if a hard freeze is expected. Coming home to burst pipes and flooded rooms is every traveler's nightmare.