Typically, the summer and winter months are high vacation times for Canadians. The last thing anyone wants, is to come home from a fun, relaxing trip to find their home has been broken into. Sure, there are alarm systems that can be installed and companies that will monitor them for you. But, there are plenty of less costly steps you can take to help prevent burglaries.
Here are a few that law enforcement officers and other experts recommend. They’ll help keep your home safe while you’re travelling during your vacation and come in handy all year round.
Here in Ottawa, you need to ensure you don’t come home to find the water pipes have burst and flooded your home.
- Be Smart About Getting Ready
Don’t be too obvious with the luggage. Load the car inside the garage, if possible. If not, at least load up quickly and efficiently.
Hide your valuables, but not in an obvious place. (Hint: The sock drawer is very obvious) Instead, use a small fire-proof safe that’s securely attached to the floor, the wall or something else that can’t be carried out of the house. If you have a safety deposit box, stash the most valuable items there.
Be sure to let your neighbors know you’ll be gone, and for how long. Or, hire a house sitter.
- Make It Look Like You’re Still Home
Put household lights, and even television sets, on timers, and put your mail and newspapers on hold, or ask the neighbors to pick them up.
Rather than closing all the window shades and blinds, keep them in their normal positions—closed if they’re usually closed, open if they’re normally open. Just be sure nothing valuable is visible through your windows.
Ask your neighbors to occasionally make tracks in the snow around your house. Hire someone to shovel the walks and plow the driveway. During the summer, have someone mow your grass while you’re gone.
If you have a second car, leave it parked in the driveway.
- Don’t Be an Easy Target for Burglars
Don’t announce your absence with social media posts. Save the stories about what a great time you had until you get back home.
If someone else lived in your home before you, consider changing the locks. While you’re at it, replace the short screws that typically come with lock hardware with longer ones that will extend past the door jambs into the frame of the house. And, if you have a sliding glass door, place a wooden dowel in the track frame.
Deny prowlers and burglars places to hide by keeping shrubs and trees around the house trimmed back. Don’t leave tools and ladders outside where criminals could “borrow” them to gain access.
Finally, just because you don’t have an expensive alarm system or security service doesn’t mean you can’t fake it. Invest in some inexpensive decals and signage (readily available on the Internet), or even some fake security cameras, and display them prominently. Another option is some kind of “Beware of Dog” sign, even if you don’t have a dog.
- Keep your home insurance valid
If you read the fine print on your home insurance coverage, you will find a clause stating how long your home can be unoccupied before the insurance becomes invalid. Most will state that if you are going to be away from your home (not moved out, just away, like on vacation!), for more than 30 days, the insurance company must be notified and there may be an extra cost and some additional steps you need to complete to keep the policy valid. My home insurance states that if I am to be away more than 48 hrs, then I must have someone check the home on a regular basis.
Being that we live in a cold climate, if you are going to be away you need to protect your home from water damage due to frozen and burst water pipes. Your best bet is to shut off water to the home at the main and drain the water from the pipes before leaving. You should also have someone check your home every 24-48 hours to ensure that the heat is still on. You can find detailed instructions on how to complete these steps on the internet.
With a little thought, a little effort and not a lot of money, you can have better security, (and peace of mind!) back home even as you’re off enjoying your vacation. Have fun, and be safe!
Elizabeth Stokely, Sales Representative
RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group, Brokerage