It’s the time of the year for you to set off to your cottage or cabin destination to get some well-deserved R&R. Although your bags are packed, and your trip was planned months ago, it would be a shame if your home is damaged while you were away.
That’s why before you take off on vacation, it’s important to check on your home security and make sure your property is theft-proof. Burglars are always on the lookout for clues that people aren’t home – the last thing you want while you’re away is to experience a home burglary.
Here are 15 ways to help protect your home while you’re away.
1. Don’t post your holiday announcements on social media
Planning your trip is an exciting moment where you might be tempted to post photos of your cabin’s gorgeous view on social media. However, if your social media viewing is on public, sharing travel plans notifies people that your house will be empty. Even if your social media is set to friends, you can never be completely sure who comes across your posts. To be on the safe side, post photos of your trip only when you arrive back home.
2. Review your home security system
If your home is equipped with security cameras and a home security system, now is the time to position them, so they are visible to everyone who comes on your property. Be sure to post home security signs and decals in visible spots for intruders to see immediately. Position security cameras conspicuously, so anyone who steps on the property will know they are being captured on camera.
Check that all your smart home devices and automated devices are in working order. This might be a good time to replace their batteries with new ones and ensure the passwords are programmed properly.
3. Move outdoor equipment inside
Do a walk through the backyard and garden and put away outdoor items such as your barbeque, lawnmower, patio tables and chairs, pool toys, and garden tools that have the potential to move around or get damaged during rainstorms or strong winds.
4. Take an inventory on possessions
Take a video and pictures of all your possessions inside and outside the house. This will greatly assist in jogging your memory when making a list of items damaged or stolen while you were away.
5. Store valuables at the bank
If you want full peace of mind while you’re away and don’t want to keep your prized possessions such as cash, certified documents, and jewelry at home, contact your bank to store them in a safety deposit box.
6. Test the smoke alarm
Check to see that your smoke alarm is functioning by pressing the test button. If it emits a small sound, it means it needs new batteries. Even if it sounds loud enough, put new batteries in if they haven’t been replaced in a long time. A functioning smoke alarm is crucial while you are away to ensure a house fire will set off the alarm and notify your home security service provider to send the fire department.
7. Turn off the water supply to prevent flooding
Besides preventing a fire while you’re away, it’s a good idea to turn off the house’s main water supply valve to prevent water from flooding caused by leaky pipes or burst pipes. After shutting the water, drain all the pipes by opening up the lowest most faucet in the house and the water in the pipes will drain.
8. Adjust the thermostat
Program the thermostat to hold the temperature at a level so that in winter months pipes do not freeze and burst. If you have Wi-Fi thermostat, set it to send you a warning if the temperature in the house drops below certain degrees.
9. Lock all doors connecting to your home
It’s easy to forget to lock connecting doors, such as the garage door or side entrance, that connects to your house. On the day of departure, try not to exit from these doors and ensure that they are locked before you leave. If your garage uses an automatic garage door, shut off the power to prevent burglars from using a universal remote to get in.
10. Put a temporary hold on your mail
You’d be surprised after a few weeks of being away at how an ever-growing pile of flyers, magazines, newspapers, and junk mail can signal that no one’s at home. Before you leave, contact Canada Post for placing a temporary hold on your mail, especially if you’re planning a long stay at your cabin or cottage. If you subscribe to newspapers or magazines, contact them to pause your delivery for a while.
11. Lock all the windows
Windows on the main floor are more susceptible to be broken into. However, you’d be surprised at how some burglars climb to the upper floor and get through a back window. Be sure to lock all the windows on both floors, and don’t forget to include the basement and garage windows if you have them.
12. Use smart lights
Days and weeks of consistent darkness alert burglars of an empty house. You can leave a desk lamp on sitting on a nightstand on the second floor to give the idea that someone is home. Or, if you want to save on electricity, opt for smart lighting that operates on a timer, and you can turn them off and on remotely from your smartphone or on a timer.
13. Hire yard maintenance or snow removal
If you’re going to be away for more than a few weeks in the summertime, make sure you hire a landscaping contractor to mow the lawn. An unkempt lawn that is growing weeds and dandelions signals no occupancy. If you’re going away during the wintertime, consider snow removal for your driveway and sidewalk.
14. Unplug appliances and electronics
On the day you leave, be sure to unplug all electronics such as televisions, alarm clocks in the bedroom, home entertainment systems, and computers. Go into the kitchen and unplug microwaves, toasters, and any other small kitchen appliances to prevent damage in case of a power surge.
15. Park the car in the drive
It’s tempting to leave your car parked in the garage to protect it from being broken into, but this signals that no one is home. Leaving your locked car parked on the driveway deters potential targets because it tells burglars that someone is home. Be sure to clear your car of any GPS or electronics visible on the dashboard or seats.
As you can see, securing your home before you take off on vacation takes some preparation, but in the long run, if you practice these changes, you can be rest assured that your house will be safe while you’re away.
* Coverage is subject to policy wording, terms, conditions, and deductibles. Protection is limited to the perils, coverage, exclusions, and limits shown on the policy.