While none of us likes to think about something bad happening while we’re away from home enjoying time with friends and family, precautions are necessary during the holiday season.
As a board member, we know you want to ensure the safety of your community and its members. Remind homeowners that after they’ve planned their itinerary and packed their bags not to leave home without checking off the following safety tips:
- Keep travel plans offline. We know holiday plans can be exciting, but it’s best to refrain from announcing them on social media sites, such as Facebook. Don’t advertise that you’ll be gone; this gives would-be thieves ample opportunity to make you a victim!
- Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to keep watch. Hopefully, you have at least one trusty friend or neighbor who wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on your home while you’re away. It’s also a good idea to leave contact numbers and a spare key, in the event of an emergency (such as a pipe burst, natural disaster, etc.). You may even want to consider asking a neighbor to sporadically park in your driveway while you’re away, in order to create the appearance of someone coming and going.
- If you have a home security system, use it! What’s the sense of having a security system if you’re not going to use it? Don’t forget to set your alarm before you leave for your trip!
Keep up with appearances:
- Take care of exterior maintenance and yard work prior to leaving. Depending on the climate in which you live, make sure your lawn has been mowed, snow has been shoveled, plants have been watered, etc. This will make it appear as if someone is home and has recently tended to lawn maintenance.
- Leave the lights on and consider adding some noise. Of course, having the lights on constantly for the duration of your absence wastes electricity and can be expensive. Electronic timers are helpful and inexpensive ways to keep your home well-lit while creating the appearance of someone being home. These timers are easily purchased at local home improvement stores, and some can even be controlled via phone app! Motion sensor lights are also helpful deterrents for the exterior of the home. If you’re really worried about your home while you’re away, you could mimic conversation or pet noise by recording a loop of long-spoken track on an MP3 or similar device.
- Request a temporary stop on mail and request parcels be held for pick up. One of the first signs thieves look for is mail piling up or holiday packages being left at the front door. Not only does this alert them to the fact that you haven’t been home, it also enables them to take your packages with very little effort or risk!
Take additional home safety precautions:
- Protect your pipes. This is especially important if you live in a cold-weather climate. Pipes should be well-insulated. Leave faucets dripping, or have your neighbor come by every so often to turn on the faucets so that the pipes don’t freeze.
- Check the temperature on your water heater and set your thermostat. This will save on electricity.
- Prevent damage from power surges. Unplug electronics while you’re away, or at least be sure everything is connected to a surge protector.
- Lock and hide valuables and firearms. Lock important documents, valuables (such as heirloom jewelry), and firearms up in a fireproof safe while you’re away, just in case something does happen while you’re gone.
- Do not leave spare keys outside the house. Burglars know where to look; hiding them in a flower pot, key rock, or under the doormat are obvious places to find keys.
- Lock and secure the garage door. If your garage is detached, you should still lock it while you’re away. If your garage is attached, be sure you also lock the garage door leading into the home.
While safety precautions can deter burglars and help to prevent unfortunate events, nothing is foolproof. However, by following the tips above, homeowners can minimize the chances for an unpleasant discovery upon return from a holiday trip. We at SpectrumAM want everyone to experience the joy of the season by having a safe and happy holiday!