Whether you’re finally going to backpack across Europe, or on a temporary work assignment out of town, whenever you leave your home for an extended period you need to prepare. Unoccupied homes are tempting targets for burglaries and vulnerable to other disasters.
Before you pack your bags make sure to prepare your home with the following tips!
Find a check-in buddy
The absolute best thing you can do to secure your home while you’re away is to ask a trusted loved one or friend to come by every once and awhile and check in on the place. Someone who can collect any stray mail or flyers that accumulate around the porch and keep tabs on things. Not only is the extra activity good for deterring thieves but having an extra set of eyes around the place will help avoid other problems. If you’re away and a storm blows a tree branch through a window, the only way you’ll know about it is if someone is there to see it.
Giving a trusted loved one or friend access to your place can help in other ways as well. If you have a medical emergency or are in an accident while traveling and need access to medical documentation or your insurance records, your check-in buddy can help. If nobody else can get in your home, it will make things that much more complicated.
Contract your lawn and home care out
If you’re going to be gone for weeks or even months, you need to consider the upkeep of your property. Not only to maintain the image of an active home, but so you don’t wind up coming home to a jungle! During the summer you’ll want to hire a lawn mowing service to come every week or so and keep the place trimmed up. During the winter, things are a little more complicated. You should consider a plow service to occasionally clean up your drive way when needed as well as your sidewalk. Just because you’ll be gone doesn’t mean your responsibilities will take a vacation too. You don’t want to leave yourself vulnerable to a slip and fall injury from an uncleared walk way.
It’s a wonderful day in the neighbourhood
Know and trust your neighbour? Great! You might already be asking them to keep an eye on your place but see if you can impose on them for one more favor – dragging your garbage can down to the curb. A home that doesn’t put out any garbage for weeks on end is pretty suspicious. While it’s unlikely anyone is paying that much attention, it never hurts to be careful.
You can also let them know that they are free to use your drive way while you’re gone! They’ll be happy to take you up on it if they have lots of guests coming over (especially during the holidays when parking is at a premium) and your place will look that much more active.
Keep it light
An easy way to make your home look active even while nobody is there is to have a few lights set to timers designed to come on and off at different times in the evening. Timers are cheap and readily available for purchase from any big box store. They can be easily set up for any lamp in your home to give the impression of people moving in and out of different rooms. A couple of these will help avoid the most obvious tell-tale sign of an empty home.
Of course, you can always get more ambitious! With the rise in smart home technology and Wi-FI controlled lights, you can maintain full control of your lights no matter how far away you are (so long as you have an internet connection). These apps can let you manage your home’s lighting with far more finesse than a simple on/off timer. You can set lights to go on and off at certain intervals and control large overhead lights rather than just lamps. These are obviously more expensive and complicated to set up, but they can be worth it in the long run.
If you really want to lean in on the smart home technology and keep the best possible tabs on your home while your away, consider an indoor monitoring system! Extremely popular for both security purposes and for baby and child monitoring, these hi-def cameras can be installed in your home and connected to a mobile app that allows you to check in whenever you please. Depending on the brand you can even get motion detecting cameras that will automatically activate and alert you through a notification on your phone when someone is moving around unexpectedly. Just what you need for your peace of mind while away! While an indoor security monitoring system would have been a massive expense even just a few years ago, now you can set up sophisticated monitors for only a few hundred dollars. Not a bad investment considering the security they afford.
As seen on TV
Aside from setting your lights to timers and the more high-tech smart solutions we discussed, there are a few products available to help simulate a busy and active home for anyone who might be paying attention. Consider picking up a fake TV light to make your ruse more convincing. These products simulate the bluish glow of a large TV, complete with randomized dimming and flickering as if you were watching an evening of programing. Yes, they do seem a little silly, like something you’d see on an infomercial, but they do work as advertised. Best of all, most of them are plug and play, they automatically come on in the evening and turn off around midnight, so you don’t need to pick up extra timers or mess around with any settings.
All of this might seem like a lot of effort but setting up even a few of these precautions will help give your home the appearance of activity and make it a far less tempting target for burglars. Don’t come home to find a mess of broken glass and empty shelves. Take the time to set up a regular check-in from a friend or family member and do what you can to give thieves the impression you’re still at home.