The festive season can be especially joyous, but it can also pose extra security risks for your home.
That’s because a calendar filled with events and visits with family and friends typically means leaving your home unoccupied, which can be a big gift for burglars looking to make off with your belongings like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch. Follow these tips to help ward off intruders and keep your home safe and sound.
Make your home look occupied
There are plenty of ways to make it look like you’re home even when you’re not so burglars won’t target your house. One way to do this is by stopping your mail and putting your lights on timers. Another effective tactic is hiring a house sitter or enlisting the help of a friend, family member, or a neighbor to pop in mornings and evenings to manually turn your lights on and off for you and get your mail. If you’ll be away for an extended period, get someone to park in your driveway while you’re away. You could also enlist the services of a contractor to take care of necessary maintenance tasks while you’re out of town, like removing snow from your driveway and sidewalks after a snowstorm.
Safeguard your entryways
First and foremost, you should always lock all your doors and windows before leaving home, including for your shed and garage (especially if they have items of value stored inside). If you prefer to keep a spare key, avoid putting it in an expected spot such as under your doormat. Instead, hide it in a less obvious location, such as underneath a loose brick in your walkway or in a passcode-protected lock box. Never leave any tools or ladders in your yard that could allow access to your home, and keep areas by windows and doors clear and brightly lit to prevent covert break-in attempts. This means trimming any bushes and trees that obscure them from view and adding exterior solar or motion-sensor lights. You might also want to consider adding a security system to deter intruders and alert you and the police if it’s triggered.
Keeping items like holiday gifts, jewelry, cash, and other valuables within view can be an open invitation for robbers, so put them away before you leave home. For extra security, stash them in places a thief might not think to check, like behind books on a crowded shelf or in your attic, garage, or pantry. If you expect to be gone a while, you could also consider storing these items with trusted family and friends, in a bolted floor safe, or in a safe deposit box.
While it’s fun to post travel photos online, refrain from doing so while on the road —potential intrudes will see it as an open invitation. Feel free to share your memories once you’re back at home. Likewise, avoid uploading photos to social media of any gifts you’ve bought or received, which only demonstrate you have something worth stealing. Instead, simply show them off privately to friends and family.
Update your coverage
Finally, your homeowners insurance can provide an extra layer of protection for your property and its belongings. If you’ve renovated your home or bought something of value this past year, take the time to review your policy before traveling. You can also work with an insurance professional to make sure you have the coverage you need to protect you from any loss.
With these precautions, you can hopefully worry less about your home this season and, instead, enjoy your time with friends and family more.