Homeowners insurance is our safety net in the case of fire, flood, theft, roof damage, falling tree branches, and many other unhappy accidents. However, as homeowners, we would prefer not to have to use our insurance at all.
Unfortunately, many of these incidents happen when we are away from our homes. Fear not, there are many ways we can safeguard our homes against costly dangers while we’re away. Whether it’s a lengthy vacation or a day at work, ensure your property is protected anytime you leave the house. Consider the following tips we have provided about empty home safety.
- Lock Windows and Doors
It may seem like an obvious thing to do, however making sure our windows and doors are securely shut and locked is something many of us easily and commonly overlook. Perhaps you got a package, received a visitor, or walked out to water the lawn and forgot to re-lock the door. Maybe you missed the window lock when closing the house up one evening. Make a habit of checking and rechecking windows and doors before going on vacation and even before stepping out to work.
It may surprise you to know that a large chunk (30% in 2014) of home invasions involved offenders coming in through unlocked doors. When it comes to keeping your home, property, and of course yourself safe, don’t make it easy on the bad guys by leaving windows and doors unlocked.
- Stop Mail and Newspapers
When you go on vacation, even if it’s just a few days, put a stop on newspapers and mail. The United States Postal Service will hold your mail for up to 30 days. You can visit their website, call, or go into an office to request this hold. Call or visit the website of your newspaper publication a couple of days in advance of your departure to suspend service.
When criminals look for victim houses, they notice things like piled up newspapers. This tells them no one is home and opportunity is at hand. Another clue is a mailbox stuffed to the brim. Mail theft is another worry that comes with continued mail service while you’re away. Unless you have a shared cluster box, even secured home mailboxes are vulnerable to thieves.
- Make Arrangements for Pets
Even our most well-behaved pets can get unruly. Bored dogs and entitled cats can wreak havoc inside our homes if we leave them to their own devices. Many misbehave when owners go on vacation. Some will wreck the house after just a few hours of alone time. Ripped up carpet, scratched out walls, and worse are known to have happened.
If you’re planning a vacation, make provisions for pets. It may be a mistake to think leaving out automatic feeders are enough. Research facilities and find one you trust to board your animals, or have a friend or trusted neighbor come in periodically to check on them while you’re away. Not only does this ensure your pets are safe, fed and watered, it decreases risk of damage or severity of damage to your home.
- Tell the Neighbors
If you’re in good standing with the neighbors, tell them you’re leaving. Ask them to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity and call the authorities if they notice any. And because they know you’re away, they can pay closer attention and spot things such as broken outdoor pipes, falling tree branches, and broken windows.
When leaving for vacation (or even for work) unplug televisions, game consoles, computers, and small appliances. If a nasty storm hits, unplugging reduces the chances of a power surge. Surges can damage or destroy electronics and even start a fire. That’s not something anyone wants to come home to.
- Hide it from Social Media
When you go on vacation, it’s exciting to get away from everyday life and enjoy ourselves. It’s tempting to announce it on social media platforms. Posting pictures of travel, meals, adventure, and our children in the pool are part of many of our vacations. But, it’s not such a good idea. Social media accounts are notorious for hacker invaders. They worm into our online worlds and glean our information. Spilling our plans on these platforms tells not only friends and family when we’re away, but it also tells those with nefarious intentions.
Home invaders seek out this type of information so they can take advantage of our absence and turn our lives upside down. They use the information we post on social media to prey on our homes, invading, thieving from, and vandalizing and damaging them. So, next time you vacation, wait until your return to share pictures and stories of your experience.
- Have an Alarm System
One important piece of home safety that deters thieves and vandals is the alarm system. Do some research and talk to a local provider about which equipment and plan is right for your particular home. Even the most basic and cost-friendly system and plan are better than no system. It will serve as a deterrent in many cases and will scare off offenders, notify authorities, and reduce the risk and amount of loss and damage.
When vacation time comes along, take a huge sigh of relief. Then, take measures to protect your home. Notify trusted neighbors and enlist their watchful eyes. Stop mail and newspapers so they don’t pile up and invite foul players. Arrange lodging or visits for your furry friends, and don’t advertise your absence on social media. Some of these tips, like having an alarm, locking doors and windows, and unplugging electronics are good for vacations, as well as every day.
For more information about protecting your house, or to inquire about homeowner’s insurance, please contact us.