Three in 10 Americans will be traveling during the 2011 holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, according to the American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. Many will be taking an average of two trips. Happy holidays, enjoy your destination and drive safe if you’re going by car. But before you head out the door, give a little forethought to what you’re leaving behind. Protect your home from thieves and vandals while you’re away with these security tips. They might also help you avoid having to file a homeowners insurance claim when you return. (By the way, thieves don’t care if you’re actually a
homeowner; they’ll steal from renters, too. Renters insurance is a real insurance bargain and something you definitely should have.)
- Burglaries tend to spike this time of year and thieves are always on the lookout for easy targets. A home or apartment that screams “nobody’s coming home for a few days” is just the ticket. Create the illusion that your home is occupied. Install timers that will randomly turn on interior and exterior lights at staggered times.
- Call the newspaper and post office and suspend delivery while you’re away.
- Ask a trusted neighbor to gather up any unsolicited flyers that may otherwise pile up on the porch. If it’s a really good neighbor, ask them to put out and bring in your empty trash cans out on trash day.
- If you have a Homeowners Association or are part of a Neighborhood Watch program, let them know your departure and return dates.
- If you live in snow country, arrange (and pay someone) ahead of time to shovel your walk and driveway.
- Install deadbolt locks on all entry doors. Experts advise that tapered deadbolts offer the best protection.
- Secure all windows and sliding doors with pins or bars that prevent them being opened or lifted out of the frame. Sure, a motivated thief can always break the glass, but most aren’t that ambitious. They’ll just look for an easier house to break into.
- Winter weather can wreak havoc on your unoccupied home, too. Set your thermostat at around 65 degrees to prevent pipes and plumbing from freezing. If you’ll be gone more than a day or two, consider shutting off the water at the main supply valve.
- Unplug small appliances (toaster, microwave, computer, tv, etc.).