If you plan to travel during the holidays, don’t allow your focus on getting gifts, packing all your necessities, or getting the family ready for the trip to let you overlook the need to make sure your home is safe while you are away. With a little bit of advance planning, and some creativity, you can deter burglars and vandals and not have to spend a fortune to do it. These tricks will help you protect your house, freeing you from the fear that something might happen while allowing you to enjoy your travels peacefully.
1. Have the Post Office Hold All Your Mail
Make sure you let family members, or others who may send you cards and gifts, that you’ll be away so they don’t have to fret about sending them to arrive exactly on the holiday. If you’re going to be gone for more than a day or two, contact the post office to ask that they hold all your mail. You can request that delivery resume on the day you return – or the day after your return.
2. Put Newspaper Subscriptions On Vacation or Cancel Them
Some newspapers have provisions that allow people to put their subscription on vacation, and have it resume when they return. It means that while you’re not getting the paper, you won’t be charged for it, so you’ll either get extra time, or your bill may be prorated. If you can’t temporarily stop it, cancel the subscription. Since newspaper carriers typically throw newspapers on the porch or at the door, unless you cancel or halt your subscription, papers will pile up outside, essentially advertising to unscrupulous people, that you’re not at home.
3. Notify Next Door Neighbors
It is always a good idea to let your next door neighbors know that you’re going to be away. You may even want to give them a key to your house, just so they can look in on things and make sure everything is okay. When neighbors are away that other neighbors are going to be away, they will often make a point of being more aware of everything that goes on around the neighborhood – and they’ll be on the lookout for suspicious activity around your home.
4. Put Indoor and Outdoor Lights on Automatic Timers
By using automatic timers to turn your lights on in the evening and off at bedtime, you create the illusion that people are really home. Don’t have every light go on and off at the same time. That would be too predictable. In rooms where you may not have lights, a floor lamp is a good substitute. Put them in areas where your family usually spends the most time. If at all possible, put your porch or front and back door lights on timers, too. If the outside of your house is always dark, thieves or vandals may figure out what’s going on and cause damage or steal things.
You may also want to turn a radio on on a timer – or have the TV go on. Having noise in the house may be a helpful deterrent.
If you have a land-line, and you have an answering machine or voice mail, you should set the ringer so that the machine or voice mail will kick in after very few rings. If you allow your phone to ring for over five rings, people will suspect you aren’t at home – especially if you have a loud enough ringer to be heard outside.