Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe While You're Away

Jul 19, 2016
Whether you’re embarking on a domestic or international adventure, coming back from a trip and realizing nothing much has changed is always a comforting feeling – especially when it comes to your home. Making sure your house is safe from mishaps is a part of trip preparation that’s often left to the last minute, but is just as important as packing your power adapter and toothbrush. Keep these tips in mind next time you pack your bags and head out the door, to ensure that you’ll return back home just as you left it, safe and sound.

Before you leave:

  • Put any mail or newspaper delivery on hold. A full mailbox and yellowing newspapers on your front steps are telltale signs of an unattended home.
Photo by Shutterstock.
  • Get rid of the spare key you leave outside the home. Burglars know the classic hiding spots.
  • Make sure your ladders and tools are stored away so nobody can use them to access your house.
Leaving ladders or other tools around your home is unsafe. Flickr Photo by John Eisenschenk.
  • If you have important valuables that you want to keep hidden while you’re gone, check out these creative hiding spots.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly.
  • Timed outlet plugs can be programmed to turn lights on and off at different times. Having changing lights in the house will deter potential intruders because they will assume someone is home.
Photo by Shutterstock.
  • Clean your house. It is always nice to come home to a clean space after a long day of traveling, but a tidy home will also make oddities stand out more, alerting you if someone had been in your home.
Photo by pixabay.

Ask a friend, family member or trusted neighbor:

  • Informing a trusted family member or neighbor of your travel plans is important, as they can keep an extra set of eyes on your house while you’re away.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to use your garbage bins or to bring them to the curb and back on pickup days.
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  • If it is snowy out, ask someone to walk across your lawn and up to your door, or to shovel the walkway. This will make it seem like someone is coming and going from the house.
  • If you know the temperature is going to be low while you’re gone, consider leaving your heat on or giving a friend or neighbor a key to make sure your pipes don’t freeze.
  • If mail is delivered to your home, ask a neighbor to collect it.
  • Ask (or hire) someone to tend to your lawn and plants. Unkempt shrubbery is a sign of an empty house.
Make sure your lawn and garden don't become overgrown while you're away. Flickr photo by Joshua Ganderson.

The day of departure:

  • If you’re taking the car, load your luggage in the garage. Doing so discretely will ensure that less people know about your departure.
  • Close windows and lock car doors – always double check right before leaving!
  • Set your security alarm.
Photo by Shutterstock.
  • Unplug electronics to save money on electricity and mitigate the risk of any electrical fires.
  • This tip is optional, but turning off your main water supply can reduce the risk of flooding while you’re gone, which can cause a lot of damage if not tended to immediately.
  • Empty your fridge of any perishables – nobody wants to return home to mould or unwanted smells.
  • If you have any sliding glass doors or windows, wedge a rod or plank of wood in between the door and the frame so it won’t budge.
  • Leave your curtains as you normally do – you don’t want anything to seem out of the ordinary.
  • Unplug your garage door so that it can’t be opened by a universal remote.
  • As you leave and lock your door, pretend you’re saying goodbye to someone inside, so it doesn’t seem like you’re leaving your house unoccupied.
Photo by Shutterstock.

While you’re gone:

  • If you leave your car at the airport, don’t leave your GPS (or any other valuables) inside, as someone could break into the car and be guided right to your house with your device.
  • Don’t announce vacation plans online or by voicemail before you leave, or while you’re away.

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