These ten tasks will keep your house safe—and give you peace of mind.
Pay Your Bills
Or make sure you schedule payments so you don’t miss important due dates. Travelers often use credit cards, so it’s especially important to make sure those bills are paid. “Sometimes, if you don’t pay your credit card on time, they’ll lock your account until it’s paid. Then, all of a sudden you’re making calls or having to pay over the phone,” Marino says.
It’s also a good idea to let your credit card companies, bank, and cellphone service know in advance you’ll be traveling. Otherwise, your out-of-town purchases can look like suspicious activity, resulting in a hold being placed on your cards.
Arm the Alarms
Bergey advises homeowners to let their security companies know they’ll be away. “Give a family member or friend your alarm code, the security company’s phone number, your itinerary, and contact numbers,” she says. “Press the test button on your smoke alarms to make sure they work, and change the battery if necessary.”
Consider Smart-Home Technology
Smart home cameras and surveillance systems are all the rage in home security these days. They tend to be easier to install than full-fledged security systems, and being wire-free, it’s much harder for a burglar to take apart the system before attempting to break in. The technology works through your cellphone or tablet, allowing you to see what’s going on back home. “When people go on vacation, they tend to make changes to household care routines to make sure things run smoothly while they’re gone, like coordinating with the house cleaner and keeping the dog walker on a tighter schedule,” according to Alex Teichman, CEO and co-founder of Lighthouse AI, which manufactures a 3-D sensing smart-home security camera. “Smart home cameras ensure your home continues to run normally while you’re away on holiday or even if you’re traveling locally.”
Move the Car
If you’re going away without your car, make sure you’re parked for alternate side of the street laws. You don’t want to come back with a bunch of tickets on your windshield. “Depending on how long and when you’re going to be away, try to find a place where you can either park and have it okay for the week, or have someone, like a family member, potentially move your car for you,” Marino says.
If your house has a driveway, have that be your car’s home while you’re away. If you have a garage, Bergey recommends parking your car outside against the doors to block access. “Remove garage door remotes from the car and unplug the electric door opener—the box unit attached to the garage ceiling—so that the door can’t be opened while you’re away,” she says. “Make sure to lock the car and garage doors.”
Don’t Post Your Trip on Social Media
It may be tempting to tell the world about your upcoming tropical getaway or camping experience, but doing so could be dangerous. Most home-security experts will agree that announcing you’re not home on social media is an open invitation to burglars. Wait until you return to post that selfie of you with a palm tree or exploring the Grand Canyon.
Some things seem obvious to do before you say, “bon voyage,” but a gentle reminder can’t hurt. If possible, ask a trusted neighbor or family member to check in on the house every so often. And of course, make arrangements for your beloved pets and plants, and take the time to make sure all your doors and windows are locked. A double check for peace of mind before you get going is a good idea, too. It’ll make lounging on the beach much more relaxing.
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