Thursday, December 8, 2011
For those of us without expensive security services or fancy alarm systems, it doesn’t mean we don’t like to leave our home as secure as possible when we go on vacation. And even if we have someone coming to check up on our home every couple of days or so, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be stretches with no one around to supervise the well-being of our property. Those can be some long periods of time for someone looking to break into a home, or maybe even worse, when a pipe bursts or a similar security or maintenance issue could result in an extremely costly situation.
Here are a few of the things that we do or consider when we are heading out for an extended time away from our home to decrease the chances encountering a costly issue when we come home.
We always stop our mail when going out of town for an extended period, even if we have a friend or family member stopping by to check on the place. To do this, we either stop in and fill out a hold mail form or do it through the US Postal Service’s website at www.usps.com. I will typically start the hold several days in advance, just in case there is any confusion with the mail carrier (which there has been before). I also have someone check after we’re gone to ensure no mail has been mistakenly delivered in our absence.
We do this in order to prevent stuff from piling up or getting lost or stolen after being delivered but also so we don’t have mail littering our doorstep, providing an obvious indication to would-be intruders that we are away.
A Neighborly Offering
We typically try to find family members, friends, close neighbors or some other trustworthy beings to pop in occasionally while we’re away. Even if they don’t come inside, at least having someone to pick up fliers that may be left on the front door, keep an eye open for suspicious characters, or even clear or make tracks in the snow during the winter to make it look like people are around can help keep possible intruders at bay.
We tend to keep our blinds and curtains closed for a large portion of the day -- even when we’re at home. Therefore, we feel comfortable keeping them closed when we are away in order to increase privacy and security. However, the other day when at my mothers, we were heading out and I had closed several of her window blinds. She responded by saying, “Well, you really know how to make it look like no one is home, don’t you? (she tends to keep her blinds open most of the time)
It caught me off guard, but made me realize that sometimes, changing the appearance of your home in an effort to increase security might actually be more of an indication that you aren’t present than if you had just left your home as it would normally look.
At our last home, we had an outside light that was set on a timer to come up at around dusk and turn off again around daybreak. And while I think that leaving a light on all night in normal circumstances is wasteful, when away, it might be a cheap form of extra home security.
The price of three or four extra kilowatt hours of electricity to leave a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom light on may only run 30 or 40 cents. This is far less than the costs of an insurance deductible and the time and trouble that might result from a home invasion or burglary.
While I’ve never gone this route, I have considered it a time or two, and had I a friend or family member who I could trust not to throw a wild party or make a complete mess of my home, I might have gone the route of letting them stay there while we were away.
Allowing a trustworthy representative to stay in your home during a vacation could act as a money saver for both you and your house sitter. For them, it could be free rent, food, and utilities. For you, it could be free security, supervision, and even a pet sitter.
I never really liked trying to hide valuables when on vacation because I know that most career burglars know these hiding spaces and can find them rather easily and speedily. However, I still figure it’s worth a shot. For what valuables I can’t deposit in a safe deposit box (my favorite hiding location), I do my best to ensure that they are stashed safely when we leave for vacation. This includes storing financial paperwork properly and in areas where I hope it might be overlooked if a break-in occurs, and stashing a few small family heirlooms where I don’t think anyone might look.
While my hiding spots might not be perfect, they at least provided a little affordable peace of mind and protection against the unforeseen while we are away.