Friday, August 3, 2007

Keeping Your Home Safe While On Vacation

We leave Monday on our trip to Ireland for my sister-in-law's wedding. Should be fun, though I'm still not looking forward to the flight. Each time we fly with our son, he's a completely different person, so we arm ourselves as well as possible and hope for the best.

Lots to do this weekend, including packing and cleaning. There's nothing worse that arriving home after a long flight to a messy kitchen, unmade bed, and general mayhem and chaos.

On that note, here's a list of things Real Simple suggests to burglarproof your home. Always a thought when leaving for any amount of time. Heck, I think about it when we're just hanging around at home. You can never be too safe.

Inside your home

  • Put lights and a radio on or a television on timers - we use X10, which requires a PC and some know-how to set up, but is really smart. You can also consider some cheap timers from Home Depot or the like.

  • Don't rely on your dog - if you've trained your dog to be nice to strangers, odds are s/he will be :-P

  • Close most shades - avoid showing off what's worth stealing. Keep a few open, though, so it looks like someone's home.

  • Lock up valuables - a bank safe-deposit box or a heavy-duty comination safe that can be bolted to the floor are good options. If you go for the home safe, consider keeping it on the first floor to avoid having it fall through the floor in the event of a fire. Real Simple suggest the Gardall brand.

  • Keep two jewelry boxes - I'm not a jewelry person, so this is lost on me. Have a nice box with inexpensive pieces, and keep the "good stuff" in a safe.

  • Lock away guns - treat like you would treat any valuable.

  • Get an alarm system - installation can vary, and monitoring fees run about $35 a month

  • Make your stuff harder to sell - engrave big ticket items like electronics and computers with initials and driver's license number (not your Social Security number).

Outside your home

  • Evaluate the landscaping - don't allow for good hiding places behind shrubs or trees too close to second floor windows that allow for easy climbing.

  • Check the lighting - install motion-detecting light sensors and have lights on random timers. Burglars prefer anonymity and tend to avoid well lit areas.

  • Secure windows and sliding glass doors - laminated glass and tempered glass are best. However, in the very least, put a metal bar or solid-wood dowel in the tracking to secure the door when closed. Unless our door is open, we always have a dowel in place.

  • Install-and use-reliable locks - locks aren't very effective if you don't use them

  • Fortify your doors - "Exterior doors, including the garage door, should be solid wood, fiberglass, or steel, and the hinges should be on the inside, not the outside." If yours has hinges on the outside, secure them with a locking pin.

  • Pur your street number, not your name, on the mailbox - this one's so old, I wouldn't even think of it. Thieves take your name and address, call information to get your number, and call you to see if your home. That said, if you're not listed, no worries.

  • Advertise an alarm system, even if you don't have one - try to get a spare sticker or the like from a friend since theives can spot fakes.

  • Declutter the yard - potential theives can use tools left in the yard to break into your home. How ironic.

  • Forget the fake rock and other hide-a-key tricks - "Theives know all the hiding spots you've though of." They suggest (1) give your neighbor a key or (2) buy a steel combination lockbox like the GE AccessPoint KeySafe. You can bolt it to something easily accessible for the whole family...the article references installing it right next to a door. Bold.

  • Don't leave the garage-door opener in your car exposed - it can be stolen and used later to enter your home.

  • Censor your trash - empty boxes of pricey items are red flags. You can "cut the carton up and tie the pieces together before you put them out on the curb." We have a dump within a couple of miles, so we just drop it off.

When you go on vacation

  • Enlist a trusted neighbor or a family member to park a car in your driveway, mow the lawn, shovel the snow. As for the car, consider a cab, bus, or having a friend drive you to the airport (if applicable).

  • Don't leave e-mail or phone message saying you're away - generic messages on your answering machine and email are best.

  • Suspend delivery of newspapers and mail - both can be done quickly and easily online. Check your newspaper's website for details. You can put your mail on hold here.


Anonymous said...

You should protect your home against itself when going on vacation. Probably the most important things to do are to:

* Unplug any unnecessary electrical items (toasters, blenders, etc). Why risk an electrical fire should something malfunction if you don't have to?
* Turn off the water to the washing machine. You are changing the hoses every 3-5 years, right?

You should also think about energy consumption while you're away.

* Turn off or adjust the setpoint of your air conditioning.
* Set your water heater to the lowest setting.

Have a fun and safe vacation.

MetaMommy said...

Those are great points. I hadn't considered the energy concerns, but they make a whole lot of sense. I'll be sure to add those to my "to do" list.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

WOW - Ireland? I'm SO jealous!! I hope your son does good on the long flight. I'm sure he will. Right? Either way, should be a GREAT blog post! ;-)

MetaMommy said...

I'll try to make the occasional post while away, but I'll be sure to have a fun wrap up when we get back :-)