Keeping your home safe is important no matter what time of year you plan on traveling. But leaving home from Thanksgiving through New Year's can be extra fraught, thanks to unpredictable weather and an annual spike in home break-ins and stolen porch packages. Before you pack up the car and the kids to head for grandma's house, there are 12 important tasks you should complete to help ensure all stays well on the home front while you're away.
1. Don’t post your travel plans on social media. It’s hard not to humblebrag about an amazing upcoming vacation on Facebook, but even with a private profile, you never know who is checking to see if your house is empty. Save the status updates for after you return home.
2. Double check holiday lights and wiring. Christmas lights look festive both indoors and out, but faulty wiring or overloading an outlet can be a fire hazard. Be sure to look for frayed wiring and unplug lights when not in use.
3. Hire someone to clear the snow and sprinkle the salt. A snow-covered driveway and front entrance are clear indicators to thieves that no one is home. Additionally, homeowners are still responsible for injuries on their property while they’re away, so if someone slips on the icy driveway, you’re accountable.
4. Invest in a timer for lights. Setting lights on a nightly timer deters thieves by giving the illusion that someone is home.
5. Have a friend drop by to check for delivered packages and store them somewhere more secure than the front porch.
6. Keep the curtains slightly closed and before you leave, take a minute to look in your own windows from the street and check if valuables are easily visible. If they are, consider moving them somewhere inconspicuous.
7. Unplug your automatic garage door opener to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote.
8. If you live in a cold climate, make sure water pipes are insulated and keep the heat on low. A cold snap can freeze the pipes and cause them to burst.
9. Lose the hidden key. If you have a hidden spare key placed near an entrance, take it with you while you’re gone (or store it safely inside your house). Chances are a thief can easily find it and walk right in the front door.
10. Lock up jewelry and small valuables. You might consider putting jewelry and important paperwork in a safety deposit box at the bank while you’re on vacation.
11. Double check your door and window locks. It’s easy for you to overlook the lock on a spare bedroom window, but thieves usually enter a home through an open door or window.
12. Invest in a monitored or unmonitored security system. Monitored systems are more expensive, but they provide the added benefit of the alarm company contacting emergency services on your behalf if they detect a problem. An unmonitored system (like an installed doorway camera you can watch from your phone) is cheaper, but you will need to monitor the camera and call the police if necessary.
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