Vacations are a great way to recharge and de-stress, especially from the bitter cold winters here in Chicago.
When you’re away from your home for any length of time, it’s important to protect your property and belongings. Protection from potential break-ins, fires, and any other potential safety issues. There are things you can do to reduce your risk and even if something were to happen, to help you react faster.
Here are 7 tips to help keep your home safe:
1) Tell relatives and close friends you trust you’ll be away. If you have relatives or close friends living nearby, you can ask them to check in on your home. Ask them to check once a day, or as often as they can, while you’re away. Make sure they have your number, email, and know what hotel you’re staying at. Remember to give them a key so they can go inside, water the plants, check the kitchen, the bathrooms, anything electric that’s left plugged in, the thermostat setting, the locks, the doors, and the windows (Note: only give keys to someone you are 100% sure you can trust).
2) Get to know your neighbors. This may seem like a given, but in this day and age of social media interactions, it never hurts to state the obvious. Get to know your neighbors, start with your neighbors on either side of you and across your street. They can provide a lookout and if you really trust them (of course, it can be tough to know if you really can trust them), you may want to give them a key to your house. The benefits are mutual, you can watch out for each other and make some new friends in the process. Keep in mind, some areas have neighborhood watch groups that meet regularly and keep an eye on each other’s homes; they provide a great opportunity to not only get help watching your home but also for you to get involved in your neighborhood.
3) Have someone you trust house sit. This is usually a good idea if you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time. Your chosen house sitter will actually move in for some (or all) of the time you’ll be gone. You’ll still be paying for the mortgage/rent, utilities, and upkeep… So often payment isn’t necessary, but a gift and thank you goes a long way in showing your appreciation.
4) Inform your local Police Department. In big cities this probably isn’t feasible but in smaller towns/areas where the police are a bit more intimate with the community this may be a good option. Check to see if they have the ability for you to list your home on a “Vacation List” so local officers can do a neighborhood drive through once in a while and check on your home. After all, it makes their jobs easier if they are informed
5) Install Web cameras and light timers. It’s fairly easy to install light timers and have cameras installed. Put cameras in strategic locations, at your front door, back door, bedrooms, in the basement and/or anywhere else strategic. You can monitor cameras through an app or online Web site. With some security camera systems you may also have alerts sent to you, so you can call the Police Department and/or Fire Department yourself from where ever you are. Timers are another great option, not only for lights but they can also be used on radios and TVs (just make sure the volume isn’t too high or you’ll have some unhappy neighbors when you get back).
6) DO NOT post on Facebook or any other social media about your travels. Publicly posting on social media gives anyone access to your comments and pictures. While you’re hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles away posting pictures of the beach (or your favorite getaway destination); burglars will know they have an opportunity to break in while you are gone. Also, be careful about “checking in” on sites like Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, or any other social media site. You could private message specific people to be better protected, but it’s best if you don’t post your vacation pics/comments until after you return home.
7) Consider a professional alarm service. While this is a more costly option, it’s sure to give you some peace of mind. There are many companies to choose from, to find one that’s right for you do some research online and ask friends and family for recommendations. Keep in mind, many alarm companies also come with contracts that keep you locked in for a certain period of time (for example, some are contracts for two years).
Real Estate Broker - Berkshire Hathaway KoenigRubloff Realty Group Chicago
* Note and Legal Disclaimer: These are just a few things to consider, this list is put together with good intentions, use it or don’t. The choice is yours, if you do use these recommendations you agree to hold harmless the author and all affiliated businesses. Bottom line: you should be aware no matter what you do you may get robbed, while I truly hope this never happens to you, by using any of my tips you agree not to sue me (sorry to have to be so blunt, but we live in a litigious society)