Even though crime rates in the U.S. have been dropping since the 1990s, in 2015, the most recent year we have numbers from the FBI, there were 1,579,527 burglaries. That’s a house, apartment, or condominium burglarized every 15 seconds. This number proves that all of us should take whatever precautions possible to prevent property theft, especially those who travel for long periods of time. Here are some tips on how you can keep your house safe while you travel this winter.
House Safety Dos and Don’ts
You might already be familiar with some of the following tips, but it can be helpful to remind ourselves of all the possible steps we can take to keep our homes and belongings safe. You might even want to make a list that you store with other important documents, or bookmark this article!
- Keep bushes and other vegetation trimmed and small. Never leave large plants overgrowing your windows and doors. It makes it much too easy for someone to hide when breaking in.
- Invest in motion sensor lights. Thieves avoid well-lit areas when seeking out places they can hide their actions.
- Set some of your interior lights on timers to come on and go off at different hours of the evening. This is especially important for people who take long trips away from home.
- Stop newspaper and mail delivery. Make your home look occupied. Most burglaries occur in unoccupied houses.
- Have someone perform any snow removal that might be necessary while you’re out of town, shoveling the driveway and any sidewalks.
- If you have a friend or relative who could spend some time in your home while you’re away, invite them to do so.
- Make friends with your neighbors. Neighborhood Crime Watch programs really work! Also, neighbors who have connected with you personally are more likely to notice odd things happening at your house.
- Never announce on social media that you’re going away for a long trip. In fact, be careful about what photos you post while away. Make sure everyone in your family knows this important rule.
- Don’t leave a key under a mat or inside one of those fake rocks.
- Make sure all of your windows and doors are closed and locked. This might seem obvious but if you like fresh air, you may be used to having windows open or closed but not fully locked while you’re in the house.
- Don’t leave jewelry or other small valuables in view from any window of your home. In fact, it’s a good idea to pull some of your drapes shut. You don’t want all of them closed since that will make your home look unoccupied, but you also don’t want to give a full view of your belongings through the windows.
Investing in a Home Alarm System
One of the best ways to keep your house safe, whether for a long trip like the winter or for shorter stays, is by installing an alarm system.
There are a wide array of systems on the market that offer many features like:
- Smoke, broken glass and carbon monoxide alarms
- Motion detectors that sound the alarm if a person is detected in a room
- Door and window contact alarms
- Pressure sensitive alarms hidden under rugs
These systems can be installed by a company that will offer monitored or unmonitored alarms. An unmonitored alarm means a loud sound goes off that will potentially frighten away any intruder. In the case of a monitored alarm, a signal is sent to a monitoring station and the alarm company then notifies you to ask if it’s a false alarm or if they need to contact the police.
DIY Alarm Systems
Recently it’s become possible for homeowners to be their own monitoring station with devices that send messages directly to their smartphones or computers. You can install security cameras that play a video feed directly to your laptop so it’s easy to see what’s going in your home at any time. The downside is monitoring the feed. What if something happens hours before you check?
There are DIY devices that handle this. You can install tech like Nest, which not only comes with cameras but also carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. You can even set up a DIY home security system with motion detectors and window and door alarms and you’ll be notified via the app when the system’s alarm is triggered.
Whichever system you choose, make sure to take the necessary steps to keep your home safe if you’re going to be away for an extended time.