Last Updated on July 13, 2020
Going on vacation is exciting, but it can also be stressful. You’ll be leaving your home unattended for a week, or even longer, which can fill you with worry. An opportunistic criminal could break in while you’re away, exploiting your absence, or a disaster like a fire could strike, and you wouldn’t be able to react in time to mitigate it.
Fortunately, there are some basic safety precautions you can take to improve your security.
Basic Safety Tips Before You Leave on Vacation
Follow these steps before you leave on vacation:
- Do routine cleaning and maintenance. It may seem like a minor detail, but conducting a thorough round of cleaning and household maintenance can alert you to small things that may be awry. For example, when you clean and inspect the fireplace, you can look for potential safety hazards. Plus, when you return from vacation, you’ll come home to a clean house—which will make it easier to reacclimate to daily life.
- Set up remote cameras. Security cameras are inexpensive these days, so consider setting up a few in and around your home. At any time, you can log into your account and see what’s going on in your home. And if something does happen (like a break-in), you’ll have video evidence you can use to track down the culprit.
- Turn down (or turn off) your water heater. If your water heater leaks or sustains too much pressure while you’re away on vacation, it could cause extensive water damage in your home. Take this time to inspect the water heater, and turn the temperature down. This is much safer and could also save you money while you’re away.
- Add timers to your lights. Clever criminals sometimes look for homes in a given neighborhood where the lights are consistently off; it’s a sign that the property may not be occupied. You can easily discourage these types of thieves by assigning your lights to timers. Automatically turn your lights on periodically to ward off these threats.
- Pause or have someone collect your mail. If you allow your daily mail to accumulate in your mailbox, it could be a sign that the property is vulnerable. Fortunately, it’s easy to have USPS hold your mail for a temporary period of time. If you’re still concerned, you could have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail periodically during your trip.
- Avoid posting on social media. It’s tempting to post about your vacation on social media, as you approach your departure date and throughout your trip. However, if your posts are public, opportunists could take advantage of your absence. Wait until you get back from your vacation to start posting about it.
- Keep everything locked. This should be an obvious tip, but make sure you keep everything locked while you’re away, including your doors, your windows, and external areas like sheds and garages. Most would-be burglars want to get in as fast and easily as possible, so sometimes all it takes is a simple lock to deter them. If you have someone housesitting or checking in on your property, make sure they lock up after themselves as well.
- Remove hidden spare keys. Many homeowners hide a spare key just outside their door, such as under the rug, but this is an inherently unsafe practice. If you’re on vacation, you shouldn’t have a need for your spare key anyway. Remove the spare key and consider finding a better spot for it in the future.
- Recruit a friend or neighbor to check on things. Even if you don’t want to hire a house sitter, it’s a good idea to have a friend or neighbor pop into your property to check on things periodically. They could collect your mail, monitor for damage, and make sure everything remains locked and secure. If you have a neighbor, they can also keep a loose eye on your property to make sure nobody attempts to enter without your permission.
- Stash your valuables. If you have valuable items, like important paperwork, gold, or cash, make sure they’re secured before you leave on vacation. Depending on your needs and the value of those valuables, you may be able to store them in a secure safe in your home, or you may store them in a safety deposit box.
Understand the Risks
If you’ve taken these precautions, try not to stress about your home while you’re gone. Even without these precautions, break-ins and catastrophes are relatively rare, and if you’ve taken these precautions, you’ll be at far reduced risk of experiencing them. Focus on enjoying yourself, and rely on your cameras, neighbors, or friends to handle the rest.