The 5 Minute Security Guide To Less Stress When On Holidays
Going on holidays can be stressful as it is. The last thing you want is to come home to a house that has been broken into.
Burglary is, unfortunately, becoming more common these days, however, it is very easy to avoid. Here are some easy checks you can do leading up to a family holiday.
Let’s start with what you can do if your holiday is not for a while.
Fortify You Home
This is someone you can do if you have a bit of time up your sleeve and won’t be going on holidays for a couple of weeks. By reviewing the security of your home now will make it far less stressful when you are away on holidays. The last thing you want to find out as your are walking out the door for your holiday is to find out you have faulty locks.
There are a number of things you can do to fortify your home.
- Secure your front and back doors. Make sure they are of solid construction such as solid wood or metal. Stain glass may look nice, but they make it easy for someone to break in.
- Make sure you have solid double cylinder deadbolts installed on the main entrances to your home.
- Get security lighting. A spotlight shone on someone sneaking around your home is an excellent deterrent.
- Advertise your home is secure. Place generic security signs in obvious places such as entrances and mailbox.
- For an extra layer of security get a safe for jewellery, spare cash, or important documents such as passports and your children’s birth certificates.
Each of these can make a massive difference in the security of your home.
Get Involved With Your Neighbourhood Watch
Again this is someone you can organise well in advance before you go on holidays.
Neighbourhood Watch is a group of residents in your community who keep a lookout for suspicious activity in their local neighbourhood and report it to the police. Check to see if a neighbourhood watch group exists in your suburb.
If you have a good relationship with your next door neighbour, you can kindly ask them to keep an eye on your home while you are away.
If you want, you can give them a spare key so they can collect your mail, or feed any pets you have. Don’t leave any spare keys under rocks, flowerpots or door mats. This is the first place a thief will look, so don’t do it. Hand it to your neighbour in person.
Don’t Publicise Your Plans
This is a common one and one I have been guilty of. If you or your kids are on social media don’t let the whole world know that you won’t be home. Other people, apart from you friends, can view this information and find out when the best time to break into your home will be.
Don’t leave a message on your phone’s answering machine stating that you are away. Keep it generic. Avoid leaving notes on the door pronouncing you are away or when you will return.
By knowing this information, an unwanted intruder will know that no one is home and the house is an easy target.
Check Your Alarm
Do you have an alarm? An alarm is an excellent deterrent for intruders. If you don’t have one, consider getting one installed.
Before you go on holidays be sure to check that your alarm is working properly. I recommend doing these checks two weeks before you leave, so you have plenty of time to fix any issues.
- Are all sensors are working and motion sensors are not inhibited by objects?
- Is the battery working and fully charged?
- Check your central monitoring station (the people that get notified if your alarm goes off) has up to date contact details for you or authorises friend or family member.
By doing this, you can rest assured that your security alarm is working at 100% and the intruders have no chance of breaking in without someone knowing.
Stop Any Deliveries Or Appointments
Do you receive newspapers, grocery deliveries or milk deliveries? Don’t forget to put them on hold for the period of time that you are away.
Double check you haven’t organised any appointments before you knew you were going on holidays. This could be with your doctor, dentist, or a tradesperson to maintain a part of your home. If you have got something organised postpone it till you get back. Don’t tell them why you are postponing it.
Pay Essential Bills In Advance
If you are away for a substantial period of time, the last thing you or the family want is to come home with no electricity or a huge overdue bill.
Check all services including electricity, gas, water phone and the internet and make sure that all outstanding or future bills are fully paid before you go.
Does Your Local Police Station Offer Patrol Services?
Double check if your police station offers patrol services for unattended homes during the holidays season. Not all police stations to this these days, however, it is always a good idea to let them know that you will be away. This means any suspicious activity around your home could be acted on quicker.
Make It Look Like You Are Home?
Can you remember the scene in Home Alone where Macaulay Culkin’s character pretended to have a party at his house with music, lights and puppets dancing behind curtains? In that scene, the Wet Bandits saw that the house was busy and moved on.
You don’t have to have music blaring and mannequins on strings to make it look like someone is home. You can find cheap timers at your local supermarket. You can attach these timers to lights, radios and televisions to simulate interior activity. Depending when you set the timer, the electronics will turn on for a period of time, before turning off again. It can be a great deterrent.
Another tip is if you have a nearby friend or trusted neighbour, ask them to park in your driveway while you are away.
An overflowing mailbox is a sure sign that no-one is home. Ask your friends or trusted neighbour to collect any mail you may get while you are away.
Do A Quick Tidy Of Your Lawn And House
An overgrown garden is a sure sign that the house has not been occupied for a while. This is a clear indicator that someone isn’t home.
Before you leave, make sure that you mow your lawn. If you are away for a significant amount of time, organise a friend or trusted neighbour to do it while you are away (and make sure to bring them a good bottle of wine afterwards).
Trim any bushes you have and remove potential hiding places burglars could use when sneaking around your yard.
Put all tools, bicycles and kids toys away and locked up in the Garage or shed. Make sure to secure your ladder too. Anything that can help someone enter your home should be out of reach and secure.
And lastly, close all blinds and curtains. Thieves like to scope out a place before they risk breaking in. If they can’t see what you have then they will be less likely to risk breaking in.
Don’t Pack The Night Before
There is a nothing more attractive to thieves that a fully loaded car with all your worldly possession inside ready for a road trip the next day.
If you do want to be prepared for an early start the next day, keep all bags and belongings ready to go at the front door. It may mean you have to get up half an hour earlier to pack the car, however, it will also mean you don’t have to worry about someone breaking into your car at night.
Check Everything Is Locked
This is the last thing you should do before you leave on your holiday. Do a quick walk around the house to make sure all windows and doors are locked.
Don’t forget to check that your Garden Shed, Gate, and Garage are also locked up. These are often forgotten but the last thing you want is your husband’s prized tools to have suddenly disappeared.
Make sure that your Electricity Box is also secure. Smart thieves will attempt to interfere with your home’s power supply which can affect your security lighting and alarm system. Locking it up makes it hard for the thief to do so.
Once all other windows and doors are locked, turn your alarm on, walk out your front door (don’t forget to lock that too) and enjoy your holiday. You can rest assured that your home is all the safer from burglary.
About The Author
Nathan Hughes is a founder of Locksmiths In Sydney. When he is not letting you back into your house at 4 am in the morning, he is dressed up as Iron Man running around at home with his family. Check out his simple free checklist to securing your home against intruders.