You are on a comfortable deck chair in the Caribbean, a fruity ‘adult drink’ next to you; the sun is high above, kissing your well-oiled skin. Suddenly, you cannot remember if you left the radio on, or if you locked the patio door.
A colourful expletive leaves your lips. You could call a friend, relative or ask a neighbour to check it out – but that would mean getting out the comfy chair, finding a phone, making an expensive long distance call. Why not travel with the confidence, knowing you secured your home from end-to-end!
The whole idea of taking a vacation is to be able to relax, clear your mind of all stress and let your body rejuvenate. Worrying about your home while drinking Mojitos on the beach is a not a proper vacation!
You can prevent that unnecessary stress and safeguard your home from end to end simply and easily. In addition, it does not have to cost you a lot of money! Often, simply using what you have already or with a nominal investment of some devices, you can make your house unbreachable!
12 Simple Ways to Safeguard Your Home!
You can use the links below to find out more about your options online.
1. Make a checklist: In the weeks preceding your trip, make a list of what you need to do, so that in the rush to pack and get to the airport, you do not forget something.
2. Alarm system: Needless to say, an alarm system is a great idea whether you are travelling or not. Many alarm companies offer remote monitoring features so you can control your home’s security from your smartphone from anywhere in the world. As a bonus, you may get a discount on your house insurance as well!
Have a local trusted (local) person as the alarm contact: All alarm companies require you to have a local contact should there be any issues. Make sure you have informed your preferred contact with your verbal password and have added them to your authority list with the company.
3. Auto-sensing lights/timers: Install timers throughout your home and set the times that you normally have lights on. Install them a few weeks before you plan to travel so are confident they are activated as desired. Alternately, you can install lights with motion sensor that comes on by itself when it detects any movement. This too can be connected to a socket with a timer so it will only come on with motion in the evening.
4. Tell a trusted neighbour you are away: Let a neighbour with whom you have a good relationship know you are travelling and leave them a phone number for a friend or family member in case there is an issue with your home. As well, they can collect your mail or water your plants if you trust them implicitly.
5. Stop your newspaper delivery & redirect your mail: Newspapers piled up at your door are a clear indication no one is home. Stop the newspaper delivery a few days before you leave. Have you mail redirected to your parents or in-law if you are away for a long duration. Post and mail redirecting service can be arranged at the local post office for a fee. This stops mail for clogging up your post box or worst spilling out of it.
6. If it’s winter, hire a company to clear your walkway/driveway: Untouched snow and ice is not only a hazard but also indicates that no one is home. Making sure your sidewalk and walkways are cleared will give the impression there is activity at your home. As well, there may be a young person on your street you who can pay in advance to take care of all shovelling and snow clearing.
7. Leave a radio on (on a timer): Noise in the house will also deter potential intruders from entering your home. Leaving a radio on a timer is a great way to have ambient noise during normal waking hours. If you have a music streaming device that can be controlled remotely such as the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Sonos One, UE Blast, KitSound Voice One, JBL Link 10, 20 and 300, Sony LF-S50G, Google Home or Google Home Mini, these can be set to stream online radio stations too.
8. Have a friend/relative drop by the house while you are away to check up on things: Knowing someone has their eyes on your home will greatly reduce your stress while trying to de-stress! They can send you a message or send a pic to confirm your home is safe.
9. Set up a webcam or IP camera: If you have a computer in a common area, use the onboard camera to your advantage. By using a remote control utility, like LogMeIn or TeamViewer, you can log into your home PC from wherever you are and see what is happening in your home, anytime. Each is free for personal use! Note that this however, requires your home PC to be left on.
Standalone Wireless IP cameras are cheap and easy to install. There are even those that can pan, tilt and zoom and work wirelessly through your home network. Get a couple of these and set them up in door or outdoor. Once connected, you can use the companion app or PC to ‘dial-in’ or get instant notifications when somebody is in the house.
10. Keep an irregular schedule in the weeks before your vacation: Change your routine, even by coming home at lunchtime a few times in case someone is watching your house. This will deter anyone from casing your house and know your routine.
11. Don’t post on social media that your house is empty – wait till you get back to post all your amazing photos. Intruders will troll social media to see when you are away from your home and take advantage of it. Why not take a vacation from social media as well!
12. Consider installing smart home devices that you can control from your smartphone: For a nominal amount of investment, installing Wi-Fi enabled, App accessible smart home devices to control your lights, door access, security cameras or even appliance management (furnace, water heater, stove and more) means you can take control of your home remotely.
BONUS: Fortify Your Home and Keep Criminals at Bay
Take a good look at your home and identify areas that may be easy to access, or could use some repair to strengthen them – like doors, windows or dodgy locks. Apply home security stickers on your windows indicating that the house is totally protected. Your home is your castle and you want to protect it.
So, with a little planning and some common sense, you will know with confidence your home is safe while you enjoy your well-deserved holidays.
Make that list! Buy those timers and travel with confidence. Most importantly, book that trip!
Edited by Samuel Tan