Murphy’s Law for travelers: If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong while you’re on holiday — which is arguably the worst time a household calamity can strike. Coming home from your honeymoon, African safari or Mediterranean cruise can be gloomy. But returning from a memorable journey and learning something has gone seriously wrong at home can be devastating.
Whether you are going a away for a few nights or a couple of weeks, it is important to assess your homes and security before you leave. A house left empty while its owners are traveling is a tempting target for criminals. Basic preventative measures (which take only minutes to complete) can make a huge difference.
Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house while you’re away. Having someone drive by your home once every day or so and check on the place means they will notice straight away if something is amiss. Give this person a key to your house and car – you never know when your vehicle may need to be moved. He or she should also have your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of emergencies.
Would you announce to a crowd that you will be leaving your house unattended for two weeks this December? If not, then you should think twice about posting your detailed holiday plans on Twitter or Facebook.
Be careful what you say on your voice mail too. Callers don’t need to know that you’re not home – they just need to know that you can’t come to the phone right now.
Your local neighbours may go out of their way to drive by your house while on patrol, especially if you live in a small town.
Before you leave, you may decide to close your curtains to prevent people from peering inside your home to see whether you’re there. However, closed curtains also stop those who aim to help – the police, your neighbors or friends – from seeing inside your house. So what’s your best bet? Leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you’re home, since noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around anymore. Move expensive items, like jewelry or computers, out of plain sight if they’re visible from the window.
Don’t leave your lights on at home throughout your holiday in an effort to make it look like someone is in the house.
Instead, purchase a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule. Criminals keeping an eye on your house will notice lights flipping on and off, and will probably assume someone is doing the flipping.
Either place a “stop” order on mail and newspapers, or arrange to have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail while you’re away. A week’s worth of papers piled on your front step could signal to criminals that you are out of town.
Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven and other appliances to protect them from power surges. Do this to save power as well.