A few years ago, when I was preparing to go on vacation, I realized that having a vacation checklist would not only help get the family out the door faster but keep the house nice and secure while we’re gone.
Going away on vacation is always very stressful because I don’t like leaving my house unattended, and I’m sure most people feel the same way.
I have a punch list of things that I do to prepare my house for vacation mode. Hopefully, you can pick up a couple of ideas from me to make your travel away from home a little less stressful.
How to protect your house while away on vacation?
- Service your security system before you go away
- keep a low profile on social media
- Keep valuables in a safe or a safe deposit box
- Stop mail delivery from the post office
- Don’t order anything from Amazon before you go away
- Lock your yard gates
- Shut off the water in the house
- Make sure your outdoor security lights are working
- Install WiFi timers for indoor lights
- Lock your outside garage door
- Don’t let your GPS lead the burglars straight to your house
- Take the garage door openers out of any car in the driveway
- Leave a car in the driveway or ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway
- Secure your sliding door
- Close all the shades and curtains
- Cameras under $50 can keep an eye on inside your home
- Turn down the thermostats
- Install low-temperature sensors
1. Service your security system before you go away
I install and service security systems for a living, so having a security system monitored by a central station is the first on my list.
I rely on having an alarm system, and I use it every day, especially when I’m away on vacation because I don’t have to worry that someone is in my home without knowing about it.
I always make sure that I do a checkup on my alarm system before I go away because I know that if I don’t, something will go wrong when I’m away on vacation.
- Replace the battery in my control panel if it’s more than three years old.
- Visually inspect all the sensors on the doors and windows to make sure nothing is loose.
- Clean and test all smoke detectors.
These are just a few simple things I do to ensure I don’t have to deal with any false alarms while I’m away.
2. Keep a low profile on social media
Don’t let everyone on Facebook and Instagram know that you’re going away or post about all the fun things you’re doing on vacation. Wait until you get back from vacation.
3. Keep the good stuff in a safe or safe deposit box
By good stuff, I mean the things that are not only valuable but things that would be hard to replace or recover. For example:
- My Ipads
- Important papers
- The hard drives that I keep all my important files and pictures on
I always put the cash and jewelry where no one can get to them. If you have a safe make sure it’s bolted to the floor because it’s not that hard to take a hundred pound safe out the door. I bought a fireproof wall safe that’s bolted to the wall framing.
4. Stop mail delivery from the post office
I had no idea you could even do this. I always had a neighbor pick up the mail every day, and we all know that a full mailbox is a clear indication that no one is home.
Now I go to the post office and fill out a postcard requesting to stop the mail and keeping it stopped until I pick my mail from the post office when I return from vacation.
5. Don’t order anything from Amazon before you go away.
I don’t know how many times we’ve been away on vacation, and I get a notification from my ring video doorbell that there is someone at my front door, and when I look at the camera, sure enough, there is a package sitting on my front steps.
Having a package sitting on your front steps for a week is probably the number one sign to a burglar that there is no one home and a sure way to get your package stolen if not having your home broken into.
6. Lock your yard gates
The way I see it, why give someone access to my backyard. If someone wants to break into my house, chances are they’re going to try from the back where no one can see them.
Putting locks on my fence gates makes it that much harder to gain access to my property.
7. Shut off the water in the house
Some people can be very evil when they break into your home. Not only do they want to steal your valuables, but sometimes they can destroy your house just for fun.
What stops someone from smashing your toilet tank and letting the water pour out or plugging the drain in your sink and leaving the water running.
This happened to someone I know. They had a foot of water in their basement when they returned from vacation because
They didn’t have someone stopping by to check on the house every
I like to turn off all the water in the house
8. Make sure your outdoor security lights are working
I installed security lights that connect to my home’s WiFi, and I can turn on the lights on a schedule from dusk till dawn.
Before I go away, I always make sure they come on at night and shut off in the morning.
9. Install WiFi timers for indoor lights
I was using the old-fashioned manual timers to plug in a couple of lamps while I was away, but now I installed lamp modules that connect to my home’s WiFi and automatically turn the light on from dusk till dawn.
I like them so much that I leave them plugged in all year round because sometimes we work late or go out to dinner straight after work, and I don’t have to worry about leaving the house with all the lights off.
10. Lock your outside garage door
I never knew about this myself until I saw a video on YouTube of a guy breaking into a garage in under six seconds using nothing more than a coat hanger.
He put the coat hanger into the garage from the gap on top of the door, felt his way around until he found the emergency door release, and opened the door.
This technique is even easier if your garage door has glass panels on it where the burglar can see where the door release lever is.
If you have a door going into the garage from the house, the best thing to do is to disconnect this lever yourself and lock the garage door so no one can open it or unplug the garage door opener from the electrical outlet and lock the door.
11. Don’t let your GPS lead the burglars straight to your house
Take your GPS and car registration out of your car. For those of us who have built in-vehicle navigation or a GPS in our cars, I’m sure that there is a favorite place labeled “Home” with your address which can lead a burglar straight to your house.
Then he can use the garage door opener in your car to open your garage door and walk right into your house, so If you plan on leaving your car at the long-term parking at the airport, here are two things you should do.
Take your car’s registration and insurance cards out of your car because they both have your home’s address on them.
If you have a GPS in your vehicle, don’t program your address as home. Instead, delete this address or program a location a few blocks away and make sure you take your garage door opener out of the car.
12. Take the garage door openers out of any cars in the driveway
Burglars like it when you leave your garage door opener in your car while you’re away, giving them easy access to your garage.
It’s best to take the garage door opener out of the vehicle, or if you have disabled your garage door opener, then it’s not a problem.
13. Leave a car in the driveway or ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway
Suppose you plan on leaving your car at the airport while you’re away on vacation. You might want to ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway to give the appearance that someone is home.
An empty driveway is a pretty good indication that no one is home.
14. Secure your sliding door
Most of us have a sliding door leading to the backyard, and even though we keep it locked, it is very easy for a burglar to bypass the lock unless we install a secondary lock or a piece of wood to prevent the door from opening.
A secondary lock attaches to the top or bottom of the door and has a deadbolt drilled into the door frame, making it much harder to open.
15. Close all the shades and curtains
Leaving the blinds and shades open during the day might not be a big deal, but at night you’re giving a would-be burglar a clear view into your home, especially if you have the lights on a timer or even worse if there are no lights on at all.
16. Wireless cameras under $50 can keep an eye on inside your home
I bought three indoor wireless cameras on Amazon for under $50 each, and I put them in the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom.
I put them on top of the counter or table, and I have a pretty good view of the house while I’m gone. Some of them even have motion detection to get an alert on your cell phone.
17. Turn down the thermostats
This isn’t security-related, but why heat or cool the house for a week if no one is home.
I usually turn down the heat to about 55 degrees in the winter and most often turn off the air conditioning completely off depending on the time of the year.
18. Install low-temperature sensors
Having your heating system fail in the winter can be a complete disaster. In cold winter months, having no heat can cause your pipes to freeze and burst, flooding your home.
Imagine the damage of having water pouring out the pipes for a week or two while you’re gone. I have two low-temperature sensors installed in my home, one on the first floor and one on the second floor.
I have them connected to my security system, so if the temperature drops below 50 degrees, I get a call from my central station and receive an alert on an app on my phone to alert me.
You can have these sensors connected to your security system by your alarm company, or you can purchase low-temperature sensors from Amazon that you can install yourself and get notifications on your phone.
By now, you might be thinking, this guy is out of his mind, but this is the actual punch list that I use to get the house ready for vacation. But even if you do just some of the things on my list, you significantly increase the security of your home while you’re away.
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