How to Protect Your Home When You’re Away
Your home means the world to you — it’s the foundation of your family’s treasured memories. And protecting it has always been a priority, but it seems even more so when you’re traveling. We want to help you stay safe and protect your property, which is why we’ve developed the following list to help put your mind at ease when you’re away.
Is Your Home’s Exterior Prepped for Your Vacation?
Whether you’re worried about burglars or simply want to keep your ‘best lawn in the neighborhood’ bragging rights, protecting the exterior of your home matters. You know what’s most important to you, but we’ve got some tips to help boost your peace of mind.
Have your mail held. Don’t let a build-up of mail tip off thieves. The post office will hold your mail for free from 3 to 30 days. You can stop in the office and fill out a form or simply visit the United States Postal Office’s Hold Mail website and make the request digitally.
What if you’ll be gone more than 30 days? You can have your mail forwarded to a new address or to a friend’s house. The post office also offers premium forwarding services for a monthly fee. They’ll hold your mail and then forward it in weekly batches.
Stop subscriptions. Much like your mail, when newspapers and other subscriptions begin to pile up, it’s an obvious sign that nobody is home. Rather than waiting for a friend or neighbor to grab them, it’s best to simply suspend the subscriptions. Most newspapers will credit you for the time they’re not delivering, but check with your other services to see if they’ll offer the same deal. This way you’re not only protecting your home, you’re saving money too!
Rethink the spare key. If you have a spare key under the mat, or any other obvious place, either bring it inside when you’re gone or come up with a foolproof hiding spot. The last thing you want to do is give a thief the key.
Bring your valuables inside. Don’t forget to give your outside a once over. Do you have a bike, a grill, some favorite lawn ornaments sitting out? Too often we forget that there are valuables out there that might be appealing to thieves or vandals.
Buy some curtains. If you have a shed, garage or other storage building that has windows, buy some curtains! By hanging curtains, you can hide any valuable equipment, tools, cars, or bicycles that might be stored inside from plain sight. Don’t want to invest in curtains? Cardboard and black garbage bags can work in a pinch.
Use outdoor lighting. Timed lights that come on once it gets dark and motion lights are great theft deterrents. No criminal wants to be caught in a spotlight. Don’t worry, you don’t have to invest in an expensive system. There are very small and inexpensive, battery-operated motion lights that you can tuck up next to your doors and surprise any nighttime visitors.
Get some signs. You don’t need to have a dog to put up a Beware of Dog sign. You might even be able to get some home security stickers that make your home look more protected than it actually is. Advertising that your home is protected, even when it’s not, might just do the trick and scare off burglars.
Watch your landscaping. Shrubs can make great hiding places. Keep your landscaping under control so it doesn’t work against you. You’ll also want to make sure your lawn is mowed and watered if you’re away for an extended period of time. Whether you hire a service or ask a friend to help, don’t let your lawn give you away.
How Can You Protect What’s Inside Your Home?
Now that you feel pretty good about the exterior of your home, let’s look at the interior. The following tips can help relieve some of that worry and set your mind at ease.
Lock up. This may sound obvious, but leaving windows, doors or even a garage service door unlocked can make your home just as vulnerable as leaving the front door wide open. Check and double check that all doors and windows are locked before you leave.
Get help from a friend. Having a friend check on your home every day or two can go a long way toward making your home seem lived in. Have them turn on different lights every day, open/close curtains, pull out the garbage, bring in the mail, feed pets, water plants and more. The more often your friend can stop by, the better.
Tell your neighbors. Are your neighbors good friends? If so, let them know when you’re going to be away so they can keep an eye on your home. Just make sure you tell them about anyone who will be stopping by — you don’t want to create any false alarms and awkward situations.
Practice social silence. While you want to share pictures of your trip, you also don’t want to advertise that you’re not home. Rather than posting, tweeting and sharing pictures as they happen, consider posting them once you return. If you absolutely must share events as they happen, check your social media safety by adjusting privacy settings so only your friends, or even just a pre-specified group, can see where you are.
Hide your valuables. If your curtains are going to be open, so it looks like you’re home, make sure your valuables aren’t on display. Hide jewelry, computers and other expensive items so thieves can’t go window shopping.
Unplug appliances. Did you know that your appliances are using a low amount of energy, even when you’re not using them? Stop this energy waste when you travel by unplugging all unnecessary appliances. This also eliminates the risk of power surges causing damage.
Protect your pipes. Are you taking a nice warm vacation during the coldest season? Good for you! Before you hit the beach, make sure your home is prepared for a cold snap. Protect your pipes from the cold by wrapping any exposed outside, attic, and crawlspace pipes with insulation.
Make some noise. If a thief approaches your house and hears a TV or radio, they’ll either split or think twice about breaking into your home. Leave something playing or put it on a remote switch so it comes on in the evening hours. A timer switch is a great way to make it look like you’re home, but a smart plug can be even better. There are several different companies who make smart plugs and they can be very affordable. Download the corresponding app and control anything plugged into it from your smart phone.
Rely on smart technology. Smart smoke detectors and water leak sensors send alerts to your computer and/or smart phone so you’re immediately aware of any issues, even when you’re on the road. Some smart smoke detectors will also alert emergency services
Get Frontpoint security system. Feel secure and confident whenever you’re not home with Frontpoint. Not only do they offer you a security system, they also give you smoke detectors and water leak sensors. From top-to-bottom you’re protected and you might even qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance, too. As an American Family Insurance customer, you qualify for exclusive savings that gives you protection for less.
Update your homeowners insurance. The best way to protect your home, both inside and out, is to be proactive and take care of what matters most. It’s a great idea to connect with your American Family Insurance agent every year or two to review your policies and make sure you have all the coverage you need. And, better yet, to make sure you’re getting all the discounts you qualify for, too.
Even when you’re away from your home, it’s still one of your top priorities. With the right precautions you not only protect your home, you keep it in the best condition possible.