Leaving a house unoccupied often or for a long stretch is one of the biggest risk factors for getting burglarized.
So if you're thinking of taking an extended vacation or plan to leave your home unattended for several weeks, why not consider a house-sitter? A house-sitter is a person who lives in and cares for a house while the regular occupant is away.
This person should be someone with whom you feel truly comfortable, such as a responsible family member or friend. After all, the best defense against burglary is having people live in your home while you're away.
But don't assume that all house-sitters are security-conscious. Your comfort levels would surely decline if you found out the person trusted to look after your precious belongings was security-complacent. Having a house-sitter forget to secure doors and windows properly certainly doesn't sit well with me as a homeowner.
You also don't want the house-sitter rushing out for the evening without arming the alarm system - thinking of it is enough to send chills up my spine. That's why it's important to make sure that your house-sitter has the same perception about home security as you do.
It's imperative that you stress how important it is to follow strict security measures at all times. Don't think a house-sitter will protect your home 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Very few people are ready to give up their daily schedules for such a cause.
But stressing the importance of a few basic home security tips never hurts. Go over the basics with the sitter, such as maintaining the garden and lawns, putting out the trash, changing burnt-out light bulbs and picking up the mail and newspapers daily.
Because the majority of burglaries happen during the day while people are at work, it's important to stress that your home should be secured at all times. Your house-sitter should make sure to lock all doors and windows and set the burglar alarm before leaving.
Never give your alarm code or password to anybody. Before you leave, call your alarm company and request a temporary alarm code for your house-sitter. This code is to be used only while you're away. When you return home you should deactivate the code immediately.
Remember to check with your insurance company before settling on a house-sitter. Some insurance companies view a house-sitter as a tenant and are concerned about the issues that arise from having your home tenant-occupied. But for the most part, insurance companies generally prefer to have your home occupied while you're away.
Otherwise, if you are unfortunate enough to become a burglary victim while your home has been unoccupied for 30 consecutive days (some insurers extend this to 60 days), quite often you will not be able to make an insurance claim.
Frank Fourchalk is widely recognized for his sustained commitment to education in Home and Business security throughout North America as a result of his syndicated newspaper columns. Mr. Fourchalk has written for The Toronto Star, The Vancouver Province, and several other daily newspapsers including the New York Post. For more information on your home security check out http://www.yourhomesecurity.ca