Keeping the “bad guys’ away while on vacation involves more common sense than expense. Maintaining living habits on the home front while away is crucial if you want to keep burglars’ at bay.
Lighting habits are very important. Although it is not necessary to keep a light on in every room of your home, keeping lights on in the rooms that your family usually occupies is a must. Set up a light timer (available at major hardware stores).
If you have outside motion lighting, make sure it is installed high enough so that the bulbs can't be unscrewed. Doors and windows should be properly secured before leaving on vacation. This includes basement windows, garage windows and even screen doors.
All exterior doors (including the inside garage door) should have deadbolt locks with one-inch throws and reinforced strike plates (the part on the frame that excepts the bolt). Don't forget to secure sliding glass doors and windows with auxiliary locks or a piece of wood in the track to prevent an intruder from forcing the door or window open. Install 2" screws in the top track to prevent a thief from lifting the door or window completely out of the track.
Make sure you unplug the electric overhead door opener. This will disable the unit and prevent anyone tampering with the frequencies to gain entry. If you have a manual overhead garage door make sure you wedge 2x4's between the top of the door and the ceiling of the garage, so it can't be opened from the outside.
If you trust your neighbors, let them know the dates when you'll be away and leave them a number where you can be reached in case of emergency. Notifying all your neighbors is not necessary, one or two will do. Leaving a key with a trusted neighbor, relative or even a friend might be an option. Make certain whoever has access to your home will know what to do in case of an emergency.
Have this trusted person pick up your mail and newspapers daily. Do not suspend mail and newspaper deliveries as a “bad guy" might pick up on the interruption of service. It's important to also have a friend maintain the watering of the garden and the cutting of the lawns.
Before leaving on that much needed vacation make sure you leave your blinds or curtains partially open. Call forward your home phone to a cell phone or another family member's residence. Turn phone ringer down to low or off.
Trim Shrubbery near your home entrance and walkways. Have your neighbor park their car in your driveway from time to time to make it look like someone's home. Hide your garbage cans in the garage or basement. On garbage day, have your neighbor put their garbage out on your property for pick-up.
Lock up any ladders, tools or other objects that can aid in a break-in. And why not display a “Beware of Dog" sign or Alarm company sign on your property. It goes without saying if you have an alarm system, you should test the system and make sure your home is armed before leaving on vacation.
Check with your home insurance company and review your policy obligations before leaving on vacation and don't forget to take a home video of all your home furnishings and valuables and keep it off premises.
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