Going Away? 17 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe During Vacation

a homeowner with his feet crossed on a lounge bed on a pier overlooking a large lake

It’s been a long year, and this may be your first shot to get away! If you’ve been fortunate to be home, you may have a little bit of separation anxiety. Will your home be safe without you? How can you make sure no one breaks in and steals your 50″ flatscreen TV or your snow globe collection?

No worries! We have 17 summer home security tips to prevent home burglaries, stop a home disaster, and save your stuff. 

How to stop unwanted house guests

#1 – Don’t leave the lights on – all the time 

a porch light on during the night
Exterior lights are a giveaway.

Don’t be Motel 6 who promises to leave the lights on. Lights left on all the time – especially the outdoor lighting – is a sign that there’s no one home. Instead, keep your home safe during on vacation by investing in smart LED light bulbs that can turn on and off, preferably at different times at night.

You can also use a smart power strip. Plug lights into the strip and then turn the strip on and off at different times, right from your phone.

#2 – Don’t leave any wayward keys

Who doesn’t have a rock or flowerpot outside their home with a key hidden underneath it? Unfortunately, this is extremely unsafe. If you have a trusted neighbor, let them know you’ll be out of town and leave the key with them for emergencies.

Better yet, install a smart lock. This way, your neighbor can use a combination or even an app to get in your home, and you’ll have a record of who comes in and out.

#3 – Upgrade your home security

If you have a lot of valuables, you may want to consider getting a home security system with 24/7 monitoring. If you don’t need to make your home Fort Knox but want some added reassurance, then consider some smart home tech additions to protect your home.

Maybe install a video doorbell, so you can see if anyone is on your lawn. Add motion sensor lighting. Perhaps install a camera or two even inside, so you can see what’s happening when you’re not home.

There’s a lot of smart home tech options, so shop around and see what works best for you. 

DIY Home Security with Cove

#4 – Confide in a trusted neighbor 

Do you tell your neighbors you are going on vacation? The answer is – maybe…? The real question is – do you trust your neighbors? If you have a neighbor-friend you trust, then sure – tell them you’ll be away and ask them to watch over the house.

If you don’t have a trusted friend or neighbor, maybe it’s time you make a cake and get to know your neighbors better. 

#5 – Gush about your vacation after you return

Rather than telling everyone about your vacation before you go, gush about it afterwards. While your hairdresser, barber, or even barista may not rob you, you never know who in the immediate area has different plans.

Likewise, posting on social media may signal potential burglars. If you still want to post, perhaps limit the people who can see your posts to just friends and family. 

#6 – Keep your lawn a cut 

a field with long grass blades at dawn or in the evening
Don’t neglect your lawn.

An unkempt lawn is a red flag for burglars. Get someone in your neighborhood to take care of your lawn while you’re away or arrange for lawn care services.

Also, since someone will be your property while you’re not, call your insurance agent. See what your policy covers regarding personal injuries, and you may also want to ask about umbrella insurance. 

#7 – Halt the mail and all deliveries 

Another surefire sign that you’re not home is excess mail. Either stop the mail from coming to your home (via the USPS website) or get that trusted neighbor to pick up your newspapers, magazines, and bills.

If you do have someone watching your house, ask them to pick up any loose papers that may be around, including flyers stuffed into your screen door handle or mailbox. Those can be markers left by burglars to see if you’re away.

#8 – Check every door and window

This may sound obvious, but double-check your front door, your sliding glass or screen doors, your back windows, and of course, your garage doors. Also, if you have a security system, make sure to arm it.

Leaving a car in the driveway? (This is also recommended to deter burglars.) Make sure to lock that up tight, too!

#9 – Hide your most precious possessions 

You really shouldn’t take those diamond earrings on vacation, but you really shouldn’t leave them around, either. If you have expensive items, such as jewelry, lock them away in a safe or safety deposit box. Keep all other expensive items out of sight of windows.

Also, update your home inventory. This way, if an unfortunate event occurs – burglary or otherwise – your insurance carrier can help you recoup any lost items.

Upload your home inventory directly to the vipHomeLink app, and you’ll always have it at your fingertips!

#10 – Don’t leave your wall unit hanging

an air conditioner occupying a window in a home
Secure or remove your wall unit.

A wall unit air conditioner is easy access into your home, so take it out before you leave and lock the window. If for some reason you can’t take out your wall unit, secure it with the essential screws, wires, etc. 

#11 – Make your pool off-limits

Pools are great for summer fun at home, but they can be dangerous when you’re not around. Lock the gate, and also consider covering your pool for the time you’re away. This can help to prevent a potential deadly situation and keep your pool clean!

How to prevent a home disaster

It’s great to stop thieves from making off with your stuff, but your home can also break down and ruin some of your more precious possessions. Here’s how to protect your home while on vacation!

#12 – Set your programmable thermostat

a digital wall console that reads the temperature of the room
Mind the temperatures.

Though this is more of a winter vacation tip, you should set your programmable thermostat at 55 degrees or above. This helps to keep pipes from freezing and then bursting, which can cause expensive water damage. Remember that trusted neighbor? Ask them to run the cold water for a spell to help keep water moving.

(You might want to bring this trusted neighbor back a gift. Just saying.)

#13 – Beware of power (surges)

Power surges can occur for many reasons – issues with the power company, a thunderstorm, solar flares – and they can fry your appliances. Unplug any appliances that don’t need to be plugged in or use surge protectors.

(Big appliances, such as refrigerators and dishwashers, should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.) 

#14 – Cut the water

a round red handle on a pipe
Is your home’s water valve closed?

Before you head out on vacation, it’s a good idea to turn off the water coming into your house. You should be able to do this from the water shut-off valve. (Generally, the valve has a red, gnarled or flat handle, and is located in your basement or utility closet.)

If you haven’t shut off your water in a few years – or decades, depending upon your home – you may want to contact a plumber beforehand and perhaps replace the valve. These can rust and break, and you wouldn’t want to turn off your water right before leaving – just to spring a leak. 

#15 – Install an automatic water shut-off valve

If a pipe does burst, you may not know until you return home. If your toilet doesn’t fill and you leave, you may return home to find out your toilet ran your entire trip!

That’s why you need an automatic water shut-off valve. This smart home device can alert you to any leaks and even shut off the water automatically. (Hence the name!) These devices will also send push notifications about any inconsistencies in your water usage, like a particular long shower or a running toilet. You can then turn off your water via an app. 

#16 – Know the weather forecast for home

a destroyed shipping container laying on the front lawn of a ranch home
You may be at the beach while this is on your lawn.

Weather can be unpredictable, but it’s important to be ready for an extremely rainy day, especially on the home front. If you’re like our digital content director whose basement floods every so often, then you don’t want to be away when you suddenly have an indoor pool.

Check the weather forecast before you leave and prepare your home. Do you need to clean out your gutters to keep rain from coming into your basement? How about clearing your window wells or testing your sump pump?

Know what’s coming and give your house a once-over – just in case. 

#17 – Download the app every homeowner needs – even on vacay!

Get critical home weather alerts from the vipHomeLink app!

vipHomeLink is here to help you organize, maintain, and improve your home. Our home management app provides you with critical weather alerts, so even while you’re away on vacation, you know what’s happening around your home. Plus, our app sends you personalized reminders and tailored recommendations, so you can get your home into vacation-mode before you go.

Gain peace of mind with vipHomeLink! Download the app today!

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