Vacation planning tips to help keep your home safe

You can have the best lock, but if someone can kick in your door, it’s useless. Make sure the doors themselves are strong, secure and installed properly by the pros.
The Holmes GroupYou can have the best lock, but if someone can kick in your door, it’s useless. Make sure the doors themselves are strong, secure and installed properly by the pros.

There’s nothing better than a vacation, and summer’s the time most people seem to take them. But to really relax it’s important to make sure your home is protected while you’re gone. The best way to do that is to look like you’re at home when you’re away from home.

There are plenty of things you can do to protect your home against break-ins. Most people will tell you to install timers on your lights, have your neighbour pick up the mail and let someone park in the driveway while you’re gone.

Then there are the things you need to do to protect your home from potential damage. For instance, if you’re leaving in winter, shut off the water and insulate any pipes that pass through cold zones, such as the attic and crawl space, so the pipes don’t freeze and burst.

Or, so you’re not wasting energy, unplug appliances, set the water heater to low and turn down the thermostat (27C in summer, 55 in winter), and install a surge protector.

This is all standard stuff to protect your home. But you can do better than standard to secure it properly.

Putting your lights on a timer, for example, is a good idea, but take it one step further.

Use a cellphone app to control when the lights come on in your home. This lets you switch up the times, which is important. All it takes is watching your home for a couple of nights for someone to notice the lights always come on at nine and turn off at 11 — so the lights are on, but no one’s home.

And you can’t forget about maintenance, especially on your home’s exterior. If the lawn looks overgrown or branches haven’t been cleaned up after a storm, it can be a dead giveaway that you’re not home. People will notice.


You might consider hiring a landscaper or neighbour to mow your lawn or clear snow while you’re gone. Ask them to do a quick scan of the exterior after any major storms, to make sure nothing is broken and any debris gets cleaned up. As a precaution, trim trees that can damage your home during high winds.

Also, remember to lock your garage, especially if it’s attached to your house, because it can be an easy entry point if not secured properly.

If your garage has a side door, use a deadbolt to lock it from the inside. And if the door has a window, make sure you can’t reach the deadbolt by breaking the window. Laminated glass, although expensive, is a good option for extra security; it’s strong and heavy, so it offers better protection.

Some home security systems will set off an alarm if a window breaks or a door gets busted, and they’ll notify you on your cellphone, no matter where you are.

One last thing about garages: If you have a garage door opener, make sure the door closes completely before you leave.

Most garage door openers have a sensor, so if anything passes underneath the door while it’s closing it automatically goes back up. But sometimes even just some debris on the floor won’t let it close. Make sure it’s fully closed before you leave, or you’ll leave behind an entry point.

If you have a sliding door in your home, put a metal bar or a piece of wood on the track. That stops anyone from sliding the door open if they pick the lock. You can do the same for windows, too. But a better option is installing windows and doors with multi-point locks. The ones I’ve used have three locks on the inside that you can’t see or pick.

Last but not least, don’t go broadcasting that you’re leaving — and I do mean broadcasting. Social media is fun, but it has risks. It’s amazing how much information people share nowadays. You can literally track a person just by looking at what they’re posting.

Remember: It’s not just your friends that see this.

Going on vacation is supposed to be fun. But you also need to be prepared. When it comes to protecting your home, it’s always better (and cheaper) to be safe than sorry.

SOURCE: HGTV.CA, Mike Holmes

Aubrey Langhorne

Aubrey Langhorne

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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