Thanksgiving is only a couple weeks away, and this year alone an estimated 93 million Americans are expected to travel for the holiday.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of flight numbers, itineraries, recipes, and visions of decked-out dining tables, don’t forget the importance of securing your home before you head out. With millions of homes left empty across the country, the opportunity for burglary is heightened.
Reduce your risk by taking these simple but effective measures, and ensure a happy, worry-free holiday for you and yours.
1. Take care of everyday items
- Turn off your telephone ringer or turn the volume down. To a burglar, a phone ringing endlessly is an easy clue that a house is empty.
- Don’t record a voicemail indicating that you’re out of town. If you have a traditional answering machine, pick up your messages remotely daily.
- Either request that your mail and newspaper be stopped or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to collect them daily.
- Using automatic timers, turn a few indoor lights on and off at certain points in the day.
2. Inspect doors and windows
- Do not leave a key hidden outside your home—burglars will find it. Instead, ask a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member to hold onto a spare.
- Make sure all windows and doors are locked before leaving.
3. Clear the yard
- Rake the leaves and complete late fall pruning; roll up the hose and put away any tools, ladders or mowers.
- Make certain landscaping allows for an unobstructed view of your doors and windows from the street.
4. Check outdoor lighting
- Make sure all outdoor lights work and change any burned-out bulbs.
- If you don’t have motion-activated outdoor security lighting, install it in the dark corners of your property.
5. Out of sight, out of mind
- Keep valuables—and even items such as computers, laptops, video game systems, and other portable electronics—hidden from view of outside windows.
- Similarly, if you’re leaving any cars in the driveway, keep valuables and electronics out of sight, or better yet remove them.
- Did you recently purchase a large gift for someone for the holidays? Break down and hide or dispose of cardboard boxes to be discrete about new purchases.
- Close blinds and window coverings.
6. Guard your garage
- Make sure the door leading from your garage into your home has a strong lock, and use it.
- Before you leave, unplug your automatic garage door opener. You’d be surprised how easily these devices can be tampered with or opened with others’ remotes.
7. Lean on a friend, neighbor, or family member
- Do you have a neighborhood association or neighborhood watch? Get involved. Introduce yourself. Let others know you’re heading out of town so your neighbors know to keep an extra watch on your home. Return the favor when they go on vacation.
- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway a couple nights while you’re away to deter potential burglars. Offer to do the same when they leave town.
8. Invest in a home security system
- The most up-to-date systems offer 24/7/365 on-call protection and allow remote video access from any location.
- For those renting a home or apartment, look into wireless security. Less expensive and simple to install, these devices offer protection no matter where you move.
Andrea Fisher is an online marketer and content specialist for 4tv. She has been published in a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Business Insider. Check out more of her tips @andreafisher007.