Few things are worse than returning
from a fun vacation to find that your residence has had some unwelcome visitors. Now
that winter is in full swing, here is a checklist to help keep your home as
safe as possible in your absence:
- Lock all doors and windows, including garage and
upstairs windows. Replace any broken locks and place a heavy wooden dowel
in sliding-door tracks in addition to the lock. If you have a garage
attached to the residence, be sure you lock the door leading from the
garage to the house.
- Stop all mail and newspaper delivery or ask a friend,
neighbor, or family member to bring mail and newspapers into your home
each day. (They can also make sure everything is secure inside.)
- Close all the curtains and blinds, and set timers on
at least one light and one television to give your home a lived-in
appearance. Consider installing a motion-detecting light outside your
- If you have an alarm system, let someone on your call-back
list know you will be gone. Then if the alarm sounds, the call-back person
will be prepared to meet the police at your home.
- Make sure the driveway and sidewalks are shoveled and
have someone keep up with the snow removal while you’re away.
- If you’re leaving a vehicle at home, remove any
valuables and lock the doors, even if it is in the garage. Another good
idea is to ask a neighbor to park in the driveway while you are gone.
- Don’t leave house keys hidden outside. Instead, give them
to a friend, neighbor, or family member in case of an emergency. Give this
person’s contact information to the alarm company in case there is a
- Move valuables (jewelry, coins, important papers, etc.)
to a safety deposit box or fireproof safe.
- Unplug computers, televisions, and any other appliances
that would be damaged by a power surge. Shut off the water to your washing
machine. (The hoses are notorious for breaking and causing a flood.) Also,
clean out your refrigerator.
- Don’t change the message on your answering machine.
Look in your owner’s manual to learn how to check messages from an outside
- Make sure your address can be seen clearly from the
street for emergency service personnel. In addition, keep your trees
trimmed up to seven feet and shrubbery trimmed down to three feet to provide
a clear line of sight to see possible criminal activity.