The kids are out of school, Memorial Day has passed, and summer has arrived! If you’re taking a trip this season, odds are you’ve done some planning for the destination, the accommodations, the activities, and the packing list. But one thing you should also plan is how to keep your home secure while you are away. Home burglaries are at their peak during summer months, as criminals take advantage of the rise in empty homes.

Because you want your home to still look occupied while you’re gone, the obvious best plan is to have a friend or relative stay there. But if that isn’t possible, you can still give it a lived-in feel:

  • Use timers or smart home devices to control both your indoor and outdoor lights, and have them turn on and off at various times.
  • Put your television on a timer as well so sound can be heard within the house at times.
  • Stop newspaper delivery, or have a neighbor pick it up each morning so they don’t accumulate on the porch.
  • If you are going to be gone more than a week, arrange for your lawn to be mowed. Overgrowth is a sign of an unoccupied house.
  • Your car should remain locked in the garage, but ask a neighbor to park in your driveway in the evenings to give the appearance of occupancy.
  • Make sure packages or mail doesn’t get left on your porch. You can contact carriers and request them to hold your deliveries:
  • Be sure to bring in any spare key(s) you have hidden on your property while you are away.

A few simple steps inside the house can protect your belongings and save you some money while you are gone, too:

  • Set the thermostat for higher temperatures (around 80 is recommended) so your air conditioner isn’t running unnecessarily while you are out.
  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater, as well. You don’t need hot water when you aren’t home!
  • Unplug smaller appliances, such as coffee makers, toaster ovens, printers, DVD or Blu-Ray players, etc. to conserve energy.
  • Larger electronics such as computers, stereos, and televisions (unless they are running on timers) should also be unplugged to prevent damage from power surges or electrical storms. An alternate option is to plug them all into quality surge protectors.
  • Disconnect your computer from the Internet to protect your personal information and files.
  • Don’t leave any valuables or important paperwork out. Make sure things like jewelry and private documents are locked in a fire-proof safe, or taken to a safe deposit box before you depart.

Finally, a great way to protect your home is to let the RIGHT people know you are leaving:

  • Who you SHOULD tell:
    • Your alarm company, if you have one. A notation on your account that you are away on vacation can help the monitoring company should an alarm take place while you are gone.
    • Trusted friends and neighbors, who can help keep an eye on your property.
    • The local police. Some precincts will do a “vacation check” while you are gone if the resources are available.
  • Who you SHOULDN’T tell:
    • Anyone while in a public setting. Whether in the store, the doctor’s office, a restaurant, etc., your conversation could be overheard by a potential burglar taking notes on dates and details.
    • Anyone on social media. (Make sure your kids know this one, too!) Criminals find victims easily through careless posts. Even private settings can sometimes be seen by people you don’t know through shares, tags, or comments. Even though it may be tempting to share your travel news, never post your plans or mention that you will be away. When you are gone, don’t use check-ins which will show you’re out of town. Finally, save your vacation pictures until after you’ve returned!

Dedicating planning time for protecting your home before your trip can save you money and heartache later. Have a great vacation!