The holidays are a time for celebration: joyous events, old-fashioned traditions and sometimes, new places. As with every happy endeavor, however, there are always those unfortunate elements that can contaminate the occasion.
While you’re away, it’s also the time thieves come out to play – homes unattended, gleeful gifts are left home alone, ready for the robbing. So before you leave to visit your family, or go on a much-deserved tropical getaway, there are a few steps you should take to secure your home.
1.) Treat your vacation like a secret operation, letting only a few close people know about it, and keep everybody else out of the loop until you get back. You can do this by:
- Not using social media and social networking sites while you’re away; or only sharing your activities with a few close friends.
- Don’t upload vacation photos or talk about how great your vacation is until you get back, so strangers and criminals don’t know that your home is empty and unprotected.
- Don’t set your e-mail or voicemail to announce that you’re on vacation.
- Make sure to get your mail held, and ask a trusted neighbor to check your door for packages, advertisements, newspapers, or anything else that might pile up in front of your door while you’re away.
2.) If you or your teen are obsessed with social media, there are tips to optimizing the security of your Facebook account: the use of customized lists.
- Create a list of specific people that you want to see your posts, photos, check-ins, videos, and updates, keeping everybody else out of the loop. This way your other distant “friends” and friends of friends can only see your basic information, but can’t tell what you are up to or if you’re away.
- To create a list, go to the Facebook home page and click on “Friends”; then “Edit Friends”; and then the “Create a List” button. Next, go to your status update and click on the little lock icon. You will be asked who you want to have access to your status updates. Click “Customize”, then change the “make this visible” section to “specific people”. From here, just type the name of the list you made. But before clicking on the “save setting” button, make sure to check the “Make this my default setting” box.
- Now that your Facebook posts are secured, only those trusted people on your list can see your activity.
- Lastly, you should check up on the privacy settings you already had in the first place. You can do this by going to “Account,” and then “Privacy Settings”. To make sure your Facebook account is secure and only visible to your “friends,” click the “Friends Only” tab on the right. Then just click “Apply These Settings”, and feel safe in using your Facebook account even if you are away.
3.) Burglar-proof your home:
Burglars are essentially opportunists who look for structural weaknesses, so before you leave your home for any extended period of time, there are a few steps you can take to strengthen your property’s defenses:
- To deter burglary, make sure your doors are strong and securely locked, and be sure to test and set your alarm.
- Last-minute shopping trips, travel plans and a whirlwind of social activity often preoccupy most people’s minds, so in order to avoid overlooking a back entry or garage door, make a security checklist.
- To secure your valuables like jewelry and cash, you may want to place these items in a hidden safe or security deposit box.
- Another great way to deter burglars is by giving them the impression that you’re home - an inexpensive way to do this is by setting up motion-activated flood lights, which are not only energy-efficient, but their sudden illumination is surprising to anyone who may be lurking around your home.
- To bulk up security, set your indoor lights on a random timer, which can be purchased at most hardware stores and cost less than than $20.
- It is also a good idea to backup your computer or laptop data off site in the event your home or business is burglarized.
- A good service you could use to backup your digital data is provided by Carbonite.
- Also, you may want to log into sensitive accounts like PayPal, eBay, online bank accounts, etc. and change your password; just in case that information was saved on your computer.
- And, in the event that your computer or laptop is stolen, you may want to contact your computer manufacturer so they can make a note in their database that your computer has been stolen.
4.) Lastly, you want to be able to check up on your home while you’re away to see what was and is happening.
- A great way to keep an eye on what’s going on while you’re away is an Internet-enabled nanny cam. These cameras are motion-activated, and when set up in a central location of your home, will begin recording the moment someone enters. And with the Internet-enabled cameras you also get to see the live and recorded footage from anywhere in the world with Internet connectivity.
- Remote monitoring means you can log online from across the world to see what is happening, or just use your Smartphone while you’re on the go. And with the text message and e-mail alerts you can also receive an alert on your phone or e-mail the moment motion is detected; allowing you to check in on what is going on in real-time.
- For a cheaper alternative, you can use a regular motion-activated nanny camera to record everything that happened. Then when you get back from your vacation you can have the proof you need in case of a break-in.
- And lastly it would be very helpful to ask a trusted friend to house sit while you’re away. The benefit to this is that your home won’t be empty and vulnerable to burglars, and you can always call your friend to check up on your home.
Follow these tips and stay safe this holiday season. Remember, holidays are the busiest days of the year, especially for burglars. So keep your vacation on the down-low, only share where you are with close friends and family, and take the necessary precautions to secure your home.
And, most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy your vacation!