Note: With spring break coming up, these are excellent safety tips that we all should follow. pb
The last thing you want when relaxing on holiday is to be worried about the security of your home. As professional locksmiths, one of the most common questions we are asked is how best to secure a house when you are away. Here are our Top Seven Tips.
1. Get a trusted person to house sit
This is the ideal option as it ensures your house is not empty. Do you have a family member or friend who might like somewhere to stay for a few weeks? This is often a great option for young adults who still live at home or in share houses. They are responsible enough to care for a home and might appreciate a break from where they are living.
For longer trips you can also consider professional house sitters. Agencies screen their candidates very carefully. You will pay a small fee and have the peace of mind knowing your house, garden, mail and pets are being cared for.
If you do get someone to stay in your house, remember to tell the neighbours or your own family – anyone who might come past and get suspicious if they see a stranger entering or leaving your home!
Tip: Keep close track of who you give keys to and write down some guidelines if you are using a friend / family member or house sitter for the first time.
2. Don’t advertise the fact you are away
The internet has become a place to share a lot of personal information. Please be mindful about how much you give away online. We would recommend never advertising on social media sites or public forums that you are going away. Of course you may email family or friends who need to know this information. But if you are posting the news anywhere that strangers can access the information, think twice.
Tip: If you do want to share your holiday photos or news, do something simple such as implying you have someone staying in your house. This will minimise the chances of a stranger who might come across the information online ‘trying their luck’.
3. Inform neighbours or close family / friends
If you are lucky enough to have good neighbours, you probably already have asked or given favours in the past. Even neighbours you don’t know that well are usually happy to do basic tasks such as:
- take bins out and put them back
- collect your mail
- keep an eye on the house for any unusual occurrences
They may even be happy to water the garden or feed a cat. If you don’t have neighbours you can ask to do this, consider asking a family member to stop by once every few days. And if this is not an option, you should put a stop to your mail – including any regular deliveries – so it doesn’t pile up.
Tip: Put a No Junk Mail sign on your mail box so this doesn’t pile up while you are away.
4. Inform Security Company or local authorities
If you have an alarm system, let your security company know you will be away and contact details for a person close to home in case of an incident. You may also like to inform local police (only for trips longer than a few weeks) especially if you live in a small town where you know they will keep an eye out. Some neighbourhoods have a Neighbourhood Watch or similar community program. Find out if there is one in your area and contact them.
Tip: You can place a sticker on your front window saying the house is protected by a security system even if it is not. Every small deterrent helps.
5. Invest in a light switch timer
One small and worthwhile investment is a light switch timer. You don’t want to leave all lights off the whole time, nor do you want lights running all through the night.
Install a light switch timer in a few key rooms, as well as on a few outdoor lights. Set them to emulate normal living hours. Again, the aim is to provide a deterrent. Anything that will give a potential intruder enough reason to doubt their actions and move on.
Tip: A sensor light is so simple and yet amazingly effective. Nobody wants to get caught in an unexpected flood of light.
6. Check all locks, bolts and keys
You can do this yourself or get your local locksmith to come and do a safety check and audit. This can include:
- ensuring deadbolts on all external access doors
- checking window locks
- reconciling your keys – if in doubt, it can be wise to get locks re-keyed to a master key system. This way you can be 100% certain nobody else has keys to your home and you control all keys that are cut.
Tip: Make sure a family member, neighbour or friend has a key in case of any unusual event or emergency, but don’t leave one anywhere on your premises.
7. Secure windows, sliding doors and other unusual entry points
Not all entry points can be secured with deadlocks. But make sure there are no easy access points. Things to check and install include:
- place rods in the bottom of sliding doors so they can’t be forced open
- place nails or bolts in window frames so windows only open a small amount
- check padlocks to places such as sheds, garages etc to ensure they are secure
- lock or seal any unusual entry points such as attics or cellars
Tip: Screen doors and screens on windows are a way to provide an extra level of security and protection for your home.
Jeremy works with Five Star Locksmiths (Melbourne). Five Star Locksmiths provide 24 hour locksmith services in Melbourne’s CBD and its suburbs. Jeremy writes content that provides value to the readers.