Have you been dreaming about spending the winter on a tropical island, or taking that dream trip to Europe for the summer? If the thought of leaving your house empty for an extended period of time is holding you back, take a look at these three great tips on how to keep your home safe while you’re away. Then, book your trip, and start packing!

Make it look like you are still at home

Having a reliable neighbor or family member take care of your property while you are away is the ideal situation. But, if you have to leave your house unattended for an extended period, prepare everything well in advance of your departure date. Your goal is to make it look like you are still at home, while you are away. Things like a full mailbox or stacks of newspapers on the front steps are huge red flags for burglars. So, cancel your newspaper subscription. Have it go into effect a few days before you are scheduled to leave to be sure that your cancellation is in place. Also, have the postal service hold your mail for the duration if you don’t have anyone to pick it up for you.

Put your household lights on automatic timers. If the lights are on, intruders will be less likely to enter. Another deterrent is having a radio on in the kitchen. A sound coming from the house makes it seem like someone is still around.

This might sound obvious, but make sure every door and window is locked before you leave. Don’t forget to check doors and windows in basements, garages, and other areas that you don’t use frequently, and may be overlooked. Make sure that you have installed window wells made of secure materials. And don’t leave any spare keys in hiding places outside the house. If you must leave spare keys behind, give them to a trusted friend or family member to hold on to.

Have a reliable security system installed

Even if you prepare your house thoroughly, there is still a small chance that someone could get in, so, having a security system is a great idea. ADT recommends bare minimum security systems that include a digital keypad, entryway contacts, and yard signs and window decals. Make sure to find a reputable company in your area, and have the system installed well in advance of your departure. You want to have it installed and running, so you know it’s working before you leave. A little bit of peace of mind goes a long way when you are on vacation. Right before you leave, call the security company to let them know you’ll be away, and for how long. Don’t forget to set the alarm when you go.

Hire a house sitter

Leaving your home vacant for an extended period always carries some risk. Hiring a house sitter through a reputable company may be your safest alternative. You can arrange for a house sitter to either stay in your home overnight or to make visits on a daily basis. If you choose the former, they may also care for pets, house plants, and your yard. It’s as if you are still at home. House sitters that make daily visits will pick up mail, newspapers, check the home, and report to you if anything has happened, or seems suspicious.

Before you hire a house sitter, check with your insurance company to see whether or not they, and their belongings, would be covered under your homeowner’s policy.

Don’t let just anyone into your home. Check the person’s references, and have them sign a contract. There are house sitting referral services that take care of all the paperwork for you. They will also provide you with a list of reliable people who you can trust to take care of your home.

Don’t let the thought of leaving your home vacant keep you away from your next trip. When you take precautionary measures and prepare well in advance, you will have that peace of mind you want for your perfect vacation.

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