5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Home Safe During Holiday Travel
There are some relatively easy solutions to keeping your home safe and secure while you’re away enjoying the holiday festivities.
- By Herman Yau
- Dec 21, 2017
This year, a record number of Americans will hit the road for the holiday season, off to visit family and friends or perhaps even escape the cold weather. With 103 million travelers heading out, that leaves a lot of homes unattended. In fact, according to crime statistics, the holiday season boasts the second-highest burglary rates of the year.
While many of us have seen the movie “Home Alone,” we can’t count on potential burglars to be the bumbling idiots who terrorized Kevin while his parents were away. But, while it might not be that easy to fool would-be thieves, there are some relatively easy solutions to keeping your home safe and secure while you’re away enjoying the holiday festivities.
1) Let your neighbors know you’ll be away. If you have a dog or other household pet, you’ll probably need to ask a neighbor or friend to come by to feed, water and take care of your furry friend. That’s great because it means there’s traffic in and out of your home, and someone is around every day to check and make sure things are as they should be. But, if you don’t have pets, it’s still a great idea to inform a trusted neighbor or friend that you’ll be away and ask them to keep an eye on your place. One of the best defenses against any crime is simply keeping an eye on those we care about and taking care of one another.
2) Install programmable lights. Break-ins are often crimes of opportunity. Thieves will drive around the neighborhood and look for signs that no one is home. Mail, newspapers or packages accumulating, cars that sit for days without moving, and a house that’s completely dark every evening are all telltale signs. Adding programmable lights to your home that turn on and off at normal active hours can give the illusion that the home is occupied and keep your house from becoming an easy target. Using high-efficiency LED bulbs will offset the “wasted” energy of having the lights on when no one is home, but certainly the cost of a burglary (which is nearly $2,000 on average) is far less than the cost of electricity to prevent it.
3) Bolster your WiFi security. While most of us know we should keep our home WiFi network password protected, many either don’t use one or they offer a guest network that allows visitors to connect without a password. This not only allows passersby and/or would-be thieves to suck up your bandwidth, but also allows them access to your network where they can infiltrate your connected devices. We’ve heard the horror stories of creeps hacking into baby monitors, but access to the entire network could be even more dangerous. Before you head out, it’s a good idea to shut off the guest network, reset your router’s password and turn on security to prevent intrusion.
4) Add security cameras. According to a survey of more than 400 incarcerated burglars, nearly 60 percent said the presence of a video surveillance system is a factor when selecting a target, and 40 percent said they would choose another target if a camera was present. Most people think of cameras as a way to gather evidence after the fact, but the mere presence of one can be a strong deterrent. With the wide range of models and options, plus WiFi capability and ease of installation, adding one or more cameras to protect your home is a relatively affordable and simple way to make your home less appealing to would-be thieves.
5) Opt for some advanced features. While the mere presence of a camera can be a deterrent, why not choose a system with some added features that offer added return on investment? For example, a camera that offers built-in facial recognition capability lets you know exactly who’s at the door, or sneaking around to the back window. Simply program photos of visitors you know into the system, and if the camera captures someone it doesn’t recognize, you’ll get an immediate alert directly to your mobile phone, along with the ability to see who it is. Then, when that neighbor who you have keeping an eye on your place comes around, they can check for any signs of suspicious activity. Or, if you live in an area where inclement weather may cause utility outages, installing a solar-powered camera can keep your home protected even if the electricity is out. Some, like the Lynx Solar, will continue recording and storing photos and video during a power outage, then upload the captured images to the secure cloud server once utilities are restored. That way, if the power goes out, your programmable lights (obviously) fail, and a thief takes advantage of the situation, you’ll still have surveillance footage to provide to the authorities.
It’s worth repeating that there’s no substitute for a trusted, vigilant neighbor when you’re planning to be away from home. Having someone to look after your place—or offering to do it for another neighbor—is one of the best ways to take care of one another during this season of giving. But, even with a watchful eye, adding some technology to the mix can help ensure your home is safe, secure and welcome respite from your holiday travels.