Planning a vacation? The Home Security Souncil advises you to invest some time to review your home's security and to make improvements that will keep it from being vulnerable to break-ins. The Home Safety Council is committed to helping you enhance the safety and security of your home, even when you're away. Print out this checklist before you leave on your next trip. Walk around the perimeter of your home and objectively evaluate its vulnerability. Try to look at it the way an intruder or thief would, and make changes well before you leave town.
Inspect entry doors and door frames. External doors should be hinged from the inside, not the outside where burglars can simply un-screw the hinge. If you have sliding doors, place a bar or wooden dowel in the inside track to supplement the door lock.
Check to make sure all door and window locks are operable and replace or install any that are lacking or in disrepair.
Purchase several light timers so you can set lights to come on in different rooms at different times during your absence.
Check outside lighting and replace burned out or dim light bulbs. Re-position security lights so they shine on key areas, such as doorways, garage doors, driveways, and around windows, including the backyard. If you don't have them, consider installing motion-detection lights around the perimeter of your home.
Check garage doors and windows for security and replace worn or inoperable locks. If the window is bare, install a blind or curtain over the inside so the contents cannot be viewed from outside.
Do yard work before you leave. Trim limbs that could be used to access upper windows. Keep hedges neat and prune them so they can't be used by intruders for cover.
Give a spare house key to a close friend or relative so they can keep an eye on the inside and outside of your home.
If you plan to be gone for several days or more, arrange for someone to check your yard.
To make your home even more lived in, consider asking a trusted neighbor to use your driveway to park their car while you're away. Arrange to have your newspaper delivery suspended and have mail held at the post office or picked up daily by someone you trust. Arrange for someone to take your trash out on pick-up day and return the barrels afterward.
Consider purchasing a fire-proof home safe for important papers, etc. Or put valuable jewelry and paperwork in your bank safe deposit box while you're away.
Avoid unwittingly inviting crime. Be careful whom you tell about your travel plans. Record a generic greeting on your answering machine rather than one indicating that you are out of town.
Before you drive away, double-check to be sure all doors and windows are locked and light timers are set. Make sure you've provided relatives or friends with your contact information so you can be reached in an emergency.