Vacation Safe

April 30, 2018

 

Spring Break is over, the kids will soon be out of school and the warm weather is upon us.  In between the neighborhood weekend barbecues and pool parties, you are probably planning for that great yearly summer vacation.  Don’t let all the planning you spend to make this a memorable trip go to waste by not spending the same amount of time making sure you, your family and your home are safe while gone.

According to the FBI, every 15 seconds a home is burglarized in the United States.  The average valued loss is $2,188.  Most thieves want to be in and out of your home in six minutes or less, so anything you can do to slow them or deter them will work in your favor.

Some basics tips to deter burglars all year long include:

  • Install a home security system

  • Ensure exterior doors are made of solid wood or steel

  • Use deadbolt locks

  • Plant strategic landscaping—thorny rose bushes or cacti under bedroom windows will deter strangers getting in and your kids getting out!

  • Install motion-activated sensors/floodlights

But whether you plan to be gone for a long weekend or a long vacation, there are extra measures you should consider:

  • Make an inventory of your valuables, including serial numbers and photos

  • Arrange for your lawn to stay trimmed

  • Stop the newspaper and mail or ask a trusted neighbor to pick them up

  • Park your car inside the garage and ask a neighbor to park in your driveway occasionally

  • Put at least one light on a timer

And special care should be taken when it comes to social media and your vacation.  Burglars use social media to identify victims.  Try some of the following to beat them at their own game. Refrain from posting updates of your planning and packing adventures on Facebook or Instagram.  Counting down the days until you travel gives potential burglars the opportunity to plan for their heist as well. When you are actually on vacation, wait until your return to post updates.  This is hard—the nature of social media is to share our experiences on the fly and live in the moment while the rest of the world watching.  But remember that if you ‘check in’ at the famous European restaurant, take a selfie in front of that famous monument or share that pic of your upgraded boarding pass, it might not be just your immediate friends and family who see the post. If you feel like you can’t deny the urge to post while away, you can change some settings that will help you be a bit more incognito:

  • Make your account temporarily private

  • Target posts to be shared only with people on your network that you trust

  • Turn off the geotagging function on your mobile device

  • Permanently remove all information about your home address from your profiles.

  • Remove your phone number from public view 

  • If you must set auto-reply emails regarding your vacation, do so only for select people on your contact list and state that you will be unavailable rather than away on vacation

  • Make sure your kids follow the same rules you have set for yourself

If all else fails, you can post sporadic updates showing you and your family at home and post statements about house-sitters, guests or family members that are holding down the fort. It can’t hurt to throw in a photo of your neighbor’s pit bull on the lawn for good measure! 

 

But there is also an added benefit of disconnecting from your social media account.  You get to actually enjoy the sites for yourself without staring at your phone’s screen.  Being able to better connect with people and places is what a vacation is all about.

 

Finally, make sure you have the right home insurance policy.  No matter what precautions you have taken to prevent theft, sometimes the unexpected still happens. You have to get everything right and the burglar only has to find one way in the house.  In the event thieves do break into your home and steal or damage your personal items, home insurance may be able to help you. Make sure that part of your vacation checklist includes reaching out to California Southwestern Insurance Agency.

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