Holiday Safety Precautions!
Crime doesn’t take a vacation.
Many families across Florida and the nation will spend the Fourth of July holiday away from home, soaking up sun on the state’s beautiful beaches, traveling to see relatives or visiting friends for a backyard barbecue.
To fully enjoy those activities and other summertime pursuits spent away from home, Florida Realtors® suggests that homeowners take precautions to safeguard their residences when they’re not around. Crime rates across the country often start to peak as temperatures rise during warm weather months – the same time that many families leave their homes unoccupied and unprotected.
“Buying a home is usually the biggest investment that most people will ever make,” says 2015 Florida Realtors President Andrew Barbar, a broker with Keller Williams Realty Services in Boca Raton. “It often provides an opportunity to build financial security and increase household wealth – but it’s much more than that. Our homes are the places where we raise our families, make countless memories and house our dreams for the future. We all should take steps to protect something so priceless.”
Homeowners can take these simple precautions to make their homes less of a target for criminals:
No “home alone”: Before leaving your home, make it look as if someone is still at home by using timers on lights in various rooms. Even though daylight hours are longer during the summer, it may still get dark faster than you expect or you may return home later than anticipated, and taking this step ensures that your home appears occupied at all times. Ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway and pick up your mail and newspapers – or make arrangements to cancel the paper and hold the mail.
Mum’s the word on social media: Sharing your vacation plans on social media sites isn’t wise. That’s the same as announcing to the world you’ll be gone and the house will be empty – a perfect target for burglars or vandals. Your answering machine message shouldn’t reveal your plans either.
Lock all points of entry: Ensure that all doors leading to the home and garage are locked, even when leaving for short periods of time. The typical burglary takes less than five minutes, and unlocked doors, combined with an empty home, put out the “welcome mat” for crime. Make sure windows are locked, too. Disable your garage door opener and manually lock it from the inside, and don’t forget to check that the door leading from the garage to the home is locked, too.
Be landscape smart: Shrubbery and other plants can grow very rapidly during the warm, wet summer months. It’s a good idea to give your yard a good once over before leaving for a trip. An unkempt yard could be viewed as a sign of an empty home to a burglar.
Spare keys: When leaving home, take your spare house keys along or leave a them with a trusted neighbor. Never leave a key under a welcome mat, in a mailbox or other hiding spots – most burglars know where to look.
Plan for worst case scenario: Stow all valuable items in a safe deposit box or safe while you’re gone. If leaving a vehicle behind, be sure to remove any valuable items (GPS, etc.) and lock the doors. Take an inventory of important items in your home, take photos and write down serial numbers and store that information in a safe place. Make sure your Homeowner’s insurance is up-to-date in case you need to make a claim upon return home.