Home safety tips: 6 things to do before you leave for your summer vacation
As people jet off on summer getaways to places near and far, it's easy to get caught up planning all the fun waiting for you at your destination. But just as important is figuring out the details on the place you will be leaving behind — your home.
From making the most of your home alarm system to social media dos and don'ts, former Secret Service agent Evy Poumpouras has all the tips you need to keep your home safe and sound while you're on vacation.
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1. Be smart with transportation.
If you are thinking about taking a taxi to the airport, take a few precautions as your cab driver already knows some sensitive information about you just by picking up, specifically where you live and that you are going to be out of town. To keep the amount they know to a minimum, be mindful of your conversations — don't share any travel information with or in front of the driver (for example, when talking to your fellow passenger or over the phone). Don't mention where you're going or how long you'll be gone.
To be extra cautious, consider meeting the driver on the corner of your street, particularly if you live alone. For the safest option, have someone you know give you a ride to the airport.
2. Ask for extra police patrol where you live.
Many local police departments practice community-oriented programs and will often provide extra patrol in your neighborhood and by your home if you notify them that you will be out of town. One thing to keep in mind though is that this applies to average-sized cities or towns. In other words, don't bet on huge city departments like the NYPD and LAPD to provide this service.
3. Remove sensitive information from your car when in long-term parking.
If you drive yourself to the airport, don't leave anything in your car that has your home address on it, like mail, magazines or newspapers.
Be sure to be savvy about your in-car devices, too. Remove the GPS system from display, and clean any suction markings on your windshield that may have been left from it — even that can be an indication that you have a GPS system in your vehicle. You should also never store your home address on your GPS system. Remove all garage door or gate openers too, since these are easy ways into your home.
Bear in mind that being in long-term parking is a signal to others that you will be away for a while, so don't leave anything in your car of significant value.
And as a reminder before you leave, be sure to lock the door between your garage and home. Though it may seem like a small thing, it's always better not to sacrifice safety for convenience.
4. Have someone you trust check on things and consider suspending your mail.
Only tell those who need to know that you're going out of town. And of course, don't share this information with friends or neighbors you don't trust. (There are documented cases where neighbors have been the ones to break into homes.) Be sure to communicate to your kids not to share this information freely either.
You should have a person you trust stop by your home (preferably every day) to check on things, pick up your mail and take out trash cans.
If you don't have someone you feel comfortable with doing this for you, suspend your mail and newspaper service while you're away.
5. Make the most of your home alarm system.
If you have an alarm system and want to receive the best home security while away, notify your alarm company you will be out of town and that no one will be entering your home during that time (if that's the case). That way, if your alarm goes off, the company will automatically send police.
6. Share wisely on social media.
To prevent letting large numbers of people know you're away from your home, never post pictures from your vacation on social media until you have returned. Additionally, don't share that you are at the airport or on your way out of town via social networking sites. Those postings are an instant notification to many people that your home is empty and will be for a while.