Family travelHoliday season will be here soon, meaning traveling on vacation or to visit family. But while you’re gone, your house is left unsecured unless you take some steps to protect your hearth and home.

“It’s always safe to assume that your always needs a security upgrade. According to the FBI, a burglary occurs every 15 seconds in the U.S.,” says Kevin Raposo of SimpliSafe, which specialize in wireless home security systems.

“Many break-ins come from someone picking the easiest target. With a few safety adjustments, you can make your home a less attractive target,” according to The Gift of Freedom: A Stronger, Safer You” by safety expert Stuart Haskin, executive director of Get Safe.  

Do a little research before you travel.  “Local police departments will often discuss security with local residents. They know the most about threats in your area and can provide excellent advice,” says Marc Pollak, director of Swift Security Solutions, a security consulting firm in New York City. “Get a sense of the security situation in your neighborhood. Talk with your neighbors and research local crime statistics.”

Security Check: Tips Before You Travel
•    Ask a pro:  “Hiring a residential security expert is a great idea. A specialist can evaluate your home, including the exterior and interior,” says Marc Pollak, director of Swift Security Solutions, a security consulting firm in New York City.  

•     Check the door: “Think about installing a security door (a screen door with decorative wrought-iron bars),” advises The Gift of Freedom: A Stronger, Safer You.

•    Upgrade hardware: “Longer screws mounting every door, strike plate, and dead bolt. 1/2″ screws are common in many homes and an easy and inexpensive upgrade is to replace all of them with 3″ screws, according to the security team at American Timing Group, LLC, business offers security solutions.

•    Do yard work: “Trim back any foliage that would provide hiding areas for would-be thieves,” suggests Personal security and travel safety advisor Philip Farina CEO for the Farina and Associates, Ltd.

•    Set the alarm: “A burglar will target a home that doesn’t have a home security system as opposed to one that does. A burglar alarm can be a first line of defense against an intruder, whether your home while the crime occurs, or not,” says Raposo. Pollak agrees, “Install a home security system. These have gotten very sophisticated; not only do modern systems serve as burglar alarms, but they can also connect to motion detectors, record from surveillance cameras, operate lights on certain schedules, and detect carbon monoxide or smoke.”

•    Alert the neighbors:  “Tell everyone who might be near your house while you are away (neighbors, the mailman, the local police precinct, etc.) that you will be on vacation. That way, if they notice any activity at your home, they can report it to authorities,” offers Pollak.

•     Make believe: “Give the impression that someone is home. This can be accomplished by placing a hold on your mail, leaving a car parked in the driveway, and adding inexpensive plug-in timers to a few lights and/or the television to set the off at random times,” says Farina.

•    Be selective: “Do not spread word of your vacation beyond people whom you trust. Do not announce your plans on your Facebook account or post pictures of you and Mickey Mouse to Flickr while you’re in Orlando… Do all of that after you return,” says Pollak.