How to Secure Your Home While Away

Une femme active son système de sécurité

So, you’ve decided to spend the holidays with your feet in the sand... what a great idea! No one can blame you for wanting to escape winter if just for a few days. On the other hand, this might motivate a would-be thief to visit your empty house. Here are a few tips and tricks to protect your home while you're gone.

Alarm and home automation systems

How can you make your home and belongings safer? How can you lower the cost of your home insurance? Use technology.

Install an alarm system

Although common in commercial buildings, not all homes are equipped with one. However, an alarm system connected to a central station is your first line of defence against an intruder and your best option for alerting the neighbourhood. At the slightest sign of forced entry, the siren goes off and the authorities are notified. Whether you’re going away for the weekend or on a long trip, you can count on this reliable security guard… on one condition: you have to activate the system before you leave. Otherwise, what's the point?

You can never be too careful - Even when you're home, lock your doors and windows at night. Your presence may not be enough to dissuade a thief... so during the day, if you have to work in the backyard or garage, don't leave the doors unlocked.

Automate your home

Home automation technology has greatly improved in recent years. With a smart device and an internet connection, it’s like you’re always home.

Video surveillance

With cameras and microphones, you can see and hear what's going on in and around your home. By placing them in strategic locations inside and out, you can keep a close eye on your property while you're away.

Video doorbell

Your parents, a deliveryman, one of your child’s friends... as soon as someone rings the doorbell, you get an instant notification on your phone! Not only will you see and hear your visitor, but you can also talk to them using your phone. This comes in handy when you’re not at home to accept a package.

Motion detectors

otion detectors alert you to any suspicious movement, like someone sneaking around your home. Glass break sensors are set off when someone or something tries to break or shatter a door or window. Whether it's a cat burglar or a soccer ball, you'll be alerted.

Internet of things

The IoT lets you control everyday objects with the internet. For example, you can activate or deactivate the alarm system or turn your TV or stereo system on or off. You can also open or close the window blinds, and turn on, off or dim the lights in every room of the house. It's an effective way of making it seem as though someone is home and deterring would-be thieves.

Deux personnes regardent une caméra de sécurité

9 other thief deterrents

You don't have an alarm system? Your home isn’t automated? No problem! There are other things you can do to make your home look lived-in when you're away.

1. Have someone pick up your mail

Ask a relative, friend or neighbour to empty your mailbox regularly. An overflowing box is a tell-tale sign that no one’s home. You can notify Canada Post to suspend mail delivery until your return. You can also put a No Flyers sign on your mailbox, if only temporarily.

2. Hide valuables

Never leave valuables and expensive electronic devices in plain sight. Put them in a safe place. Before striking, burglars often scope out the inside of the house through the windows. So don't forget to close the curtains.

Leaving for a long vacation? Double-check your home insurance coverage with your broker or the insurance company. Also, make an inventory of all your belongings to make sure your home insurance covers everything. This will make things easier in the event of a claim.

3. Leave a light on

A nightlight or bedside table lamp is enough to make a burglar think someone’s at home. You can also install an automated timer switch on internal and external lighting.

4. Lock the doors and windows

It goes without saying... check all doors and windows to make sure they’re locked. You don’t want to be riddled with doubt once you've boarded the plane. Consider installing security bars in the windows, although a piece of wood can easily do the trick. After closing the automatic garage door, cut the power to it.

5. Remove your spare keys from their hiding place

In a flowerpot, under the doormat or under a decorative rock in the garden, burglars will check everywhere for those spare keys.

6. Park a car in the driveway

Leave your car or ask a neighbour to park theirs in your driveway, in plain view, to give the impression that someone is home.

7. Driveway and walkway maintenance

Neglected maintenance can be easy to spot. In winter, be sure to clear the snow from the walkways to your home before you leave. If you're going to be away for a long time, ask friends or family to take care of it, or hire a company to do it for you. In the summer, mow your lawn, trim your hedges and maintain your flower beds. Doing this will make your home seem lived in.

8. Have someone keep an eye on your home

It’s nothing exciting, but having someone you trust come to the house to make sure everything's in order, inside and out, is a good idea. Give this person a temporary access code for the alarm system.

Pro tip - If you're going to be away for a long time, turn off the water and turn down the heating to 15°C. Tell your contact person where the water valve is so they won’t have to scramble to find it.

9. Keep a low profile

Do you enjoy posting on social media? Of course, that's what it’s for! But when you’re on vacation or away for the weekend... shut it down! Be cautious. It’s best to avoid posting news or pictures, however exciting they may be. Keep that for after you get home.

Be reachable - Give your family or loved ones a copy of your itinerary and contact information at your destination, so that you can be reached in the event of an emergency.

Holiday vacation time is just around the corner. If you’re planning on visiting the family or flying south this year, at least now you know what to do to reduce the risk of burglary. For added peace of mind, check your home insurance. Happy holidays!