How to Keep Your Home Safe while Traveling

There’s a great deal of emphasis these days being placed on personal security while traveling. But have you thought about ways you might be “leaving the door unlocked” for thieves while you’re away from home? By instituting a few simple routines, you can keep your house secure while you’re traveling for business or leisure.
This first one may seem a bit obvious, but in our oversharing culture it’s worth noting: Do not post on social media when you’re going out of town. Disable the “check in to favorites” and “check in to recent places” on your /Foursquare app or Facebook, so those apps do not automatically display that you’re in another state.
Also, avoid posting vacation pictures until you return from your trip so those who search the Internet for this kind of information can’t easily target your home. One good use of technology: a simple text sent to neighbors you trust, telling them you’re leaving town and asking them to keep an eye on your place, may raise someone’s suspicion if they see unusual activity around your home.
Home automation is another technology method, but we’re long past the days of the automatic timers that shut off all the lights at exactly the same time every day. A free web service called IFTTT (which used to be If This, Then That) allows you to use its partnerships with various manufacturers’ products to control your house’s lighting, heating and cooling, and alarm system remotely.
IFTTT can be used for other automated actions as well, such as texting you whenever the weather service expects rain in your area, or upload your cell phone photos to a cloud-based storage account.
You might also consider arming your house with webcams that you can access from your smartphone while you’re out of town or at the office. This is an easy way to watch a pet left in the care of a sitter, or monitor the comings and goings of neighbors you’ve asked to bring in the mail.
Speaking of mail and packages from online retailers: suspend their delivery or schedule them upon your return. Don’t let lawn maintenance lapse or garbage cans languish by the curb days after pickup either. All these are signs that a home is unoccupied. Keeping up the exterior appearance of your home gives the impression someone’s home.
You may think that closing the blinds and pulling the drapes is a good way to keep thieves at bay. What it really does is make it very obvious that you’re not there at the moment. Instead of shuttering the house, keep the blinds and drapes open and move out of the line of sight anything valuable. For example, laptops can be closed and placed in a drawer. Jewelry boxes can be moved to the closet. Media cabinet doors can shield your television and other devices from view.
Finally, to protect the contents of your home from unforeseen damage due to weather, power down anything that could be negatively impacted by a power surge. Turn off the water at the main valve so that the house won’t flood if the pipes freeze.
You can’t anticipate everything that could happen while you’re away, but implementing these simple routines gives you the best chance for your abode to still be “home, sweet home” upon your return.
How do you protect your home’s security while you’re away? Do you have any special devices or technology you use? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.