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Go Ask Mom

Geralin Thomas: Tips to keep home safe when away for work, vacation

Posted July 26, 2012

Geralin Thomas

Whether you’re heading out the door for work or heading out of town for a week, you want to feel confident that your home is as crime-proof as possible. Your home should be the place that you feel safest, but sadly, home invasions happen frequently and can often be prevented with just a few adjustments around the house.

Here are a few organizing tips for making your home safe and secure:

  • Don’t put boxes from new computers or flat screen TVs out at your curb as this announces that you have new, expensive stuff in your home. Instead, break the boxes down and cut them into pieces.
  • Keep valuables such as purses or jewelry out of sight in case someone looks in the windows.
  • Tall hedges give you a sense of privacy, but they also provide a safe place for criminals to hide. Trim shrubs that obscure your doors, windows and paths.
  • Be careful when installing fences around your home – remember that if others can’t see your property at all, they will not know if a break-in has occurred.
  • Light the exterior of your home, especially the backside of your home. Add motion detector lights near doors and driveways. These can be set to operate only after dark.
  • Lock all windows and doors – especially garage doors - even during daytime hours, since this is when most break-ins occur.
  • Solid-core doors are better than hollow ones. Investing in a metal door will pay off after a few years since it also provides added insulation which can reduce your electric bills!
  • A deadbolt lock (properly installed with 3-inch screws) is more secure than many other "standard" door locks.
  • Be sure that any points of entry from the outside – such as window air conditioning units, doors with hinges on the outside, or windows that open from below – are properly secured from the inside.
  • Use automatic timers for lamps and TVs in your home when traveling.
  • If you have an alarm system, use it! If you don’t, get a sticker that LOOKS like you have an alarm system. Or, get a ‘beware of dog’ sign and post it in visible places.
  • If you hide a spare key, make sure it’s NOT in an obvious, easy-to-think of place.
  • Talk to neighbors about starting a neighborhood watch program, and place stickers on your windows to let others know that one is in effect.
  • When vacationing: Leave a (locked) car in the driveway, stop the mail and newspapers, have a neighbor check for deliveries and arrange to have your grass cut or snow shoveled.

With just a few low-cost and easy-to-implement changes around the home, your house or apartment can feel like the safe haven it’s meant to be.

What other tips do you have for keeping your home safe and secure?

Geralin Thomas, a Cary mom of two, is a professional organizer and productivity expert. She owns Metropolitan Organizing and is a regular on A&E's show Hoarders.


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  • StrollinMama Jul 29, 2012

    Leave your animals at home with a house-sitter instead of boarding them!

  • Twittyfan Jul 27, 2012

    Moppie I agree 100%!!!I have never and will never put I am on vacation on Facebook.. I wait until I get back and then post pictures...

  • americaneel Jul 27, 2012

    Put a "Beware of Miniature Poodle" sign on all doors

  • moppie Jul 27, 2012

    I'd like to add something I think is mostly common sense, but then again, maybe not! Please don't post on your Facebook or Twitter account that you are headed out of town for vacation or work! Yes, I'm sure all your friends want to see your beach pictures, but it's also an open invitation for someone to break in since they know you won't be at home for a week or two.