Keep your apartment safe this holiday

 

The holidays are all about good cheer, tradition, family, time off and- for many- travel. According to AAA, last year about 41 million Americans traveled at least 50 miles for Thanksgiving and more than 60 million traveled at least that far during the Christmas holiday.

No matter how happy and care-free the occasion, people are always a bit leery about leaving their homes unoccupied and unattended during the holidays. Most do not have the Home Alone-esque luxuries of scalding hot doorknobs and swinging metal pipes to deter home invaders. While home invasions do not necessarily increase over the holiday, city officials still advises people to take precautions.

Leaving your house unattended at such a distance for even a few days presents a prime opportunity for prowlers. And during a time when most burglars know that there will be fewer residents occupying their homes and keeping an eye on the neighborhood in general increases the vulnerability of your home.

There are few things more important than your home- so why risk compromising its security. With the help of experts, Chicago Apartment Finders put together five simple, but effective tips that will keep your mind at ease when away for the holidays:

1) “Yes, We’re Open” – The last thing you want to do when you are away for the holidays is close shop. One of the most common missteps of those that fall victim to holiday burglary is leaving their homes with the “shut-down” look. If you choose to do this, you might as well hang a “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign in your front window. To give your home a “lived in” look, one step would be purchasing a timer for indoor and outdoor lights, television, and radio and set it to turn on/off at random times. This will give the illusion that someone is indeed inside. Also, when you are away, leave blinds and curtains in their normal positions and make sure to shovel and clean off walkways and sidewalks. Perhaps even entertain the idea of purchasing an outdoor motion detector from your local hardware store.

2) “Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends” – Finding a reliable neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your home while you’re away is one step that will alleviate the majority of your anxiety when skipping town. Have someone you trust collect your mail, take out your garbage, draw curtains, feed your pet, and help with other general upkeep tasks. And, depending on how flexible your friend’s schedule is, ask him/her to alternate the times he/she comes over. Make sure to provide this person a list of emergency contact information in addition to your own and alert him/her of any visitors that could be dropping by. Another important tip would be to provide car keys in case any vehicles left behind need to be moved in the event of an emergency. Under no circumstance should you leave keys outside your home when you’re out of town. Spare keys hidden in the typical spots, under doormats and in flowerpots, only increase the chances of a possible home invasion.

3) Smoke and fire – Although this seems like a no-brainer, you would be surprised how often the following tip is over-looked: Make sure to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and pop in some new batteries. Also, do not overload electrical outlets- a good “rule of thumb,” away from home or not. Maybe even go so far as to simply unplug appliances and other electronics while you’re out of town to put your mind even more at ease.

4) Do Your Homework – Inspect and review your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Make certain your insurance is current and know that which it covers.

5) Out of sight, out of mind – Move expensive equipment and other valuable belongings in your home and vehicles out of sight while you’re away. This goes for holiday gifts; items like stereos, televisions, computers, iPods, and GPS units; family keepsakes; and irreplaceable collectibles.

When you know you’ve taken logical, thoughtful steps to secure the safety of your home while you’re away, you will enjoy your vacation that much more. Go ahead and have another glass of eggnog and enjoy time with family. You’ll have less to worry about.