How to Keep Your Vacation Home Safe
If you own a property that you only use during part of the year, you’ll want to extend your eyes and ears as much as possible so you know exactly what’s going on while you’re away. In order to do that, you’ll need to add some security measures in and around the property to ensure that it’s not vulnerable to weather, break-ins, problematic renters, and other concerns in your absence.
Vacation Home Security Systems
Whether you choose professional installation or a self-installed system, we suggest choosing a provider that includes basic break-in protection and environmental monitoring. This includes equipment like motion sensors, glass break detectors, and smoke alarms. That way, you’ll have ease of mind that your vacation home will be protected and you’ll always be notified if an intrusion or fire is detected.
Vacation Home Security Camera Systems
Home security cameras are available as part of a larger home security system or as standalone products that you monitor yourself. If you rent out your vacation property, be sure to keep any interior cameras focused on common areas to protect your belongings. You should disclose the cameras to your tenants.
Depending on the property and its climate, you may want to consider installing a smart thermostat and/or some low temperature sensors. These devices present a convenience factor (you don’t want it to be 100 degrees in the house when you arrive) but they also can help you save money by helping your HVAC system run at maximum efficiency and alerting you of dangerously low temperatures (which can cause freezing and burst pipes, among other considerations).
Flood sensors, also known as water leak detectors, are great additions to areas like garages, basements and kitchens because they help you rest assured that property damage doesn’t go unnoticed for a prolonged period of time.
Smart locks help you provide customizable access to each one of your visitors. You can assign custom PIN codes to each visitor or repair person and follow along on a smartphone app to verify when they arrive and leave. You can revoke access codes at any time.
Motion activated lights, sensors and security lights helps to deter break-ins or burglary by illuminating the activity around your home. “If your budget allows for it, try to put sensors on as many windows and doors as possible,” says Jon Knight, Chief Security Officer at Fortified Estate. “If you have a digital monitor on all access points of your house you are in a much better situation.”
Vacation Home Security Tips
Beyond installing a home security system, there are other measures you can take to avoid break-ins and damage to your vacation home:
- Fortify your home’s windows and exterior doors. Make sure the locks work and that the doors have solid deadbolts and aren’t flimsy enough to kick in.
- Maintain all major appliances and make sure everything is off when you leave the house. Depending on factors like how long you’re away and the climate in the area, you may want to turn off the water and unplug major appliances to avoid fire and flood risks.
- Make sure there’s not junk mail piling up on your doorstep. This is a sure sign that the house is unoccupied. Request that the USPS holds or forwards your mail as appropriate.
- Hire someone to maintain the yard and clear snow as necessary. This is a health and safety measure that also helps deter burglary. Trespassers prefer to take advantage of homes that look empty, or homes with overgrown yards. Discourage unwanted visitors with a home that appears well-kept and lived in.
- Ideally, you’ll also know a neighbor or another trusted person who lives close to your vacation home, so they can alert you of any suspicious activity. “If possible, ask a friend to visit your house every so often, for example once a week,” says Knight. “Don't have them visit on a regular pattern (like every Sunday morning) - keep it random so your home is looked after during different days of the week.”
- Most intruders won’t bother your home if it appears like someone is there, so consider having lights installed outside of your home around things like windows, your driveway, and pathway to your front door. For extra protection, there are motion activated lights on the market that will turn on whenever someone walks past the sensor.