The holiday season brings gatherings with family and friends that can take us away from home for periods of time. Unfortunately, criminals are aware that many people travel for the holidays and look for homes that appear to be vacant. These ten tips for improving home security during the holidays will allow you to travel with peace of mind this winter.

1. Upgrade Your Outdoor Lights

A house that is well-lit from the outside is discouraging to would-be burglars. The last thing they want is to be spotted climbing in a window or kicking in a door. Installing motion-activated outdoor lights in the front and back of your house is a strong deterrent to criminals.

2. Inform Your Neighbors of Your Plans

If your neighbors do not know you are out of town, they will not think twice if they see someone at your house. Telling them how long you plan to be away and leaving contact info provides an extra level of security because they can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity on your property.

3. Pause Mail Delivery

Improving home security during the holidays means minimizing any evidence that you are away. One of the biggest clues that you have not been at home for a long time is an overflowing mailbox. You can easily correct this problem by contacting your local post office. They will hold delivery on your mail for up to one month.

4. Suspend Newspaper Delivery

Another indicator that your home is vacant is a large pile of newspapers sitting in your driveway. This is like an open invitation to a potential burglar. Every major newspaper has a suspension service for times you are on vacation.

5. Plan for Garbage Days

On trash days, if there is a garbage can on the curb of every home except yours, thieves may suspect you’re out of town. Enlist the help of a friend or neighbor to move your bin to the road on garbage day, and then bring it back in.

6. Get Electronic Timers

Many people think they’ve covered home security during the holidays by leaving one light and the TV on. Not only does this waste electricity if the same light is on day and night, but it’s also obvious that you are not home. Mimic real life activity by installing electronic timers to randomly turn different lights, the TV, or a radio on and off throughout the day.

7. Prepare For Snow

An untouched driveway or sidewalk after a hard snow is an advertisement for an empty house. Ask a friend, neighbor, or snow removal service to swing by and shovel your driveway if it snows while you’re away.

8. Inform Your Alarm Company

Notify your alarm company of your plans to improve home security during the holidays. If your alarm goes off, they can immediately alert the authorities. If you don’t have a security alarm installed, you may want to add one before your holiday trip.

9. Remove Spare Keys

Most homeowners keep spare keys hidden outside the house in case they accidentally get locked out. Criminals are well aware of this and know where to look for spare keys. If a friend or neighbor needs one, give it to them directly instead of leaving it outside. You can also use smart home technology to control your locks, lights, blinds, thermostat, and more. More and more homeowners are taking advantage of this new technology.

10. Final Checks For Home Security During the Holidays

The last thing you should do before you leave the house to begin your travels is double check everything. Be sure nothing unnecessary is plugged in, make sure the stove is off, and triple check that all the doors and windows are locked. If you are using an alarm system or smart home technology, test it out to make sure it is set up correctly.

Taking care of little details will help keep your home safe while you are away. You’ll enjoy your vacation much more when you know everything will be exactly as you left it when you return.

JS Consulting Group wishes you a happy and safe holiday season! Be sure to read our tips on fire safety to keep your home and family safe over the holidays.