Summer vacationing ahead? Keep home safe while you’re away

By the CRA’s Safety and Security Expert, Board Director and retired police officer Des Ryan.

Now that the nicer weather has arrived, many of us are looking forward to getting away from the city, whether for just a few days here and there, or every weekend (and beyond!)

Your home insurance company probably has a clause stating that someone must physically enter the premise every 48 hours or so to make sure that some calamity has not befallen your home, such as pipes bursting. While they’re at it, perhaps whomever you have drop by can bring your mail, newspapers, and/or fliers in.

Maybe you have an alarm system on your doors and/or windows. If not (or even if you do), consider setting up some lights and/or a radio on a timer to give your place that lived-in look and sound while  you’re away. And don’t forget to ask a neighbour to have an eye while you’re away.

All this is great, but what can we do proactively?

I can’t really speak to any potential plumbing issues you may have, but I would strongly suggest you check your social media posts (and those of your children). As exciting as it all is, posting a countdown until your three-week vacation on Twitter is like taking an ad out in the newspaper advising that your house will be empty. Or, at the very least, you won’t be there. And the Facebook photos that you are posting while you  are away are great, until someone who may not have your security settings reposts them.

We all know that packing the car the night before is a thing of the past. If you are like me and recall those days fondly, having everything that has to go packed and ready by the door for the morning works. Even if you have an enclosed trunk space in your vehicle (which, increasingly, most of us don’t),  packing the night before can be risky business. Popping a trunk is easier than it looks.

Oh, and while we’re on it – the notion that keeping your car key fobs in the freezer will prevent thieves from disabling the auto-locking system? Not true. Read this article if you’re not convinced.

Which leads me to another thing: when you are away, do not leave your valuables lying around. Like the keys to your car. Or your laptop. Or jewelry. Or cash.

If someone should happen to break into your home while you are away and you have a security alarm, there is a five-to-10 minute delay from the time your alarm is activated and the company calls the police. Depending on the number of outstanding calls, there could be another 10-to-who knows? minute delay before officers arrive. In most cases, a burglar is in and out of a home within five minutes, grabbing whatever they can get their hands on as they go.

Best bet? Keep your vacation plans off social media, have a neighbour keep an eye on your place  make sure your alarm is set, pack your family jewels away, and enjoy your holiday.

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