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Protect your home when traveling this holiday season

Many families travel during the holiday season, when gatherings with family and friends require individuals to pack up their vehicles and hit the open road to reconnect with loved ones. Such get-togethers are great ways to make an already festive season even more joyous, but being away for extended periods of time may leave your home vulnerable to criminals.

Alarm systems and neighborhood watch programs can provide some peace of mind to homeowners, but there are additional ways to protect your home when traveling this holiday season.

Use timers to make it appear as though you are home. Entertainment systems and even certain home lighting products allow homeowners to make it seem as though they are home even when they aren't. Criminals are likely to be deterred from burglarizing homes that are well-lit, and noise inside the home can give burglars the impression that someone is inside. Use the timing device on your entertainment or sound system to play music at night, and make sure lights come on at the same time and stay on until the time you would ordinarily go to bed.

Don't allow mail to stockpile in your mailbox. A telltale sign that no one is home is mail that begins to stockpile in a mailbox. A mailbox overflowing with mail indicates to burglars that you're not home and also makes you vulnerable to potential identity thieves looking to peruse your mailbox for sensitive information. Whether you suspend mail delivery while you're away or ask a neighbor to pick up your mail each day, make sure letters are not allowed to accumulate in your mailbox while you are out of town.

Install motion detecting lights around your property. Families who routinely leave home for extended periods of time should install motion-detection devices around their properties. Such devices will immediately illuminate yards or areas around the home when movement is detected within their range. Lights flashing in the dark of night can deter burglars and may even earn homeowners discounts on their insurance policies.

Be cautious with social media. Today's criminals are tech-savvy, and some may turn to social media to look for potential victims. When leaving home for an extended holiday vacation, do not broadcast your plans on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Though you might be tempted to post photos of you and your family hitting the ski slopes or sitting poolside with grandma and grandpa, wait until you return from your trip to share such photos.

Hire a plowing service before leaving your home. Families who live in areas that are prone to heavy snowfall should hire a snow plow service before leaving. A driveway buried in snow for several days is another telltale sign that no one is home, so make sure you hire a plow service to remove snow from your driveway even when you are not home.

Travel is commonplace during the holiday season. Homeowners must take steps to protect their homes while they are away on vacation or visiting family and friends.

Source: MetroCreative