Keep the home safe while on vacation


Special to the Altus Times



Whether jet-setting across the globe or enjoying a nearby “stay-cation,” AAA’s top ten tips to safeguard things back home can make the vacation more fun-filled and less stressful.

“According to the Insurance Information Institute, the summer months of July and August have the highest rates of residential burglaries,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Burglars see vacations as opportunities to target empty houses, so it’s important to do what you can before leaving home to help make sure you have a safe and secure home to come back to.”

Here’s what to do to protect a home while away:

1) Lock up. Dead-bolt window and door locks are the first line of defense to secure the home, since they can slow burglars down and may deter them entirely. Check with an insurance agent for a discount on these devices.

2) Use an alarm. Invest in an effective burglar alarm that alerts the police, fire department and other emergency services. Check with an insurance agent for a discount on alarm systems.

3) Disconnect computers. Make sure any personal information on a computer is difficult to access. Disconnect electronic devices from the internet to prevent hackers.

4) Keep valuables locked and well-hidden. Expensive jewelry, electronic devices and other valuables should be hidden from plain view and placed in safe lock boxes.

5) Make the home look inhabited. Use timers to turn lights and televisions on and off. Temporarily stop newspaper deliveries and arrange to have mail picked up or held by the post office. An unkempt lawn is also an indicator to burglars that the owner is away. Hire a lawn service to maintain the yard if gone for long.

6) Tell someone trusted. Ask a dependable neighbor, friend or family member to keep an eye on the home while away, doing things like taking door hangers off front door handles and collecting any packages that have been delivered. Give a spare house key and vacation contact information to this person so he or she will know who to call in case of emergency. Alerting the local police will also add another level of security.

7) Use discretion. Avoid discussing vacation plans in public places such as at the grocery store or at a local café. Although vacations are exciting, avoid posting about it and plans on social media. Someone may see those posts and target the home while away.

8) Create a home inventory. In the event the owner needs to file a claim, preparing a home inventory of possessions beforehand will help make the process easier.

9) Check the homeowner’s insurance policy. In case of theft or damage to property, arrange for all the coverage needed.

10) Make sure your homeowners insurance policy is up-to-date. If there is a new alarm system, dead-bolt window or door locks, the insurance agent needs to be informed.

A not-for-profit, fully tax-paying organization, AAA Oklahoma provides its 391,000 Oklahoma members with emergency roadside assistance and auto travel services. Plus, the auto club offers members and the general public a wide range of personal insurance, worldwide travel and financial services at branch offices across Oklahoma and online at AAA.com. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Special to the Altus Times

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