When asked what they want to do when they retire, many seniors place “travel” at the top of the list. Of course, travel doesn’t look the same for everyone. For some, it’s weekend getaways. Others throw everything they can’t live without into an RV and hit the highway. Still others dust off their passports and see the world. They all have one thing in common, though: They want their homes to remain secure while they’re away. In this post, we share a variety of burglary prevention tips, including new technologies that make home security easier than ever before.
Burglary Prevention: Home Security Basics
We start with basic home security advice. For example, did you know that nearly one-third of burglaries don’t require forced entry? The thieves simply walked in through an unlocked door or window. So, keep your doors and windows locked. Install a quality deadbolt on every door that leads to the outside. Then, make sure you use it!
In addition to installing excellent locks on your doors and windows, make sure the doors themselves are high caliber. The best choice is a solid door, made of either wood or metal. And keep the trees and shrubs near those doors and windows trimmed. You don’t want to give thieves somewhere to hide.
You should also install ample outside lighting, particularly over points of entry (front door, garage door, side and rear doors). Motion sensor lights are a great choice.
Do you have a pet door? It should be locked or blocked. You should also block basement windows or install locked window well covers. A pole in the track, such as a broom handle, helps secure sliding glass doors.
Don’t Make It Easy for Thieves
One way homeowners make it easy for thieves is by hiding a key outside. No matter how clever you think your hide-a-key spot is, it’s not good enough. If you want an emergency key, ask a neighbor or friend you trust to keep one for you.
If you park your vehicles outside the garage, remove the remote garage door openers. Thieves simply break into your car and then hit the remote for easy home access. Or, install a garage door opener that uses a combination keypad.
Finally, lock away ladders and other tools that might make home entry easy.
Don’t Make It Obvious You’re Traveling
After you cover the basics, do what you can to make your home look occupied. That means canceling newspaper delivery before you go out of town. Or, ask a neighbor to collect them for you. Nothing says “nobody’s home” like a pile of old newspapers in the driveway.
Also, keep your plans to yourself. Don’t chat about it at the beauty parlor or barber shop – or any other public places for that matter. This is doubly true on social media, even if you’re just going out for the evening. And, once you’re out of town, don’t start posting photos of your vacation. You never know who’s seeing them. Wait until you’re home to brag about your trip.
You can also park a vehicle in the driveway – either yours or a friend’s. Just make sure it doesn’t include a garage door opener.
Make it Look Like You’re at Home
There are numerous apps designed to do one thing: Make it appear you’re home when you are not. One of the more popular options is an app that turns on and shuts off any light attached to a connected wireless switch. Lights that turn on and off randomly appear much more realistic than those that switch on when the sun goes down and off at bedtime.
You can even answer your door from thousands of miles away with a smart doorbell. Thieves often ring a doorbell and, when nobody answers, assume the home is empty. They take that as their invitation to enter. Also known as video doorbells, the app notifies your smart phone when someone rings your doorbell. Some even notify you whenever there’s movement at your front door. The built-in camera allows you to see who it is and the speaker lets you talk to them.
There are also fake TV apps that make it look and sound like someone’s watching television. This one is easy to hook up to a light sensor, which turns it on once it’s dark. You can also find apps that make common household noises, such as a running vacuum or boiling kettle.
Finally, if you travel a lot, you may want to invest in wireless shades that you raise and lower via an app on your smart phone. This is one of the more expensive options – around $400 per window on average – but it’s a good investment for frequent travelers.
Our final category requires living, breathing people, starting with the most obvious: Hire a house sitter. After all, nothing makes your home look occupied the way a person occupying it does. As a bonus, this person can water plants, care for pets, bring in the mail, etc.
If that isn’t in the budget, consider trading favors with a neighbor. Sweep leaves from the walk, shovel snow, water outdoor plants, pick up papers, and otherwise remove outside signals of an empty home.
Does Medicare Travel with You?
If you travel and have Medicare, you may wonder if you’re covered. The short answer is, probably, if you’re traveling with the United States and have Original Medicare. If you have Medicare Advantage and travel out of state, you’re probably only covered for medical emergencies. When traveling to foreign countries, though, coverage is extremely limited. See our previous article, Traveling and Your Medicare Coverage, for the full details.
If you have any questions about your Medicare coverage, call us toll-free at 855-350-8101 to speak to a licensed agent.