Monday, July 6, 2009

Think safety first before your vacation

Posted By Lynn Karasiuk James/Special to the Times
If you travel for vacation or away on business an empty home is a very easy target for thieves. There are several things residents can do to ensure home security and safety when you are gone.
Always leave a phone number where you can be reached with a trusted friend, colleague or neighbour. This is helpful so that they can reach you in case there is an emergency.
Ask your local paper carrier to stop delivery of fliers or newspapers or you can ask a neighbour to remove papers from your mailbox and store them for your family until you return. Canada Post has a nominal fee for stopping mail delivery and is capable of holding mail until you return.
Arrange for lawn and yard care when you return. Not only do you not want to be ticketed under the City’s bylaw for having an unsightly yard upon your return, but also your home needs to appear lived in. Have friends or neighbours water plants, gardens, and flowerbeds; as well as taking care of the lawn (or snow removal depending on time of year).
You should leave your home secure, locking all doors, disabling your overhead garage door, and locking all outdoor sheds. Your home should appear lived in with your lights or a TV on timers. As well, if leaving a parked vehicle on your property is necessary, leave a set of keys with a friend so that the vehicle can be periodically moved to appear as it was driven.
Close all windows and shut off ringers to your phone. Learn how to access your home answering machine from an alternate location to check your messages on a daily basis. Outgoing phone messages should be the same on your house phone whether you are away for eight hours at work or away for three weeks on a vacation.
Keep yourself secure. Find out from your insurance agent or read your policy to find out how often your home needs to be checked during the winter heating season to ensure that your coverage is intact.
As well, keep photocopies of passports, important identification cards, and bank account numbers in a locked and secure place.
Tragic but true, some people come home and discover their home has been vandalized or broken into. Don’t enter the home. Report the break and enter to the police from a neighbour’s telephone or from your cellphone. Wait for the police to arrive before entering your home, they will proceed to investigate and inform you when you should enter your home.
Albertans have a common goal of home and neighbourhood safety. For more crime prevention tips see Crime Prevention is everyone’s responsibility.