The election is past and now the holidays are just around the corner. For some of you, that means miles and miles of road … or miles and miles airport security check lines. In no time at all, you'll be packing the bags and the car and you'll be off to see family and friends.
But before you start that 10-hour drive to your uncle’s so you can discuss the election results in absolute tranquility or before you wedge yourself into that coach-class seat to hear for the umteenth time how you will “breathe normally” in case of some catastrophic failure during your flight, it's important to prepare your house for your time away — so at least when you turn your thoughts toward home, your mind is at ease.
Here are six ways to prepare your home for vacation, some methods using today’s technology to make your home safer and appear occupied while you are away:
6 ways to keep your home safe while you're away:
- Don’t let mail or other delivered items, especially pizza, collect at your front door, indicating to nefarious creatures that (1) you waste perfectly good food and (2) you are not home. Forward your mail, stop your newspaper delivery or ask a neighbor or someone you trust to watch for the same, including packages and flyers that may appear at your door.
- Install motion-sensor exterior lights around your house. These will illuminate the area outside your house any time anybody or anything approaches your house —including your neighbor’s dog as it goes for the pizza. The light is a great deterrent against would-be thieves, but for the Fido, he won’t care. He’ll just stand there happily licking his chops. But, hey, at least the pizza didn't go to waste, right?
- Place indoor lights on timers to come on and off at various times during the night to make it appear the house is occupied. You can even install “smart lighting” switches that are programmable so you can set times for when you want them on or off. So with these, or the older timer technology, you can make it so the lights are on and nobody is home — but nobody else knows that.
- Set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees. This prevents pipes from freezing and bursting, turning your house into an indoor skating rink. These days, setting your thermostat is easy to do especially if it’s a smart device, such as Google’s Nest Thermostat or other smartphone and app-accessible devices. As long as you have Internet access, you can simply open the app and change the temperature of your home, whether you’re at your dining room table listening to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or listening to progressive rock while seated in a Транссиби́рская магистра́ль (or "Trans-Siberian Railway" in Russian) dining car crossing the frozen plains of Siberia.
- Install Internet-accessible security cameras. Available at any home electronics or big box store, these easily installed IP cameras enable you to monitor your home from the TSR, or wherever, and watch Fido eat that pizza you had delivered to your front porch. Even if the motion detecting exterior lights don’t come on, some cameras come with infrared technology that will still allow you to see all the pizza-inhaling action live. Some of these Wi-Fi surveillance cameras come with two-way intercoms and the ability to change the camera’s viewing angle, all done from your smartphone.
- Check out other smart devices such as water leak sensors or Google’s Nest Protect smoke detector which you can set to send you or a trusted friend a notification if a leak is detected, or in the case of the smoke detector, to your local fire department, should a fire break out.
Happy holidays and happy travels!
Please note: Now with all Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, we recommend changing the passwords on your devices from their default passwords at installation. This is especially true of your Wi-Fi security cameras. Doing so will help defend your smart devices and home from being hijacked by hackers and used in DDoS attacks. We even recommend this for your home's printer, which also can be made a "zombie" for such an attack. Here are some tips on making strong passwords.
Also, if seeking for printing or security camera solutions for your business, we highly recommend not going with big box solutions as, though great for your home, they are typically not professional grade and are thereby limited in their abilities and security options — and in the case of printers, may very likely be more expensive to operate in the long-run. If you need professional-grade equipment, we'd love to help you out or at least point you in the right direction. See below on how to contact us.
R.K. Black, Inc. is an Oklahoma City-based leading provider of office technology solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in and around central Oklahoma. We specialize in everything business technology from copier, fax, printer and scanner technology to document management, onsite paper shredding services, VoIP phone systems and managed IT support to video surveillance solutions.
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