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SWFL Custom Homes Blog

How to Keep Your Home Safe When You Aren't There

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It’s very common for homes here in South Florida to go unoccupied for stretches of time. Thousands of homeowners spend months at a second home in another state, while others simply enjoy taking off for vacations in the Keys or Caribbean. For this reason, home security is an especially hot topic among local residents.

Our years of experience building safe homes in the region has taught us all the tricks to keeping a property fully protected. Follow our tips below to ensure that your home is well-guarded whenever you’re away.

Secure your home

Set Up a Security System

By and far, installing a fully-functioning security system is one of the best things you can do to defend your home. There are many security systems available on the market, but the most effective will include the following features:

  • 24/7 monitoring by live agents that dispatch police when alarms are triggered
  • Outdoor and indoor cameras
  • Storage of surveillance video recordings
  • Break-in sensors for multiple points of entry

Extra features that can maximize the protection offered include video doorbells and smart locks.

Whatever you choose, make sure that the system provides full coverage for all possible break-in points in your home, and can capture footage of criminals making their way into and out of your property. Google Nest and SimpliSafe are both highly-rated security brands, but there are a number of other local companies that can help you get a system up and running as well.

Equip Your Property with Motion-Activated Lights

Having motion-activated lights that cover likely entry points to your home can be one of the best deterrents of a break-in. Burglars and other ne'er-do-wells want to be concealed by darkness when they are breaking into a home. Having a spotlight suddenly shine on them is often enough to get them to abandon their mission.

Motion-activated lights are also great for signalling to your neighbors when someone is lurking around. Even if you’re not home, a neighbor may notice your lights go off and witness the would-be intruder.

These lights can be purchased on their own, but they are also commonly available as add-on products with home security systems.

Program Smart Lights

Giving the appearance of being at home can help throw off criminals who are looking for a vacant house to rob. Setting up a couple of smart lights that can be controlled remotely via an app, or switched on and off with timers, is an easy way to make it seem as if someone is still occupying the building.

It’s possible to buy plugs that have automatic timers built-in. These will work best with existing lighting that you don’t want to have to think about while you’re away. Automation is also possible with a smart bulb system, but they also offer manual options if you’d rather control the lighting at your own discretion.

Installing a gate

Install a Gate

Adding a gate to your property’s driveway is an effective way to keep intruders out. It can be quite difficult for them to physically climb over a gate of the right design, and it can also prevent them from being able to drive right up and pose as regular visitors.

Sunstate Gate is a popular contractor for security gates in the area of Englewood and Port Charlotte. Baratech Gates & Automation is another provider that is well-known throughout the region.

Safely Store Your Spare Key

Having a spare key tucked somewhere outside can come in handy, but it is also a liability. Many people tend to hide their spare keys in places that could be easily guessed by a burglar, especially one with a lot of experience infiltrating houses.

Instead of hiding your key under the doormat or a plant pot, it’s safest to put it in a lockbox. These boxes can only be unlocked with a custom PIN code, allowing you to control exactly who has access. Just be sure to keep your PIN code stored safely and conveniently (such as on your phone) so that you aren’t out of luck if you forget your keys one day.

Secure your windows

Don’t Forget to Secure Your Windows

Windows are particularly vulnerable points of entry in a home. Their built-in locks are sometimes weak, and many can also be opened by shattering. Furthermore, when left insufficiently covered, they can give thiefs a perfect view of your home’s interior and your belongings.

To safeguard your windows, make sure that you have all of them equipped with blinds or non-transparent coverings that can obstruct the view. You may need to add secondary locks, or stoppers that prevent the window from being slid open.

If you do get a home security system, try to choose one that contains glass-shatter sensors. These are programmed to detect the precise sound of glass breaking, and will trigger the alarm as soon as it’s heard.

Be Cautious on Social Media

Finally, it’s important to note that home security also extends to the online world as well. While we’d all like to think that it’s safe to share updates of our comings and goings with our family and friends, it’s actually quite common for criminals to scope out their targets on social media. They can get an idea of what your daily routine looks like, and be informed about your plans to leave for longer periods of time.

When you post on social media, be careful not to disclose too much information. Don’t reveal the day or time when you are leaving, and don’t specify how long you’ll be away. If you’re taking photos when you’re gone, it’s best to wait until after you’ve returned home to upload them. Snowbirds are especially vulnerable in this sense, because posting photos that make it obvious they’re no longer in Florida is a sign that their home is all-clear for hopeful intruders.

Most importantly, check your profile’s privacy settings to gain better control over who can view your posts, and eliminate any people from your friends or followers who you don’t feel comfortable knowing about your home’s vacancy.


Building a Safe Retreat in Southern Florida

As custom home builders for the area of Englewood, Port Charlotte and North Port, we’ve seen our fair share of homeowners who are concerned about making sure their place is totally secure while they’re gone. We’ve helped countless residents design homes that have the best safety features, and connected them with subcontractors that can offer all the extras needed to attain maximum protection.

If you’re thinking of moving to the neighborhood and want assurance that you end up with a safe, dependable home, we can help make it happen. Reach out to our team to discuss the options for building a home that meets all of your standards to a tee.