Vacation safety tips – Part 1

Securing Your House

By John Hough

Memorial Day – the traditional start of the summer vacation season- will be here sooner than you think and the vacation season will be in full swing. Don’t allow your vacation to be ruined by worries over the security of your home while you are away or the safety of your family while you are traveling. By remembering and practicing some simple safety precautions you can ensure that your vacation will be fun and relaxing.

Make sure your home is protected while you’re away. To do that, try to make your home look like you never left. Be certain all your door and window locks are well constructed and in working order. And use them. Don’t forget to double-check basement windows and the garage door to make sure they are locked. If you have a home alarm system, activate it.

If you have not already done so, mark your valuables with a unique number or means of identification in the unlikely event that your home is burglarized and your property stolen while you are away. Take and store in a separate location photographs or videos of items that are so small or so valuable, for example pieces of jewelry, that marking them is not realistically possible. Any way you can mark your valuable property for future identification significantly increases the chances that you will be able to recover the property in the future if it is stolen.

Make your home appear “lived in.” Leave your shades or blinds in their normal positions. Stop mail and newspaper deliveries or ask a trustworthy neighbor to pick them up every day. Ask a neighbor to maintain your property by keeping the lawn mowed and watered. Ask that reliable neighbor to leave a trash container at your curb on collection day, then remove it after it has been emptied, and park a car in your driveway overnight occasionally. Put several home lights and perhaps even a radio on an automatic timer so they turn on and off at appropriate times. Remember, you are trying to make it appear that your house is “lived in.”

Never leave a house key “hidden” outside your home under a doormat, in a flower pot, or on the ledge of a door. Instead, leave a key with a trusted neighbor in case of an emergency. Provide your trip plans and an emergency contact telephone number to a neighbor or friend.

Now it’s time to get yourself ready for the trip. Clean out your wallet or purse before you leave; take only essential credit cards. Use credit cards or traveler’s checks instead of cash whenever possible. As you pack for your trip, make a record of your passport, credit card, and travelers check numbers as well as your plane, train, or bus ticket numbers. Give a copy of this record to a family member or friend for safekeeping and easy retrieval.

Lost or stolen wallets or purses are always an unfortunate possibility. In this era of heightened airport security, the loss or theft of your photographic identification such as your driver’s license from your wallet or purse could make passage through airport security very difficult or time consuming. As a precaution, if you have a secondary form of photographic identification that would be accepted by airport security such as a passport, keep that secondary form of photographic identification stored in a separate location so that if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, you still have a way to pass through airport security.

Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet in an inside front pocket. Consider taking a “fanny pack” or wearing a money pouch under your clothes. Pack as lightly as possible. Heavy, cumbersome bags will slow you down and make you more vulnerable to being robbed. Use inconspicuous bags. Expensive designer luggage draws unneeded attention to your belongings. If you are leaving on an extended trip, consider shipping large bags to your destination in advance. On your return trip mail bulky new purchases home or ask the merchant to ship the purchase for you.

Place a piece of paper with your name and itinerary inside each bag making identification easier if your exterior baggage identification tag is lost. Keep a separate record of the contents of checked luggage in the event you need to substantiate a claim for items in lost luggage.

Make sure you have enough prescription medication to last your entire trip, and then some just in case your return is delayed. Take a back-up prescription with you. Keep items of particular value such as prescription medication and jewelry in carry-on luggage that stays under your control.

You’re ready to go. Our next article will provide you with some important safety tips to follow while you’re on the road, staying in hotels and motels and sightseeing on that long awaited vacation.

The information in this article was gathered from the Los Angeles Police Department website and the Crime and Violence Prevention Center of the California Attorney General’s Office.

Officer John Hough is with the Central City Police Department. If you have any questions regarding law enforcement related topics including crime prevention or the elements of a particular criminal offense or a traffic violation, contact the newspaper and your question will be submitted for a published response. You should be aware that some information regarding specific criminal cases cannot legally be released to the public and some information regarding law enforcement topics cannot be released to the public due to security concerns. The newspaper publisher reserves the right to select the questions to be submitted for a response based upon the nature of the question and the general interest in the community in the question and the response.

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