Keep Your Home Safe When You Go on Vacation
Summertime is the perfect time to get away from it all, whether that means lounging on the beach, exploring a new city or simply getting back to nature. But even if you're the spontaneous type who doesn't like to over-plan your adventures, there's one thing you should never leave to chance: home safety while you're away.
Vacation home preparation isn't complicated, but it is important – just a few simple steps can help safeguard your property from theft or unexpected household disasters in your absence. Before you hit the road, take a few minutes to prepare your home so that you won't find an unpleasant surprise waiting for you when you return.
Pre-Vacation Security Tips
Ward off would-be burglars with these clever tactics:
- Enlist the help of a trusted neighbor or housesitter, if possible. Your helper can bring in the mail, put trash cans on the curb for collection and even move your car in and out of the driveway to give your home the appearance of being occupied.
- If you cannot have a neighbor or housesitter watch your home, place a hold on your mail, newspaper and package deliveries. The accumulation of mail and newspapers is a clear signal to burglars that you're out of town.
- Set timers on a few lights and perhaps your television to help make your home seem even more lived-in. If you use smart appliances, you may even be able to control them from your vacation destination with a few taps of your smartphone.
- Don't advertise your travel plans in public spaces, including on social media sites. Wait until after you return to share your travel photos and stories.
- If you're concerned about prowlers, you can call your local police station to let them know when you'll be out of town. They may be able to have an officer drive past your home once a day to help keep an eye out for anything that might be amiss.
Limit Potential Safety Hazards
Protect your home from costly disasters with a few more simple steps:
- You can eliminate the possibility of catastrophic plumbing leaks by closing your main water shut off valve before you leave. However, keep in mind that this will also shut down sprinkler systems and other plumbing fixtures you might want working in your absence. An alternative option is to install a warning system that will automatically shut down your main water valve if a leak is detected.
- Set your thermostat temperature higher to save money while you're away, but don't shut it off entirely. Keeping the temperature around 80 degrees Fahrenheit will help prevent damage to your furnishings from excessive heat and humidity. If you have a smart or programmable thermostat, you can create a more intricate cooling schedule.
- Schedule your annual air conditioner maintenance before you leave. This maintenance should be performed every year, ideally before the hottest days of summer, to help ensure smooth operation.
- Make sure your drains and downspouts are clear and efficiently carrying water away from your home. This is especially important when it comes to your air conditioner condensation draining system; if your system has a drain line that leads directly outside, pour a cup a white vinegar into the condensation tray to help flush out the line and inhibit the growth of clog-causing mold or algae.
- Trim the trees and bushes around your home. Overgrown vegetation can provide cover for people who might come snooping, and trimming tree branches can help minimize the risk of damage to your home from storms or high winds.
For more information on home safety and maintenance, visit our Learning Center.
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