Is your home safe when you're on vacation?
According to a study by AAA, thirty-five percent of Americans plan on taking at least one family vacation every year. If you plan on traveling for more than a couple of days, then you should make sure your home is properly protected while you’re away. Of course, you already know to check and double check that each window and door is properly locked, but you may be missing a couple of steps that will ensure your home is truly safe while you and your family are elsewhere.
Don’t let people know your home is empty.
- Suspend mail and newspaper services. You can sign up online to suspend USPS mail service and have your mail delivered to a local post office for up to thirty days. For trips longer than thirty days you should ask a neighbor or friend to pick up your mail. Contact your newspaper provider and ask them to temporarily postpone deliveries.
- Arrange for lawn care services while you’re gone. This will help make your home seem less abandoned to strangers.
- Install exterior lighting or motion detectors to deter burglars.
- Wait to post vacation pictures on social media. I know this is almost impossible for most people, but resist the urge to let the world know you’re not at home. Enjoy the time with your family or friends and post pictures when you return.
Accident-proof your home.
- Check the batteries in home security devices, including motion detectors, cameras, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace them if necessary.
- Shut off the main water supply. Often times a homeowner will call us upon returning from vacation because they have learned a broken pipe or malfunctioning appliance has caused water damages. After you turn off the water main valve you then need to empty the pipes by running water in your sinks and flushing your toilets. If you would like to leave the water on for an automated sprinkler system, then at least turn off the water supply to the dishwasher, washing machine, and to each toilet. You may think this is an uncommon event, but trust me, this happens all too often. You don’t want to come home to a disaster. Save yourself time and money by being just a little overcautious.
- Conserve energy. Switch your water heater to vacation mode or turn it off completely. Most water heaters now have a pre-programmed vacation mode. If yours does not, then you should be able to manually adjust the temperature. Another way to conserve energy is to set your thermostat to either four degrees above or below your normal temperature. For summer months, set the thermostat in the upper 70’s. For winter months, set the thermostat in the upper 50’s.
- Prevent a power surge by unplugging your electronics or make sure they are plugged into a surge protector.
- If you often lose power during a storm or day of heavy rain, then before you leave for vacation freeze a cup of water, place a penny on top of it, and leave it in your freezer. When you return home check to see if the penny is frozen on top of the cup. If the penny is not frozen on top, then this means your house lost power sometime during your trip. Inspect the food inside your refrigerator and freezer. You may need to throw several items away.
I hope these tips help to protect your home and give you more peace of mind during your next vacation.