No one needs to tell you how important your home is. It’s where you live, where your family is, and keeps you secure. But when you’re away you need to keep it secure. The last thing you’ll want to do while having fun is worry needlessly. Here’s some important safety tips to keep your home in perfect working order while you and your family enjoy your vacation.
Don’t announce your trip – With all the current options to include your location when you update it’s easier than ever to tell everyone when you’re not at home. But no matter how secure you might think an online site is, history has proven that it is not always the case. While you might be excited to tell everyone all the details about your upcoming trip or post the pictures of feet relaxing by the pool, this tells everyone that your home and possession are unguarded. Wait till you get back to share the joys of your vacation. Also, turn off the volume on your home phone so the ringing won’t signal an opportunity to passersby, and don’t change your voice mail greeting to say you’re out of town.
Make sure gutters, downspouts, and drains are clear – If water overflows from its proper channels, it can seep under siding and flood the basement.
Trim tree limbs – Cut branches that extend over your house, particularly any that are dying or dead-the ones that are bare when they should have leaves in case there’s a storm while you’re on vacation.
Eliminate Easy Access – According to statistics from the FBI, 61% of burglars use force to gain entry, but they’ll often look for open doors and windows first. Check that all door and window locks are working (including windows on the second story), and repair any broken glass, particularly in basement windows. Bring in any hidden keys.
Secure the garage – If you’re leaving your car at home, park it outside, against the garage door, to block access. Remove garage door remotes from the car and unplug the electric door opener (the box unit attached to the garage ceiling), so the door can’t be opened while you’re away. Make sure to lock the car and garage doors.
Stop all deliveries and pickups
Have your mail held while you’re away. You can sign up online at holdmail.usps.com/holdmail. Don’t forget to cancel garbage pickup and newspaper deliveries, too.
Watch the water – After the cycle has finished, empty the dishwasher, then leave the dishwasher door open. That will allow the interior to dry, and it won’t smell musty by the time you get home. If a hose to your dishwasher or washing machine happens to crack or come loose while you’re away, you could come back to a flood, so turn off the water supply to those two appliances. For the dishwasher, the lever handle is usually located under the sink. For the washing machine, look for a valve switch behind the machine. Flush the toilet and leave the lid up (just this once) so you don’t come home to icky, stagnant water.
Power down small appliances – A power surge can damage these items or even cause a fire. Unplug any small appliances and electronics that aren’t plugged into a surge protector (such as the toaster and coffeemaker) and turn all your surge protector switches to off.
Arm the alarms – Notify your security company that you’ll be away. Give a family member or friend your alarm code, the security company’s phone number, your itinerary, and your contact numbers. Press the “test” button on your smoke alarms to make sure they work, and change the battery if necessary.
Don’t turn off the AC – It may sound like a waste of money and energy, but a warm temperature indoors can cause mold and mildew to grow in just a few days. Set the air conditioner to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and your house will stay cool enough to prevent both.
Light your home like you’re there – The kitchen is usually in the back of the house (a favorite spot for break-ins) and it often has no plug-in lights. Move a lamp into the kitchen and plug it into a timer that you can set. You’ll want to put on several lights in front, possibly the front door light as well (which will require an outdoor timer). Be sure you set them from dusk to dawn.