The last thing you want to do is return from your vacation to find your home damaged or compromised. Here are a few basic measures you can take to protect your home before you leave.
Keep a Low Profile
Don’t announce the exact dates you’ll be away. If you feel the need to leave a voicemail, email auto reply, or social media post, make it vague.
Tend to the Mail
Nothing announces your absence quicker than a doorstep covered in newspapers and a mailbox stuffed with letters. Either suspend delivery or have someone pick up items for you regularly and check on your home.
Don’t Forget the Yard
Either hire someone to cut your lawn or ask a friend. Long grass is another sure fire way to let a burglar or vandal know you’re not home.
Install Security Cameras
Security cameras aren’t expensive and they’re great deterrents. Ensure they’re clearly visible and not mounted so high that a person can hide their face with a hat or hoodie.
Buy Outdoor Security Lights
Take a walk around your house and check for potential hiding spots. If you see any areas where shrubs obscure windows or doorways, trim them back. Install motion-activated security lights to illuminate shaded areas too.
Check Safety Devices
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, and sump pumps are only worthwhile if they work. Check the batteries and test they’re operating before you travel.
Unplug Devices & Appliances
Unless devices and appliances must have power while you’re away, it is best to unplug them. Phantom or standby power consumes electricity and small appliances and electronic devices pose a fire risk if they malfunction.
Shut Off Water
If you have a sprinkler system, you need to keep the water main on. Otherwise, shut it off. A leaky toilet, sink, hot water tank, dishwasher, or pipe can cause plenty of damage while you’re away.
Adjust Hot Water Tank
No one’s home, so why spend money on heating water? Most new water heaters include a vacation mode that lowers the water temperature. Otherwise, switch your water tank to low.
Check the Drains & Gutters
Clear your home’s gutters and storm drains of debris so if it decides to rain cats and dogs, your system can handle it with ease.
Don’t Create a Tomb
Don’t draw all the curtains and blinds so your house looks like a tomb. Leave them as you usually would, and put a radio on a timer in an area away from windows.
Store any valuables out of sight. It’s just too tempting for criminals if they can see moneymaking items in plain view.
Double Check Everything
Do a once over before you leave. Test all the windows and don’t forget the garage and patio doors. They’re relatively easy to secure inexpensively, but don’t rely on standard locks. Garage doors deserve deadbolts and patio doors should have a pin or track lock.
Don’t Stash Spare Keys
If you want to leave spare keys with a friend, that’s great. However, leaving keys under a doormat, over a door, or under a plant pot is very dangerous. Burglars check these spots.
Securing your home is a logical first step, but before you leave check your homeowner’s insurance policy too. If you haven’t done an insurance review with your agent lately, it only takes a few minutes, protects you from the financial losses, and provides peace of mind.