Vacation is exciting! Nothing is more motivating than the thought of basking in the sun on your beach vacation or rock climbing on your long-awaited hiking trip. However, just as you have to pack and prepare appropriately for vacation, you also need to prepare your home for your absence. These 9 tips will help you avoid frustrating vacation busters such as power surges, broken pipes, and home invasions.
- Ask a friend for help. This is a great time to enlist the help of a friend or neighbor. Bribe them with fresh baked goods or the promise of a favor returned! Ask them to drive by your home once a day, or every other day. Give them a spare key and ask if they’ll bring in the mail, feed your pet turtle, water your plants, etc. Make sure you also leave this person your vacation itinerary and a way to contact you.
- Remove your spare key. If criminals suspect you’re away from the home, the first thing they’ll look for is a spare key. Before you jet off, remove the key under the mat or stored in the fake rock (you’re not fooling anyone anyway).
- Stop mail service. Either stop your mail and newspaper delivery or ask your friend or neighbors to pick up for you daily. Nothing clues criminals into your absence more than a pile of newspapers at your front door. Visit usps.com to put a ‘stop’ on your current delivery service.
- Freeze! If you’re taking a vacation during the winter and live in a colder climate, you could be at risk for frozen pipes. This is another time to ask a friend to stop by and check the faucets. If minimal water comes out, the pipes may be frozen. To avoid this, keep the heat on while you’re away and be sure to show your friend the location of the main water shut-off.
- Pull the plug. To protect your home from power surges, unplug major and minor appliances like TVs and computers. Added bonus: This will keep you from getting charges for “phantom” power use.
- Don’t advertise on the Web. With the prevalent use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every other social media channel, it’s easy to share your vacation excitement with friends and family. The perceived anonymity of the World Wide Web makes it feel safe to do so. However, keep in mind the people you are sharing your information with. Do you really know exactly who is seeing your travel plans? Do you want virtual strangers to know that you’ll be away from your home for days at a time? Be aware of the messages you leave on your answering machine, voicemail, or email replies as well.
- Notify the police. If you plan to be gone for a week or more, it may be worthwhile to contact your local police department. Perhaps they’ll go out of their way to drive by your home or street more often in your absence.
- Curtains closed? You may be tempted to draw your curtains tight while you’re gone so strangers cannot see into your home. However, this blocks friends and neighbors from being able to see into the home when checking on it as well. The best rule of thumb is to leave your curtains or blinds exactly as you normally do, but move any valuables such as jewelry or electronics out of plain sight if they’re visible from the windows.
- Light it up? It can be instinct to leave the lights on in your home while you’re gone. However, besides driving up your electric bill, having your house lit up like Christmas multiple nights in a row can also tip off potential home invaders that you’re out of town. A good idea would be to invest in a couple of light switch timers to place throughout your home. This will allow different lights to go on and off at different times, creating the illusion that someone is home and thus discouraging any would-be criminals.
Have any additional tips for keeping your home safe while on vacation? Leave them in the comments!