Vacation is that time of year you happily anticipate. The opportunity to get away from it all and just unwind. You would never imagine arriving back home to find something is very wrong. A break-in, a broken pipe or worse!
Although summertime is considered the major vacation season for most, no matter what time of year you get away, you should take these important steps to protect your home.
1. Install a security system. Homes without a professionally monitored security system are 300 times more likely to be burglarized according to the FBI. Since most break-ins involve the use of force, a home security system can be a useful deterrent by alerting the authorities in the event of a trigger.
2. Turn off the water. During the summer, turn off the main shut-off valve if no one will be home. This keeps toilets from overflowing, pipes from leaking or outside spigots from being used and left running. During the winter, you can shut off the water but be careful how much you lower the temperature in the house so the pipes don’t freeze. The Institute for Business and Home Safety recommends draining the pipes before leaving for an extended period of time.
3. Hold the mail. It’s a small thing, but an important tipoff to would-be burglars. Stop your mail and newspaper or if you have a trusted neighbor, have them pick it up for you.
4. Give the illusion someone is home. Consider installing a motion sensing light outside of your home. In addition to putting various interior lamps on timers, you can also put one on your television to create the typical flickering lights of a family at home. If you are away for over a week, arrange to have your lawn mowed or snow removed in case of a storm. Avoid posting on social media that you will be away from home.
5. Adjust the thermostat. During the summer this will save you some money on utilities, but don’t set it back so far that the plants wilt from the heat. In the winter, be careful not to set it too low. The American Red Cross recommends not setting the thermostat below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to prevent freezing, and to maintain the same temperature both day and night.
6. Unplug high-value electronics. Even if your high-end electronics are plugged into a surge protector, it’s still wise to unplug them in case a severe storm hits. Wide screen televisions, computers, sound systems, as well as small appliances like toasters and coffee makers can still be damaged if a bolt of lightning strikes nearby or there is a power surge.
7. Disconnect your garage door. Tech savvy thieves have been known to hack into garage door opener codes, and some openers (depending on the brand) can be opened with a universal remote.
8. Pick up that hidden key. Criminals will always look for that hidden key, and they will find it! Give that spare key to a family member, friend or trusted neighbor.
By adding a little pre-trip planning for your home, you can spend more time enjoying that hard-earned vacation and less time worrying.