When you leave your home, whether for a quick weekend getaway or a vacation extravaganza, in addition to making sure to bring along the best travel safety products for your family, you’ll want to take some basic safety precautions to keep your house and belongings as safe as you can. This makes most of us think about burglarproofing, but preparations extend beyond locking your doors or setting timers for your lights.
Here are a few things I always do before leaving my home for an extended period. To me, that’s 24+ hours. What does extended mean to you? What’s the threshold that propels you from your normal locking-up routine to more detailed preparations?
1. Hold Your Mail
A huge pile of mail on the front doorstep, or envelopes pouring out your mail slot is an instant tip-off that no one’s home. If you’ll be gone for more than a few days, go to the post office to place a hold on your mail. Put a hold on your daily paper, too. If you don’t have the time or inclination, ask a trusted neighbor to collect the goods daily.
2. Create the Illusion of Someone Home
Beyond setting your lights on a timer, you can also set the television and radio on a timer to create the typical noise and flickering lights of an average family home at night. But wait, that’s not all! Leave a car in the driveway. Arrange for someone to mow at least once a week (an unruly lawn is as bad as a pile of mail). During the winter, arrange for snow removal in case of a storm (neighborhood kids are great for this, if you get their parents’ word that they’ll remember). If you normally leave toys outside, or keep a hose unrolled, or do anything that shows signs of a home being lived in, don’t tidy up too much before you leave.
3. Mum’s the Word
Never, ever announce your departure or vacation dates on social networks. Sharing settings are not foolproof and with new security updates it’s always hard to tell what’s public and what’s private. Stay on the safe side, and don’t mention your trip – until you’re back, with tales to tell and photos to upload!
4. Trust a Friend
Give your vacation contact info and a spare key to at least one friend or neighbor. That way, they’ll know how to contact you in case of emergency.
5. Advertise Your Security
Especially when you’re away, it can be a great idea to advertise your security measures. If you’re worried that alarm company signs will clue thieves in to how to break in, buy signs from a different company. Install fake security cameras (the kind that look authentic). Do whatever it takes to get across the message, “This is not the home you are looking for.”
Unplug all unnecessary appliances (except those on timers, of course) to protect your home from an electrical fire or power surge. This goes for the big stuff, like TVs, but also for your toaster, your coffee maker, and other small appliances.
7. Hide the Hide-a-Key
It’s impossible to forget your key if you’re not even home, so go ahead and take any hidden spare keys out of commission. Just don’t forget to re-hide them when you return!
8. Keep Your Cool
Turn down (or up) the thermostat to save on electricity while you’re gone. In the winter, set the heat to about 55° – warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing, but cool enough to save – and during the summer, set your air-conditioning to 85°. You can also lower the temperature on your water heater.
9. Safe-Keep Your Valuables
Lock up jewelry, the deed to your home, wills, and any other valuables or sensitive documents in a fire-proof safe.
10. Alert Your Alarm Company
Call your home security company to let them know you’ll be away. Make sure all of the door and window alarms are set and working when you leave.
What other precautions do you take before leaving on vacation?
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