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When you take a much-needed vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is a disaster robbing you of house and home while you’re away. But thieves and disasters honor no PTO requests.How can you keep your home safe while you’re away at a work conference or backpacking through Europe? It takes a bit of planning, but you can decrease your chances of losing all you own. Here’s what to do.
1. Phone a Friend
When you go away, mail piles up on your front porch or in your mailbox. If you subscribe to a newspaper, it remains lying in the driveway. Even if you wait to post your vacation pics on social media until you return home, these items lay out the welcome mat for those looking to break and enter.You could hire a house sitter, but if you have a friendly neighbor, ask if they’d pick up your mail while you’re away. Of course, offer to return the favor when it’s their turn to go on holiday. And call your paper and ask them to halt delivery. If you have no friendly neighbors and have a smallish budget, you can have the post office temporarily hold your mail for a nominal fee.
2. Unplug All Devices
You don’t want to risk a fire while you’re away. If you have pets, this can mean losing beloved companions. If you lack adequate insurance coverage, you could lose everything you own. Before you leave, unplug all electrical devices. This will help avoid fires started by faulty outlets and wiring problems you may remain unaware of. Obviously, you’ll need to leave some, like refrigerators and deep freezers plugged in, but if possible, strive to eat as much as you can before departure, so you don’t lose $100’s in food if the power goes out while you’re away.
3. Shut Off the Water
If you live in a cold climate, you risk your pipes freezing and bursting if you turn off the heat and a snap hits. Locate your water shutoffs where pipes enter the house — even a small leak can cause pipes to burst — and keep the thermostat turned to at least 55 degrees indoors.
4. Clear Bushes and Debris
If you have trees overgrowing your roof, a storm could send a branch crashing through it. If you have bushes hiding front windows, a thief could gain access under cover of darkness with no witnesses. Before leaving, trim everything away from windows to allow neighbors to witness any unsavory activity around your property. They may not stop a break-in but can help identify the culprit. Hire a tree company to trim overhanging branches.
5. Check Your Garage Door
Did you know freezing temperatures can impact the battery life, tire pressure and spark plugs in your vehicle? Keeping your car outdoors while away makes it a target for burglars, and exposes it to the elements. Even your paint oxidizes faster when exposed. Park your car in the garage when you leave and test your automatic garage door opener. If you’ve given out your keypad combo to others like contractors in the past, change it before you depart.
6. Hide Valuables Away From Home
Do you have an heirloom diamond handed down through generations? Consider transporting such valuables to a safe deposit box at a local bank prior to departure. These cost little and could save you a fortune if you suffer a break-in.
7. Un-Hide Your Spare Key
If you keep a spare key under a rock or in a garden pot, make sure to take it with you when you go. If you’re hiring a pet or house sitter, give them the key after conducting a background check and request it back when you return. You can also purchase an inexpensive lockbox for an outdoor key and provide the combination only to authorized individuals.
8. Put Up Security Signs
Thieves look for easy targets. They don’t want to get caught. If a criminal sees one home that reads, “Protected by a home security system,” and one without such signage, which property do you think they’ll target? Order things online which haven’t arrived before you depart? You can buy porch security cameras for less than $50. These connect to your cellphone, and you can monitor your delivery and call a responsible party to take them in when they arrive. If nothing else, if someone does swipe your items, you have valuable evidence to provide police.
Keep Your Home Safe While Away
It’s difficult to fully relax on vacation if you haven’t taken precautions to protect your property from the worst in your absence. By following the tips above, you can get some much-needed R&R while out of town.
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