Use This Handy Reminder So You Don’t Forget Anything
Maximize Security with Effective Home Preparation
“Maybe the best part of going away for a vacation–coming home again.”
We’re coming up to that time of year when we once again will hit the roads and airways after having fun all summer with great experiences and creating wonderful memories. We call it pre-holiday travel, but soon it will be the granddaddy of them all, Holiday Travel.
Planning a trip involves more than just booking tickets and packing your bags. It’s essential to take certain steps to ensure the safety and security of your home while you’re away. I can assure you the bad guys are out there, and they’re watching for tell-tale signs that you’re not home. Here are 14 practical tips on how to prepare your home before traveling, so you can enjoy your journey worry-free.
INFORM A TRUSTED NEIGHBOR. A very smart move is to inform a trusted neighbor about your travel plans. They key word here is “trusted.” They can keep an eye on your property, collect your mail and driveway deliveries such as newspapers and flyers, and even park their car in your driveway to make it appear as if someone is at home. Be sure to give them your contact information in case of emergencies.
LOCK ALL DOORS AND WINDOWS. Double check that all doors, windows and any other entry points are securely locked. This includes gates, garage doors and sheds. Don’t forget to secure sliding doors with a sturdy rod or bar making them more resistant to forced entry. Be sure to set your home alarm.
SET TIMERS FOR LIGHTS AND ELECTRONICS SO YOUR HOME APPEARS OCCUPIED. If you don’t already have them, invest in timers for your lights and other electronics to create the illusion that someone is at home. Set them to turn on and off at different times during the day and night.
UNPLUG APPLIANCES AND ELECTRONICS. Help reduce the risk of electrical fire or power surges by unplugging non-essential appliances and electronics while you’re away. This includes televisions, computers, kitchen appliances and chargers. Not only will this save you money but will provide peace of mind.
PREP YOUR FRIDGE. If you’re planning an extended trip, say several weeks or more, it is always wise to remove perishable items from your refrigerator, such as milk, vegetables, and condiments. You don’t want these rotting and smelling up your refrigerator, only to come home to an unpleasant surprise.
SECURE VALUABLES AND IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS. Consider storing your valuable belongings and important documents in a safe or lockable drawer. You might even wish to obtain a safe deposit box at your local banking facility. Include such items as jewelry, financial records, and any other items of high value. This extra precaution will protect your possessions in case of a break-in.
SUSPEND DELIVERIES AND SERVICES. You’ll want to make sure your mail is taken care of. It’s always wise to place a “hold delivery” for your mail. Your post office will be more than happy to hold your mail and deliver it once you have returned home. Mail that piles up is a dead give-away no one is at home which could put your house at risk for theft. The mail could also be stolen in your absence. If you have any in-home services such as cleaning or exterminators, be sure to notify them of a change in your schedule, and you’re tied up with personal matters. Unless they are super trustworthy, don’t tell them you’re leaving on a trip. Just reschedule once you return.
NOTIFY YOUR SECURITY PROVIDER. If you have a security system in place, inform your provider about your travel plans. Provide them with an emergency contact and let them know the details of your departure and arrival back home. They can then monitor your property more closely and respond promptly in case of any security breaches.
ADJUST THE THERMOSTAT. Save energy and prevent any potential issues by adjusting your thermostat before leaving, and depending on your local climate, you might even wish to turn off your AC/furnace entirely. We can do that living here in southern California, however, if you live in a cold climate, turning off your heating system would not be advisable due to the potential for frozen water pipes.
SET THE WATER HEATER TO VACATION MODE. We always do this, even if we’re gone for only a week or so. It makes sense to conserve energy whenever possible. Don’t forget to reset it upon your return.
TEST THE SPRINKLER & WATERING SYSTEM. Here in southern California we rely heavily on our sprinkler and watering systems, almost entirely throughout the year. As we enter cooler temperatures, we always set our sprinkler to every other day, and check to make sure the drip systems are functioning on schedule for your patio and garden plants. Depending on your local climate, you will need to adjust sprinkler times, turn off your watering systems and drain the pipes so they don’t freeze causing severe damage. You might have to do the same inside, that is turn off your main water supply, drain the faucets and flush the toilets.
CLEAN YOUR HOME. What did you say??? Yes, coming home to a clean home is always a more pleasant experience than one left in disarray. Several hints: clean out your dishwasher and leave the door open so the moisture dissipates; remove all indoor trash; run the garbage disposal with detergent and vinegar to remove any potential odors; empty your washer and dryer and make certain the dials or programs are turned to off; and wipe down all your countertops and clean the oven and stove to remove any unwanted food debris.
PROTECT YOUR VEHICLE—HIDE THE KEYS. Lock your car and hide the keys or take them with you. For extended periods of absence, purchase a “trickle charger” and hook your car battery up to it for constant charging. We use one all the time because the car computers are constantly running in the background and will drain the battery if left unattended. You might want to change the oil to avoid any contaminants from old oil damaging your engine.
When we lived in the desert, during the hot months I would cut carpet pieces into 12” x 12” squares, place them on the garage floor, then drive the car onto them so the tires were resting on the carpet. The reason: the tires would stick to the pavement after prolonged periods of time when it was really hot. If your garage floor was treated or painted, when you drove off the tires would peel the paint. Definitely not a good thing. No one mentioned that when we bought our home, we had to figure it out on our own.
IS YOUR HOME INSURANCE UP-TO-DATE. Make certain your coverage is up-to-date and all premiums have been paid and accounted for. This will give you peace of mind knowing you’re protected in case of any unfortunate events.
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I’m certainly not insinuating that you don’t already do all these things before you take to the road or airways, rather this is a reminder of their importance. All of the above depends entirely on the length of your travels, so use your best judgement on what to do.
My BoomerGuy and I are big, big believers in following these helpful hints on safeguarding our home. It’s our biggest investment to be sure. We have our own businesses and that gives us the luxury of traveling when we want. There are times when we’re gone for more than a month but mostly a week or two, and it does give us peace of mind to have all these boxes checked off before we depart.
I am your Number One BoomerGal, Connie, wishing you all the enjoyment possible with your upcoming travel plans. Follow these simple tips and you will have a more than memorable journey and return home to how you left it. It’s all about achieving Your Ultimate Lifestyle. Bon Voyage.
Editorial research contributed by Geoff Ullrich, Germania Insurance.