One of the best parts about working a full-time job is the vacation time you’ll most likely receive every year. For millions of homeowners throughout the country, going on holiday is a rite of passage that comes around annually, and trips can range anywhere from a week to a full month or more. Of course, in this time away from home, it’s vital that you take steps to ensure your home’s safety. Not only from crooks and thieves, mind you, but also from weather and potential water damage.
There’s probably a lot you haven’t considered when going on vacation. Unfortunately, true home protection extends well past locking the door and turning your lights off. You need to guard against possible intruders, potential flooding, electrical fires, and more. So before you head out on your next holiday, make sure your home is fully protected.
Tips For Keeping a Secure Home While Away
1: Ask For Some Help
One of the first things you should do when travelling is to ask a friend or a neighbor for some help. If you have animals, such as pet dogs or cats, allowing friends or neighbors to feed them is a great alternative to crating them up and keeping them somewhere unfamiliar. This also allows your trusted friends to keep an eye on the home. If they see anything off, they can contact the appropriate authorities. Having them stop by every other evening or so also gives the appearance as if someone is still living there. And as all statistics show, homes are burglarized far less frequently when someone is home.
2: Remember to Lock Up
It may seem like a trite, meaningless tip to remind you to lock up. After all, most people lock the door when they’re going to work or the grocery store. Why wouldn’t they lock up when actually travelling for a week or more? Though you would be shocked to learn how many people actually leave their windows unlocked, their basement doors open, and their garage doors unlocked. The front and back doors are typically always locked, but even a second-story window should be secured before you travel. A persistent thief has no problem whatsoever scaling up a few meters to enter into the home. And with the way laws are written, it’s actually a lesser crime if they enter a home that’s unlocked.
3: Keep Your Trip Private
With Twitter, Instagram and Facebook big today, a lot of homeowners out there absolutely love broadcasting their lives to the world. “OMG I just had my baby! Look at him!” “Can you believe what my dog can do?” et cetera. At some point, things always get a little too private. “My wife and I are leaving tomorrow for our big month-long holiday, and we can’t wait!” That may seem like an innocuous message; a boast to your friends and family about your travel plans. To potential crooks, however, it’s an open invitation. You’re not going to be home, and now they know it. Keep those types of details as private as possible.
4: Turn Off Supply Lines and Prepare for Weather
The previous tips were all about potential intruders, but there’s another big threat to your home. If you have a leaking pipe that you’re unaware of, a crack in your basement’s foundations, or any other type of weakness in the home, it can easily be exploited by water.
You might end up coming home to a flooded basement or other types of horrific water damage that needs to be handled by professionals. Take steps to prevent this type of damage by ensuring your pipes are functioning properly and that your home is protected against harsh and heavy weather.
5: Keep Your Home the Same Way
There are typically two schools of thought when it comes to prepping a home’s appearance while you’re on vacation. The first comes by way of homeowners who think it’s a good idea to make the home look occupied while away. They’ll leave lights on, leave the windows open (treatments), etc., in hopes of deterring intruders. The second comes by way of homeowners who like to seal everything up tight as a drum, drawing the curtains closed and making things as dark as a dungeon. Which one is preferable for your home? The truth is that you shouldn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Other than locking up and shutting things down, the aesthetics of your home should appear the same while you’re away.
6: No Spare Keys or Secret Entrances
That little spare key hiding under the rock is cute and useful enough while you’re only gone a few hours every day. And that window that will pry open with a little elbow grease isn’t a big threat since you’re home most of the time. But while you’re away, these things need to be cleaned up to ensure that no one can enter into the home easily. Remove that spare hidden key (which is a bad idea to begin with) and make sure you don’t have any “secret” entrances to the home that may be exploited while you’re gone.
7: Cancel Mail/Subscriptions
There’s nothing like a yard full of newspapers and a box full of mail to signal to passersby that you haven’t been home in a while. Not every intruder wants to enter the home to steal things, which is something you need to realize. Teenagers and vagrants often prowl around looking for properties in which they can occupy. Nothing says “Enter me” like a home with half a dozen papers in the yard and a box that’s overflowing with mail. Have your mail and any subscriptions put on hold while you’re travelling.
8: Keep a Lawn Service on Retainer
Since most people are going to take their holiday in the summer months, this means the grass and weeds are going to keep growing while you’re away. You can have friends come over, the mail cancelled, an open blind, etc., and still some potential intruders will realize that nobody’s home by the amount of greenery that continues to grow around your property.
Contact a lawn service, pay them in advance, and have them trim things up for you, if you’re going to be gone for two weeks or more. This will definitely lead people to believe that you’re home. Plus it keeps the council from getting peeved at your lawn-care habits, which could save you a steep tax.
Thousands of homeowners return to damaged and burglarized homes every year, and most of these instances could have been completely prevented by taking the slightest bit of initiative. If you’re willing to implement a few steps before travelling, you can greatly reduce your risks of suffering from any type of damage, be it from water or intruder, while away on holiday.