Tips For Your Home Before You Go On Vacation!
A vacation away from home is an event that almost everyone looks forward to. A week in the mountains or some island paradise can provide a great change of pace and is often just what is needed to recharge one’s batteries from the day-to-day stress of life.
There’s one thing that is for sure — the job you left behind will be there to greet you upon your return (like it or not). And so will your home and all of your personal belongings – or will they? Sadly, being away from home for an extended period can be an invitation to disaster. A vacant home is a prime target for a burglar to help himself to all of your valued possessions. A burglar isn’t the only threat that confronts your home while you are away. Many people return from vacation to find a home flooded from a burst pipe, or worse, burner from a faulty appliance.
Fortunately, with a bit of preventative planning, you can rest easy during your vacation knowing that your home sweet home will be as you left it. What’s more, if you play your cards right, you should be able to save a few bucks while away from home. Allow us to explain.
There are some “vacation basics” that most of us are aware of, but they deserve to be reviewed now and again. First, don’t make your absence obvious. Don’t allow mail or newspapers to pile up on the front porch. And by all means don’t leave the garbage cans in the street for a week.
Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your place while you are away. The neighbor can gather the mail and newspapers in anticipation of your return. Also, have a neighbor put out the trash on the appointed day and retrieve the cans promptly. If a friend or neighbor is not available to lend a hand while you are away, contact your local post office and newspaper to request that delivery be suspended until your return. Garbage collection should be skipped for the week.
One proven means of discouraging a prowler is by making your home look like it is occupied. This can be accomplished by placing one or more lamps or lights on timers which turn on and off at various times throughout the night. It also helps to have ample lighting at all entry point around the house such as the front porch, garage and rear patio door. Exterior lighting operated by motion sensors, timers or photoelectric switches can help keep your utility bill down. In addition, consider plugging a radio into a timer that is programmed to turn on and off at various times throughout the day and evening.
If your home has an alarm system, be sure to activate it before you leave. Also, if the system is monitored, advise the monitoring company of your absence to ensure that they will immediately summon the police should the alarm be breached. If the alarm system is not monitored, you may want to ask a neighbor to immediately call the police if the alarm should sound.
Prior to going out the door for the last time, take one final walk throughout the house to make sure that all windows and doors are securely latched and locked. Swinging doors should be double bolted and sliding windows and doors should have a secondary latch. A wooden dowel placed in the window track can prevent most sliding windows from being opened.
Be sure to ask your neighbors to keep their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary. Never ask a friend or neighbor to put themselves in harms way. If they should sense that something is wrong they should immediately call the police rather than attempting to investigate the problem on their own.
A prowler isn’t the only thing to be wary of when preparing for a vacation. A broken water pipe or a faulty appliance can wreak more havoc than a burglar most burglars could ever accomplish. A broken water pipe can do tens of thousands of dollars in damage by flooding the crawl space, basement and rooms of the home. By the same token, the spark from a faulty appliance can trigger a house fire that can consume much of your home before fire fighters have been made aware of the disaster-in-progress.
One of the most effective means of preventing a flood is by turning off the main water source to the home. However, this is often not practical as this prevents the landscape irrigation system from keeping the yard watered. If this is the case, turning off valves at all of the fixtures can significantly diminish the prospect of a flood.
Unlike the water system, the electricity must remain on to power the refrigerator, freezer, alarm, irrigation system and security lighting. However, heating and air conditioning systems can be turned off to save money and, more importantly, to prevent a potential fire. Small appliances such as a toaster, mixer, food processor, stereo and television should be unplugged while you are away. And don’t forget to unplug the motor for the garage door opener. This is further protection against unauthorized or accidental opening.
Devices that use natural gas or propane can be dangerous when left unattended for extended periods of time. Thus, gas appliances such as a water heater, furnace or oven should be shut off by simply turning the gas off at the meter or supply tank. Most local utility companies will come out to turn the gas back on and relight pilots when you return.
Finally, don’t forget to have someone care for your precious pets and houseplants. If a friend or neighbor isn’t available to care for your pets while you are away, your best bet is to board them to ensure safety and proper care.
Houseplants can be placed in a central location such as a bathtub or shower, which will make watering easier for a friend or neighbor and ensure that one or more isn’t overlooked.
Now, are you really sure that you want to go on vacation after all?