Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away on Vacation This Summer
Think of summer and many images come to mind: jumping into a refreshing pool, laughing with friends and family at a backyard barbecue, and relaxing in the shade on a warm afternoon. To many people, summer is also time for vacation! After all, school’s out, the weather is perfect, and there’s a laid-back vibe in the air. Whether a weekend getaway or a luxury journey abroad, summer is the time for traveling.
But once your reservations are made and your bags are packed, it’s also important to make sure your home is secure. Keeping your home safe while you’re away not only gives you peace of mind, it also ensures you have less to worry about when you return home. Thwarting thieves, preventing mishaps such as flood damage, and caring for pets and plants are all key considerations when planning a vacation. Following are some suggestions.
It’s no coincidence that the busiest months for travel — June, July and August — also see a rise in home burglaries. Giving the impression that someone is home is the best way to deter potential thieves. One solution is to hire a house sitter, but if that isn’t feasible, take a few steps to make your house look occupied. These include the following:
- Schedule USPS mail hold.
- Ask a neighbor or friend to roll out your trash cans.
- Ask a neighbor to park in the driveway so it looks like someone’s home.
- Have a neighbor pick up any packages that may be arriving while you’re gone.
- Hire someone to mow your lawn and trim your hedges if you plan to be gone more than a week.
- If you usually keep your curtains or blinds open, keep them this way. Closing them sends the signal that you may be away.
It is also recommended that you take advantage of smart devices that allow you to turn lights and other devices (such as the television) on and off via your smartphone. They can also be automated, although having them turn on and off at random times is more realistic. If you don’t have one already, consider installing a video doorbell or an alarm system.
If you have a key hidden under a mat, flower pot or elsewhere outside, consider giving it to a trusted friend or neighbor instead. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of break-ins aren’t forced entry; assailants typically enter through unlocked doors or windows so make sure those are secure before you hit the road. Ensuring your home is well-lit also helps deter thieves. While it isn’t foolproof (many home burglaries occur during the day while owners are at work), it can be one additional safety measure.
It’s also wise to avoid posting about your trip on social media. Announcing that you’re on vacation announces that your belongings are ripe for the taking. Even if your accounts are set to private, you never know who may have access to them, so it’s best to embrace #latergram and post vacay pics after you return. Also, try not to talk about your trip with friends when out in public. A friendly chat in a coffee shop may seem innocent enough, but you never know who’s eavesdropping.
In addition to protecting your home from burglars while you’re on vacation, it’s also important to protect it from other mishaps. If you’ll be away for an extended period — more than two weeks — consider putting your water heater on “vacation” mode to conserve energy. Turn down your thermostat and consider programming it to come on the day before you arrive home so your home is at a comfortable temperature when you return. Turn off water valves to sinks, toilets, the dishwasher, and washing machine in case of a leak, which can cause thousands in damages if undetected.
Other tips include the following:
- Shut down computers.
- Run the garbage disposal.
- Unplug small electronics and appliances.
- Empty all trash cans to avoid ant infestations.
- Empty the refrigerator of any foods that will spoil.
If you’re traveling without your pet this summer, it can be hard to say goodbye. For longer trips, finding a place for your pet to stay while you’re away is the best option, as is hiring a pet sitter to come care for your pet. Rover.com is a good site to find spots to board your pet. You can also find house sitting, drop-in care and dog walking.
For shorter trips, it may be possible to leave your pet on its own for a night or two. This, of course, depends on your pet. Dogs tend to be more social, and may not be well suited to being left alone, even for a night. Cats need less human interaction, as do birds and reptiles. Just be sure to leave plenty of food and water out and, if possible, have a friend or neighbor check on them.
Pets aren’t the only things that need care while you’re away on vacation. Your houseplants also need some attention! Consider having a house sitter care for your plants if possible, or have a friend or neighbor check on them every few days. Otherwise, following are some tips:
- Consider grouping plants together.
- Keep plants out of direct sun to conserve water.
- Avoid placing them directly beneath air conditioning vents.
- Place them in a bathtub or other small space with less air flow.
- Look into self-watering devices for thirsty plants, or make your own.
With a bit of planning and foresight, it’s possible to take an enjoyable vacation this summer without worrying about what’s going on at home. By taking a few precautions, you can leave your cares behind and return knowing your home has been safe and secure while you were away.