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With summer fast approaching, you might already have vacation on your mind...so I wanted to share with you on this little video clip my favorite safety tips. In fact, I have multiple critical steps to prepare your home for safe keeping while you're away, to keep your nest safe and secure.
This is exactly what I did to prepare my home while I'm on vacation:
The best way to keep your home safe in your absence is to make it appear you are home, leaving absolutely no clue you're actually away. Light, time and noise are your greatest weapons to accomplish this. Follow these tips to ready your home and keep it safe:
- Ask someone you know and trust to keep an eye on your house.
For short trips, ask one of your neighbors to pick up your mail and your newspaper. If you are going to be gone longer, however, be sure to stop by the post office and have your home mail delivery stopped until you return.
Be sure to provide neighbors, friends and family members with emergency phone numbers so you can be reached quickly. It's a good idea to leave a spare house key with a relative or neighbor as well.
- At least a couple of weeks before you leave for vacation, decide what to do about your pets. You may want to have a friend or neighbor stop by each day to provide food, water and exercise. Or you may want to hire a professional pet sitting service or take the pets to a reputable kennel. This decision should be made well in advance so that proper arrangements can be made.
- Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to provide sound and illuminate the inside of your home.
- If you still have a home phone, change the setting on your answering machine so it picks up on the first or second ring—or just turn down the ringer. A constantly ringing phone is also a good sign no one is home.
- For long absences, you may want to turn off the main water valve. This will help avoid problems with frozen pipes in winter and leaking pipes in the warmer months as well as other plumbing issues.
- Keep shades up and blinds and curtains open to make it appear you're home.
- Keep bushes and shrubs near your home's entrance and walkway well trimmed. This will eliminate hiding spots for burglars.
- Keep the outside of your home well lit. Burglars won't go where they can be seen.
- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway, occasionally moving his or her car indicate your coming and going.
- Leave the air conditioner on. A silent compressor on a hot day is a good indication you aren't home.
- Have the lawn mowed my a friend or lawn service if you are away longer than a week in the warmer months.
- This one is tough for those addicted to Facebook but posting to Facebook where you are at all times you are not only sharing this with your 'friends'. Those posts and photos allow others to find out when you are away and where you are. This isn't as concerning when you are local as you could post a comment or photo as you are ON your way home or just arrived but when your, say, at Disney World, those with ill plans regarding your trip away from home.
- Be sure to turn down the temperature on the hot water heater and unplug televisions and other appliances. These appliances will be drawing electricity whether they are on or not. Unplugging them will help lower your electric bill.
- Turn your thermostats down (or up) before you leave. There is no reason to spend money heating or cooling the home when you are not there.
- Don't forget about the plants. If you are having a friend or pet sitter care for your pets, ask them to take care of your plants as well. Simply soaking the plants with water before you leave is not enough. A better idea is to create a self watering system if you cannot have someone care for the plants. For small plants, make a self watering system by filling a plastic container with pebbles. Then fill the bottom of the container with water. This allows the plants to slowly absorb the moisture they need, without the danger of their roots becoming waterlogged. Larger plants can be mulched with a damp towel or newspaper to prevent the loss of moisture.
- When the day to leave for vacation finally arrives, try not to make that departure too obvious to those passing by. If you have a garage, be sure to pack the car with the garage door closed. If you do not have a garage, you may want to pack a couple of items a day in order to avoid broadcasting to the world that your home will be unoccupied.
- This last tip isn't a security measure for your house but for your credit (you know I always care about that as well) as you need to keep tight check over your credit in order to purchase or refinance your home!
With all the excitement of the upcoming trip we sometimes get carried away, plan only for the trip and security of our home for while we are away and leave for our stress-free trip. But wait!! You suddenly realize the day before you return the date! You've missed your mortgage payment, car payment, credit card, and utility due dates by a week or more! This happens more than I'd like to hear and the credit company doesn't accept this as a viable hardship excuse. :-) So ensure you plan ahead. Go on and sit down to make all the payments needed to be made in advance before your trip and all those due up till a few days after your return for good measure to ensure you don't get tied up with the return home and forget this very important task to protect your credit rating!
As you can see, there is a lot to think about before you jump in the car or on a plane for vacation. Use this checklist as a way of bringing peace of mind to you and your family. Enjoy your vacations without worrying about the safety of your home while you're away.