Packing your bag and reserving your hotel room aren’t the only things you must do before you take off for a vacation. You should also prepare your home to lessen the risk of burglary or accident while you are away. A house sitter can be the ultimate defense against these risks, but if you can’t afford to hire someone to live in your home while you’re gone, try these easy and cheap prep tips instead.
Prepare in case of a robbery: No matter how many safety measures you take, you could still be burglarized. Prepare for the worst by making a list of all of your possessions. If you have a video recording device or can borrow one, take a video inventory. Save the video in a safe place such as a safe deposit box. If you have large items, etch your driver’s license number into them. It will make them much easier to identify if they end up at a local pawn shop. Nobody expects to be a victim of crime, but it does occur. By taking a moment to safeguard your house you can greatly reduce your chances of being a victim or make it easier to recover from a robbery.
Timed lights: Set your lights up on an automatic timer so that they go on and off at specified times of the day. Some of these gadgets even allow you to set the activity to randomly light the inside of your home. This will make it look as though there is someone home, even though there isn’t.
Check your smoke detectors: Before leaving, check your smoke detectors to make sure the batteries and units are still functional. If it’s close to your designated time to change the batteries, go ahead and change them before you leave.
Stop mail and newspaper delivery: A few days worth of mail in the mailbox and a pile of newspapers by the front door are sure signs that you aren’t home—and create the closest thing to an engraved invitation a would-be burglar could ask for. Talk to your post office about having your mail held while you are away and call your newspaper to ask for delivery to be stopped. You may even ask about having the papers you miss donated to your local school or library.
Turn everything off: Go through your home before you leave and turn everything off. Double check automated items like coffee makers to ensure that they don’t start their normal daily routines unattended.
Lock windows and doors: Make sure all your windows and exterior doors are locked before you leave. Don’t take for granted that they are; complete a physical check before you go.
Shut off the water valve in winter: Because there is a risk of frozen pipes bursting, make sure to turn off your water valve when you go away for a winter vacation. Even if you aren’t quite into the snowy months, you might want to shut off the water against an unexpected cold snap.
Install an alarm system: Consider installing an alarm system before you go on vacation. It doesn’t have to be a monitored system, but simply a few door and window alarms from your local home improvement store. If you do this, you may want to notify a neighbor and give them the name and phone number of a relative who has access to your home. That way, if the alarm goes off, a relative can be notified to check out your house, call the police and shut off the alarm when danger has passed.
Sometimes, it’s the little steps that count the most in prepping your home before you go away. Using these tips can make the difference between coming back to a catastrophe or to an intact home after a restful vacation.
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