Vacation Mode: Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe While You're Away
Let's face it — with a vacation coming up on your schedule, it's hard to think about anything else. However, you do need to take a few steps to ensure your home is properly protected while you're gone. There would be nothing worse than feeling that post-getaway high, returning to your hometown and realizing something has happened to your abode, after all. So, enact these six preventative measures and keep the good vibes going as long as possible:
1. Bring in a Reinforcement
You're not in town to take care of your home, but maybe one of your friends or family members will be there. Ask one of them to look after your place while you're gone — they can fulfill that duty in a multitude of ways.
The most full-service option would be to have them house-sit. Stock the fridge and let them have free reign while you're gone. That way, they'll be able to turn on the lights, lock up, collect the mail, etc. And their mere presence is a deterrent to burglars — they've said so themselves.
Of course, you could just have your trusted house-sitter stop by once a day to pick up the mail and newspaper, water your plants, take out the trash, and look over the place to make sure it's secure. Depending on the security of your building or neighborhood, that could be more than enough reassurance while you're gone.
2. Make It Appear That You're Home
To that end, if you're not going to have an in-home house-sitter, you'll want to invest in a few high-tech accessories that can make it look like you're there even when you're not. For instance, you can control your lights, TV, radio and more from your smartphone, so long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. In other words, you can make it look and sound like someone's home with the touch of a button.
Before you go, clean the exterior of your home, too. Shovel snow, rake leaves and weed the garden — otherwise, it'll appear as though you aren't in and haven't been for some time. That's not a good vibe to be giving off.
Finally, rather than driving and parking at the airport, hitch a ride on the way to your next vacation. That way, you can leave your vehicle at home, another detail that will make intruders think twice.
3. Secure the Garage
Now that you're leaving your car parked at home, make sure the garage itself is up for protecting your vehicle, as well as any other valuables contained within it. Obviously, you will shut the garage door, but you might want to consider upgrading to an insulated version of what you have now. Without it, your property could be damaged by cold weather — especially if you're out of town and it sits in the cold for days or weeks. On the other hand, an insulated garage door will boost your car's battery life, protect spark plugs and keep tires plump, among other benefits.
4. Unplug Electronics
Another potential danger to your home is fire. We assume you regularly test your smoke alarms and that you have a system that automatically calls emergency services when a blaze is detected. If not, that's the first order of business before you go jet-setting around the globe.
Still,even with that safety net, a short-lived blaze can still cause damage — the average cost of a fire in a home sans sprinkler system is more than $45,000. So, further prevent flames from forming by unplugging all your electronic devices before you go. As a bonus, you'll lower your energy bill by doing this, too.
5. Un-Hide the Key
You probably have a spare key hidden somewhere around your house's exterior to help you through a forgetful moment. Once you're gone, though, you don't want someone untrustworthy to find it — and career criminals know just where to look for spares. So, bring the fake rock inside, or remove keys hidden under the mat, in the mailbox, etc. If you want someone to have access to the key in case of an emergency, then hand over a set to a trusted neighbor or friend.
6. Keep Trip Plans Private
Finally, you know how it feels to be heading into vacation — you're so excited, you want to shout your plans from the rooftops. But sharing your itinerary online is a mistake, no matter how much you think you trust your followers. It's easy to slip up, too — be sure you've turned off automatic location tagging so that you're not inadvertently giving yourself away, either. Once your trip is over, post away and let the world see all of your amazing photos. For the sake of your home's security, though, mum's the word for now.
With these six steps enacted, you can head off without a care in the world — your home is safe, and you're free from the real world for a few days. And that sense of calm is exactly what a vacation is all about.