When it comes to leaving your home to go on vacation, most advice revolves around home alarm systems, security cameras, and putting your lights on a timer. It’s not bad advice, but the truth is, you don’t have to have fancy technology in order to keep your home safe while you’re away.
Here are a few quick, easy, and low-tech things you can do to make sure your home is exactly how you left it when you come back from a long vacation.
The last thing you want to do is come home to a flooded house and pay water damage restoration experts a bunch of money to clean up the mess. Prevent potential leaks by turning off the main water supply to your home.
That means finding the water shutoff valve. It's located where the main water line enters the home, but exactly where it is located can vary. Many times you'll find it in a basement, cellar, or crawlspace, but it's also possible that the shutoff valve is located outside or even buried near the street.
Just make sure you run all the taps until they are empty after you locate and turn off the valve. You don’t want to turn off the main water line and return after your vacation to discover that your pipes leaked anyway!
Mail can be a dead giveaway that someone isn’t home when it piles up in a mailbox or the same cardboard box has been sitting on the front step for days. You can make it look like you’re home by making sure you figure out your mail situation.
There are multiple ways to do this. You could ask a friend, a family member, or a neighbor to pick up your mail for you every day. Give them a key and they can check things out inside your home before dropping off your mail.
If you’re going on an extended vacation, you may want to consider putting a hold on your mail so it isn’t delivered at all while you’re gone.
You’ll want to make sure you have a plan for packages too. Avoid placing orders a few weeks before you plan to go on vacation. If you have a package arriving, keep an eye on its delivery date so you can have someone pick it up for you. You can also consider having your packages delivered to another address, like your work or a friend’s house, so you can pick them up when you return.
You know you need to lock the doors, but when was the last time you checked to make sure the windows were locked? It’s worth checking, especially if you sometimes open the windows to let the fresh air in.
Do you have a doggy door? If you do, it could make your home vulnerable to break-ins. Consider replacing it with a locking pet door before you leave. You can also install a regular lock and lock it up before you go.
It turns out, you really aren’t saving all that much money when you unplug your electronic devices. But leaving all that stuff plugged in can still be a safety hazard, especially if you’re planning to be gone for a while. Not to mention, possible power surges can damage your appliances and devices if they’re left plugged in.
Electronics to unplug include:
Items that you want to leave plugged in, like alarm clocks, can be plugged into a power strip. Just make sure you leave large appliances, like the refrigerator, plugged into the wall. They have to pull even more power through a cord, which can overload your circuit breaker.
Have you ever gone on vacation and wondered if you turned off the stove? You’ll never have to ask yourself that question again if you take pictures of your appliances before you go on vacation.
Take a picture of your stove to prove to yourself that you shut it off, but you should also take a picture of other appliances and electronics you might be worried about. For example, you might take a picture of your hair straightener to prove to yourself that you remembered to turn it off and unplug it, or you might take a picture of the garage door to prove to yourself that you remembered to shut it.
Nothing gives away the fact that you’re away from home more than an unruly yard. Mow your grass, trim bushes, and water your plants the day before you leave so it looks like someone is still at home taking care of the yard.
If you’re going to be gone for more than a week, enlist the help of a landscaper or a friend to make sure your yard is mowed while you’re gone. Also, have someone shovel if it snows, as an unshoveled driveway is a dead giveaway that there’s no one home.
There are many wonderful reasons to get to know your neighbors better. One is that they can keep an eye on your house while you’re gone.
Let them know when you’re leaving and how long you plan to be away. When they know you aren’t there, they are much more likely to report any suspicious activity. Just make sure they have your number so they can contact you about things you might need to know while you’re away from home.
Having an alarm system and security cameras can help keep your property safe and secure while you’re on vacation, but you don’t have to have the latest tech in order to protect your home. By doing simple things like turning off your water, locking your windows, and unplugging electronics, you can actually relax on vacation knowing that your house is safe and sound.