Ways to Safeguard Your Home Before Leaving Town

ways to safeguard your home before leaving town

Congratulations! You’re finally going on that long-anticipated and much-deserved vacation. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the morning you leave to get your house prepped for vacation-mode. Here’s our pre-travel checklist:

  • Unplug and reset the thermostat. Temporarily adjust the thermostat so you’re not wasting energy in an empty house. (A good rule of thumb is 4 degrees off your normal temperature.)
  • Make sure gutters, downspouts, and drains are clear. Overflowing water can flood the basement and seep under siding, causing substantial damage.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies that you’ll be away. You don’t want to risk your bank or credit card company declining or blocking your purchase because of suspected fraud. If you’re traveling overseas, carry more than one card. Not all credit cards are universally accepted.  
  • Notify your alarm company of your departure date and estimated time of return. To receive the best security while you’re away, the alarm company will need to know when you’re out of town and that no one will be entering your house during this time. That way, if your alarm goes off, the alarm company will automatically send police to your home.
  • Confirm reservations. Write down important phone numbers and contact information. You never know when you might need to quickly access this information.
  • If you don’t have any pets that might fall in during your absence, flush all toilets and leave the lids up while you’re gone. 
  • Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve. Your dishwasher, washing machine, ice-maker, toilets, and sinks don’t need water while you’re away.
  • Set your water heater to “vacation” mode. This will help you save a few bucks on your heating bill.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to check on your house. Give them the spare key. Don’t ever leave a spare key on your property while you’re out of town. If a burglar really wants to get into your house, the obvious spots he or she will check include under the door mat, above the door frame, in the flower pot, and under that fake rock. Those hiding spots aren’t fooling anyone.
  • Invest in deadbolt locks. When Reddit asked burglars for deterrents, they said any lock other than a deadlock can easily be disengaged.
  • Unplug small appliances and electronics. This could not only help prevent an electrical fire, it’s better for the environment and your wallet.
  • Park your car inside the garage. Remove any electric garage door openers from all cars.
  • Stop newspaper and mail delivery (unless a friend or neighbor can pick them up for you). Newspapers piled by your front door is a signal to criminals that you’re away from home.   
  • Don’t advertise on social media that you’re out of town. Wait until you’re back to post vacation pictures.
  • If you don’t have one already, consider buying a light timer system that can turn lights on and off according to a programmed schedule. If someone is casing your house, you want to make it look like someone is there. (You could also leave a light on while you’re away, but when a light is on at 3 a.m. for consecutive nights in a row—unless you’re an insomniac—it’s a pretty dead giveaway that you’re not there.)
  • Clean out the fridge. Pour half a cup of vinegar and hot water down the sink and run the garbage disposal. Wash and dry clothes. Take out the garbage. It’s easier to come back to reality when you’re returning home to a clean (and clean-smelling) house.
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