Protect Your Home While You’re On Vacation

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You’re packed and ready to go. The cooler’s in the car and your emergency contacts have a copy of your itinerary. Yep, you’re vacation ready. But is your house?

Summer is a great time to get away and relax, but if you’re not careful it could be prime time for a burglar. Take steps to batten down the hatches and secure your house before you leave so you can really kick back, worry-free. Here are a few tips:

Don’t announce you’re not at home:

  • Stop all newspaper and postal deliveries while you’re gone. Nothing says “we’re not home” like a pile of letters and bills spilling out of your mailbox or a week’s worth ofThe New York Times heaped at your front door.
  • We know you love social media but hold off on posting those selfies from the Grand Canyon on Facebook or Instagramming that fabulous meal you had at Tavern on the Green until you’re back home.
  • Have a neighbor put out your garbage cans (and take them back in) or just forgo collection while you’re away.
  • Put a few lights on timers and program them to turn on and off per your regular routine. For example, light up your family room and/or kitchen in the evening until your normal bedtime. Use an outdoor timer to illuminate your main entrances from dusk to dawn.
  • If you have a landline phone, turn down the volume so its ringing can’t be heard from outside, and don’t be tempted to change your voicemail greeting to indicate you’re on holiday.

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Take security measures:

  • Be sure all door and window locks work and fix any broken window panes before heading out.
  • If you have a security service, alert it that you’ll be away and leave the company’s number – and your alarm code – with your emergency contacts.
  • If you’re leaving a car behind, park it outside against the garage door to block access and stow your garage door remotes out of sight.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to check on your house every other day.

Miscellaneous home prep:

  • Unplug small appliances and electronics and put your water heater on vacation mode.
  • Shut off the water supply to the dishwasher and washing machine to prevent freak flooding.
  • Reset the thermostat to protect plants or pets left behind and keep cool enough to inhibit mold or mildew growth.
  • Toss any food that might go bad while you’re away and take out the (smelly) trash even if your garbage won’t be collected during your absence.
  • Stock the pantry with cold cereal, shelf-stable milk and coffee so your post-vacation breakfast will be one less thing to worry about.

Now, go and have fun!

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