Posted by: Karen Fowler
Preparing for a vacation requires more than just packing and scheduling itineraries. Responsible vacationers protect their homes from burglary, destructive weather, and electrical threats before they see themselves off to their desired locations. Making sure that pets are also taken care of during their departures is also a significant part of responsible preparation. When all of these concerns are addressed, homes can be adequately protected and vacationers can return to safe residences. Read the following tips to learn how to safeguard your home from common accidents, emergencies and threats that occur during vacations.
Burglary
One of the best ways to deter would-be burglars is to make your home appear as if it is occupied while you're away. Move extra cars out onto your driveway or allow your neighbors to park in front of your house to give the appearance that your home is active. If you plan on being away for longer than a few days, make sure that your lawn is cut and looks maintained. Install light timers on the interior of your house, so that your lights can come on at night, and make it seem like you're home.
Talk to neighbors and make arrangements for them to check in on your house while you're away. If they agree, they may also be able to help with your home's general upkeep, like the watering of houseplants or collecting deliveries, including newspapers and fliers. Contact your local post office to put a temporary hold on your mail if you'll be away for an extended period of time; doing so can keep your correspondence safe from identity thieves.
Avoid announcing your vacation plans on social networking websites or in crowded public places. This may act as an open invitation for burglars. Check with your local law enforcement and inquire about any vacation check programs that they may offer. These programs allow police officers to periodically arrive at your property and inspect your home for signs of burglary.
  • Crime Prevention and Home Security Tips: The Police Department of Orange, Connecticut offer tips to keep your home burglar-free. The last section of the article gives advice for readers who plan to take a vacation.
  • Vacation Checklist: The City of New Bedford, Massachusetts offers its vacation checklist to keep its residents safe from burglars while they're away.
  • Protecting Your Home While on Vacation (PDF): The Minneapolis Community Crime Prevention group presents a handbook to help residents prepare their homes before taking extended vacations.
  • How to Avoid Becoming a Theft Victim (PDF): Constable Ken Jones of Harris County, Texas informs residents of steps that they can take to protect their homes from burglars during summer and holiday months.
  • Burglary Prevention: The City of Sugarland offers a comprehensive list of ways to help protect your home from theft attempts.
  • Vacation Check Program: The town of Beaverton, Oregon offers their Vacation Check Program to residents.
Destructive Weather
Winter vacations can be welcome breaks for those who live in particularly cold climates. If you're vacationing during the winter, it can be a good idea to drain water systems in and around your home and shut them off before leaving. For short-term vacations, you may choose to keep pipes running with a very slight drip, so as to guard against freezing. It can be smart to keep your home heating system on at a reasonable temperature while you're away; keeping the heat going and opening your cabinet and closet doors can help the heat reach pipes and protect them from freezing.
In addition, it can be prudent to prepare for home emergencies that involve water. Before leaving for an extended vacation, switch off the water valves to appliances that use large amounts of water to function, like washing machines and dishwashers. Advise your neighbors where your water main's shut-off is located, in case your pipes break while you're away and flooding occurs. Clean gutters and ensure that interior and exterior drainage systems are in proper working order to guard against the collection of standing water. You may have to take extra precautions, if you live in an area with high instances of natural disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes. Prepare your home for these weather conditions, even if none appear on the radar, in the event that your area experiences sudden and dangerous weather conditions while you're enjoying a vacation.
Power Surges
Power spikes and surges can cause major damage to appliances and electronics. Plugging devices into power strips can help protect them against unnecessary damage that they may sustain during lightning strikes, and can help safeguard your home against electrical fires. Before you leave for your vacation, unplug all of your unused appliances and electronics, like TVs and computers. Only invest in certified power strips, replace faulty or old surge protectors, and avoid knotting cords together.
Pets
Pet owners who intend to take short vacations may look into animal daycares for their pets. Those who plan on leaving for extended periods of time may benefit from enrolling their animals in boarding or kenneling facilities. Research should be done into these options to determine the best course of housing for your pet. The species, breed, and personality may point you to the care facility that is right for him.
If you plan on leaving your pet at home, and in the care of a neighbor or friend, advise your pet's guardian about feeding and walking schedules, his required medications, and any health conditions that he may have that need to be monitored. Make his veterinarian's information available, in case he suffers an accident or illness while you're away. Don't forget your pet's playtime – ensuring that he gets enough exercise and attention while you're gone can curb destructive behaviors.