Plane tickets? Check. Suitcase packed? Check. Wrapped gifts packed? Check. Protecting your home during holiday travel? Oooops!
If you’re planning on traveling for the holidays, don’t leave your home’s protection to chance. Coming home from a holiday trip to find your home has been broken into, or that a pipe has broken in your absence can ruin all those relaxing hours with family and friends.
While this is true for anyone, it is especially important that new homeowners take steps to safeguard their home while out of town.
Here are some of the basics:
Get a little help from your friends: Ask a friend to water plants, check on your house and pick up mail or newspapers.
If you’ve met your neighbors, you should let them know you will be away. Give them you phone number and the date you’ll get back. If you are having a friend check on your home or water plants while you’re away, let your neighbor know that too so they don’t accidently call the police on your friend.
Avoid posting to social media: In a world filled with tweets and posts that go out to the wide world, you can’t be certain that your posts of being away aren’t being viewed and monitored by thieves. Save your pictures to post after you’re back home. The memories will be just as sweet.
Lights, Curtains: All the world’s a stage…
While you’re gone, to make your home not appear empty, you might think about lighting up the rooms in the evening. This does not mean leaving the lights on in all the rooms the whole time. First off, that would seem weird, and secondly, it will give you a higher electric bill. The best course of action is to get timers and connect them to lamps. Have them set to come on and go off in each room as you would normally use that room. For example, from early evening to just prior to bed time in the living areas and in the bedrooms briefly as if you were getting ready for bed. You can find timers at many retail outlets and online for less than $10.
Regarding window coverings, keep them the way you usually do, but move electronics and other costly items out of sight.
Stop the mail: If you have mail or newspapers delivered to your home, suspend delivery while you are gone. The US Postal Service allows you to sign up online for most ZIP codes to hold your mail with the use of a credit card (for a nominal charge to prove identity).
What else should you do? If you have a neighborhood watch or community association, let them know to keep an eye on your place. Make arrangements with services to sweep leaves and snow off your walkways and driveway. Unplug appliances that have LED lights (coffee pots, microwaves, televisions, etc.) so that your electric bill isn’t huge when you get home. Lastly, if there is any chance of freezing weather, leave your furnace set to no lower than 56°F to keep your pipes from freezing. If you aren’t sure how well your pipes are insulated, open the cabinet doors below your sinks to let the warmer air circulate.
Now…go have a great holiday trip!