Don’t let the stress of packing for a long weekend away or a highly anticipated family vacation cloud your mind when it comes to keeping your home safe and maintained while you’re gone. Leave your worries on the doorstep and take the proper precautions when it comes to securing your property. This includes everything from making sure your windows are locked to taking out the trash.
According to the latest statistics from the FBI, there are about 1.3 million residential burglaries each year in the United States with one occurring every 16 seconds. While these statistics may sound startling, there are several safeguards you and your family can take to ward off intruders while you’re relaxing and having fun. There are also a few provisions you can take to make your home look “lived in” while you’re away, so you won’t come home to any surprises.
Secure Your Home
- Advertise your home security system with a sign in your front yard. Even if you don’t have a system in place, you can still put a sign in the front yard with the hope of deterring a potential burglar.
- Install surveillance cameras in the front and back of your house.
- Remove any keys you might have hidden outside on your porch or patio.
- Lock up jewelry, cash, the deed to your home and other valuables in a fire-proof safe.
- Stop mail and newspaper delivery, and have a trusted neighbor pick up fliers and packages from the front porch, as well as handle the trash cans on collection day.
- Alert your home security system company of your vacation, and make sure all door and window alarms are working. Be sure to lock all your doors and windows, too.
Managing Dogs, Cats and Other Pets
Depending on your vacation plans, you may not be able to bring your pet along. To make the transition of leaving your pet behind a bit easier, take advantage of one of these options:
- Kennel — Ask around to family, friends or your veterinarian to find a trustworthy kennel for your pet. This is a good place if you don’t have anyone you know to watch pet while you’re gone.
- Pet sitter —You can choose to pay a pet sitter who either stays in your home while you’re gone, or conveniently stops by a few times a day for feeding and bathroom breaks.
- A family friend — This truly depends on the type of pet you have and how well your family member or friend knows him. Young puppies are extremely demanding and can damage a person’s house if not careful. Dogs that are homebodies may also find this type of arrangement upsetting.
Smaller pets such as cats and fish can be left home for longer periods of time, while animals such as rabbits, lizards and birds need to be cared for regularly.
Taking Care of Indoor and Outdoor Plants
If you don’t have automatic sprinkler system outside, ask a friend or neighbor to water your outdoor plants, lawn and garden while you’re gone. The same applies during the winter. Ask a neighbor to shovel your walk while you’re gone, or check with a local high school student who may want to earn a few extra dollars.
You can easily tend to your indoor houseplants while you’re gone by either having a trusted friend water them for you or purchasing a glass plant water bulb that can automatically keep plants watered for about two weeks. Succulent indoor plants don’t need much attention, and they can go a week or two or more without being watered.
Keep Your Vacation Plans Off-Line
It can be tempting to announce your vacation plans to all your friends and followers on your social network, but it’s best to keep those plans off the Internet until you return. Sharing settings are not completely secure, and it takes only one wrong pair of eyes to find out that your property will be vacant for a stretch of time. You can always text or email pictures from your trip to your close friends and family members.
A Few Reminders
Right before you leave the house, you’ll want to take care of a few household tasks:
- Throw away all food that will perish while you’re gone.
- Turn the furnace down or the air conditioner up.
- Take all garbage out of the house.
- Make sure all open food in the pantry and cupboards are sealed to keep ants away.
- Unplug electronics and any unused appliances.
- Close inside doors to keep rooms cool or warm, depending on the season.
- Close your curtains and blinds.
- Set your inside and porch lights on a timer to go on during the time you would normally be home.
- Make sure you don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or wet laundry in the washer.
Relax and Have Fun
The best way to remember to take care of all these tasks is to make a checklist and go over it twice. Once you take care of these measures, you can sit back and relax on your well-deserved vacation.