Before heading off on that long-awaited vacation, make sure to protect your home and belongings during your absence. These simple steps can reduce your risk of a break-in and address potential maintenance issues so that you can fully enjoy your time away.
How to Protect Your Home
Studies have shown that more break-ins occur during summer months than at any other time of year (including the winter holidays), presumably because more people are away from their homes. This is also the same reason why nearly two-thirds of burglaries, according to data from the US Department of Justice, take place during daylight hours.
Consequently, one of the best ways to prevent theft is to make it look like someone is home. In addition, the more you do to protect your home, the greater the chances that would-be thieves will look for an easier target.
The following tips can help deter burglars:
- Leave a few curtains and blinds open.
- Put timers on your exterior lights and some of your interior lights.
- Ask the post office to hold your mail, or ask a neighbor to collect it for you.
- Stow collectibles, jewelry, and heirlooms in a safe location away from windows. If you have time before your trip, consider creating a home inventory as well.
- Ask your neighbor to mow your lawn, or hire a service.
- Alert your alarm company or test your Wi-Fi or remote system to make sure your security system functions before you leave. (Some insurance providers will lower insurance premiums for installing a security system with central monitoring. Ask your insurance broker to learn more.)
- Keep a car in the driveway.
- Lock and deadbolt all doors and windows, including those on stand-alone structures and garages.
- Bring all spare keys indoors.
- Remove ladders and other items a burglar could use to climb to a second-story window, such as a tire swing or overgrown branches.
Anticipate Common Home Maintenance Issues
While specific chores and routine maintenance tasks will vary from household to household, the following tips address the most common summer maintenance issues:
- Unplug all major electronics in case of a power surge during a summer thunderstorm.
- Make sure your gutters are clean and unclogged.
- Secure outdoor furniture that could become debris in high winds.
- If you have a sump pump installed in a basement-level space, make sure it functions and that the nearby power outlet doesn’t need to be reset.
- Consider setting your air conditioner to 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit, but adjust this number based on typical indoor humidity levels to avoid mold or mildew growth.
- Check the battery in your smoke alarm.
- Clear your sink and dishwasher of dishes and wipe away crumbs.
- Make sure the dishwasher, clothes washer, sinks, showers, and bathtubs don’t have any standing water or lingering moisture.
- Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home, or hire a house sitter.