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Home Care 101: Protect Your Home While Away
Dated: November 17 2023
Preparing for the holidays is always a busy time. Cooking. Cleaning. Shopping. Wrapping. Parties. Concerts. Celebrations. And travel. With the busyness of the season, it can be easy to overlook or simply not prioritize protecting your home while you're away. However, it's worth it to take the time to prepare now so that you do not return from vacation to discover that your home has been burglarized or find damage due to burst pipes or other disasters.
From the Wet Bandits
One of everyone's favorite holiday movies, Home Alone, also has the premise of not just one but two of our worst nightmares—forgetting a child and having your home burglarized. While we cannot help with managing the Kevin's of your family, these tips can help you protect your home from the wet bandits and their cohorts.
- Arrange to have someone collect your mail and packages daily. Stopping the mail isn't enough. One flyer from a well-meaning landscaping company that stays on your door handle but not on your neighbor's is a clear indication to a would-be burglar that no one is home.
- If you set timers for lights, also try to set timers for sound, like music or a tv. Check to be sure all exterior lighting is working, and invest in motion sensors for outdoor lights.
- Go beyond double checking that you locked the door behind you. At least a week prior to your trip, check that the locks on all your doors and windows are in working order and cannot be easily broken. The day of your departure, check that all windows and doors are locked. Remember to check the locks on doors and windows in outdoor structures like sheds and detached garages. Be sure to remove any spare keys that you might typically leave outdoors in case someone locks themselves out. Instead, leave the keys with a neighbor while you're away.
- Move valuables that can be seen from windows. Leaving a laptop on the kitchen table in view of the picture window is bait for a burglar, especially if the laptop remains unmoved for days. Leaving window treatments closed when they're normally open during the day can signal a potential thief that you're away. However, the same can be said for leaving them open overnight if they're typically closed. If someone is picking up your mail, consider having them adjust a window treatment here or there to indicate that someone is home.
- Do not post about your vacation on social media before you leave or while you're away, and make sure that your friends and family do not post about your vacation either. You can post all your pictures and stories when you return. Just make sure you make it clear in your posts that you've returned so you don't encounter a burglar entering your home with the false belief that you're still away.
- Hire a shoveling service or ask a neighbor to shovel for you. Not only will this signal to a burglar that someone is home to take care of the snowfall, it will also be more welcoming than coming home to the task of shoveling the snow or needing to trudge through the snow on your sidewalks with your suitcases.
- If you have a dog, get a dog sitter instead of taking the dog to a kennel. The greatest deterrent to a would-be burglar is a barking dog. And, of course, a dog sitter can also deter burglars by adjusting lights and sounds, bringing in mail and packages, and otherwise making the house appear occupied even when they're not there.
From Other Hazards
From Home Alone to the GriswoldS, make sure you don't return to a disaster or receive a call from a neighbor about problems with your home while you're away. A few simple steps can help you relax during your vacation.
- Check your smoke detectors and replace dead batteries.
- Do not leave the holiday lights on any Christmas trees.
- Install smart sensors on your water pipes. Smart sensors shut your water off if water freezes, preventing pipes from bursting. Make sure you know how to turn the water off in your home and, if you have a dog sitter or house sitter, show them how to shut the water off.
- Add extra insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces, check pipes for cracks and leaks, and protect pipes with insulation.
- Clean out the gutters and install gutter guards. This keeps direct rainwater and melting snow and ice into the ground instead of into your home.
Take some time away from cooking, cleaning, shopping, and wrapping to protect your home from burglars, burst pipes, fire, and other disasters. Taking the time to prepare your home now will help you avoid feeling as if you've joined the misery of the McCallisters and Griswolds and instead can laugh as Kevin McCallister defies the wet bandits and Clark Griswold gets tangled in his holiday lights.
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