It’s a homeowner’s worst nightmare – returning home from vacation to a burglarized home. The emotional and monetary tolls are terrible. The FBI reported 2.16 million burglaries and $4.6 billion in lost property in 2010.
Protect your family’s well-being by prepping your home before you leave for a vacation. These five tips could make all the difference.
1. Call on your neighbors. Reach out to a friendly neighbor and ask them to monitor your house while you are away. Being aware of your schedule will make your neighbor more cautious and likely to spot suspicious activity. They can help stop illegal activity before it even happens by notifying the police and you. Leave them the best method to reach you, a house key and walk them through home. Return the favor next time they are out of town.
2. Create “life.” By using timers throughout your house, you can make it seem like you never left town. Timers can turn on and off outdoor and indoor lights and appliances, such as the television, at allotted times. Ask your neighbor to pick up package deliveries, mail and newspaper, or suspend deliveries while you are away. If possible, leave a car in the driveway and pull up the blinds.
3. Reset the thermostat and unplug appliances. Be sure to adjust the thermostat to an appropriate setting. Don’t turn it off as you want to keep your temperature control system running to make sure everything in your home remains in good condition. Unplug unnecessary appliances such as computers, the dryers and lights that are not set to timers. Disconnect your electric car door opener as many thieves can “hack” the radio frequencies that operate these types of doors. And to help prevent an accidental flood, turn off the water to your sinks, toilets, dishwasher and washing machine.
One of the best ways to remain worry free about unexpected home repairs — when you’re on vacation or anytime — is to purchase a home warranty that covers the cost of repairing and servicing major home appliances. You can’t underestimate the value of simple, preventive measures, but this way if something breaks you know you’re covered.
4. Reach out to a family and friend. A close friend or a family member should have contact information to reach you and a set of keys to your properties. Be sure to include keys to vehicles, storage facilities or other properties that you own. Schedule a walk-through with your emergency contact to test every key.
5. Chores are a must. Before you leave town, do some chores. Throw out perishable goods—milk, eggs and fruit—that will spoil while you’re away. Leave them in the outside trash receptacle. If it’s not trash day, ask your neighbor to take it out later in the week. Don’t forget to empty all your wastebaskets. It’ll be one less chore to do when you return home with travel fatigue.
Just like you plan ahead for a vacation, be sure to plan for your home. These steps will help lower your chances of being burglarized while you are away.
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