Things to Do Before You Leave Home on a Long Vacation
By Michelle Sonali
Updated: May 20th, 2019
After a wonderful vacation and some much needed time off, getting back to your routine can be gloomy as it is. But getting back to a home that has been broken into or flooded rooms can ruin the fun of the entire trip. Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy an amazing holiday without having to worry about your home? Therefore, you should prepare yourself with a few safety measures before you leave home and go on vacation. Here are some of the most common things you should do before you head out on a holiday:
Check windows and doors
Well, how can anyone forget this!
Few days before leaving: Shut all doors and windows and take a walk around the house a few days before you plan on leaving. Check whether the locks on the windows and doors are secure, check if any of the windows or doors can be opened from outside. If you find any locks broken, then you should call a carpenter and get them replaced.
On the day you’re leaving: Lock all the door and windows, even check the ones that are always left shut.
Set up lights and motion detectors
To keep your home lit and not always in the dark, install timers on your lamps/lights. You can find timers at your local home supply store. They are easy to install and you set them to turn on and off at scheduled times. This makes it look like someone’s inside and switching on the lights. You can also install motion detectors for your outside lights. They trigger only when they sense movement illuminating the area around your home. Motion detectors as well are easy to install and are useful not only as a security feature but also when you get back home late in the night.
Clean your garbage disposal
If your garbage disposal isn’t run for a few days, it is likely for the sludge and debris stuck in the machine to rot. Clean your garbage disposal before heading out, you don’t want to come back to a foul-smelling sink. You can follow these steps to clean your garbage disposal.
Lock up valuables
Lock up valuable documents and files like tax records, medical records, stocks, passports, checkbooks, birth certificates and other certificates in a waterproof and fire-rated file chest.
Inform the police and the alarm company
If you’re heading out on a vacation for a week or longer, notify the police and the alarm company. If you live in a small town, it’s possible that the police will go out of their way to drive by your home while on patrol. Leave your house key and the code to your security alarm with someone you trust, provide the name and contact number of this person to the police and alarm company. This way if the alarm goes off by mistake, your neighbors won’t have to worry about trying to contact you while you’re away.
Make alternate arrangements for the mail
A fully loaded mailbox is a giveaway sign to potential thieves. So why keep receiving your mail while on vacation? The postal service provides customers with the option to suspend their mail services. They hold the mail at the post office until the date specified by you, after that all your mail will be delivered. The exact duration to suspend your mail differs depending on the area in which you live. Make sure to get the details from your local postal service.
You could also request a trusted neighbor to collect your mail from your mailbox while you’re away. The same applies to deliveries, you can either put them on hold or ask a neighbor to pick them up.
Don’t forget to suspend your newspaper. Newspapers lying on your front porch is another giveaway sign for thieves.
Check your fridge, trash, and garbage
Empty the trash and recycling. Clean your kitchen counter and fridge of perishables like fruits. Get rid of anything that can decompose and become bait for bugs. Take the garbage containers out before you leave. But make sure that the containers aren’t left out.
You could ask a neighbor for help and ask them to bring the containers back in. If you’re heading out for a long time, it would be advisable to ask a neighbor to take the trash cans out and bring them back in so that your home isn’t the only one on the block without any activity. You can consider hiring a young neighbor who might be looking out for some extra allowance. You can ask them to take your cans down the street and back, so that way your home isn’t the only one without any activity.
If you’re new to the locality or aren’t comfortable with asking a neighbor to bring your trash cans back in, you could do this a day earlier and restrict yourselves to dining out at a reliable place the previous night and having protein bars for breakfast before you head out on vacation.
You can save on electricity while you’re away by unplugging your electronics.
- Electronics with standby or “sleep” modes: Desktop PCs, cable boxes, televisions, DVD/Blu-ray players, radio or any other device that has a remote control is never really “off”. A device that has an “instant on” feature or has LED lights glowing when it’s off is constantly draining a small amount of power. Turn off the surge protector that the electronics are connected to. Electronics are usually (they should be) plugged into a surge protector.
- Electronics with external power supplies: Unplug your stereo, video game console, any charges, and other similar devices that constantly draw power
- Washers and dryers: New fancy washers and dryers that have digital timers and the like can also drain power just like computers and TVs. Ensure that you unplug them before you leave on your holiday.
- Modems and routers: Unless you have a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat and you intend to turn the temperature back to your normal a few hours before you get home, you can unplug these. You not only save energy cost but you also avoid the risk of your Wi-Fi being hacked into while you’re away.
Remember that if you’re leaving your Wi-Fi on, check and see whether there are any unknown devices connected to your network. It’s advisable to change your password if you have not changed in a while or have been suspicious about high internet bills.
- Small appliances: Toasters, rice cookers, blenders, coffee machines, microwaves, etc can be unplugged.
Open or drawn curtains
Leave your curtains just the way you always leave them. If you’re used to keeping your curtains drawn, a drastic change like drawing all your curtains could get your home noticed. Instead, keep expensive items out of plain sight.
Remove spare keys
If you keep spare keys in any ‘secret places’ around the house, make sure to remove them from there. Thieves usually check under the doormat and in fake rocks for spare keys.
Do the dishes
Once you are back from a lovely long vacation, you don’t want be welcomed home by pests and vermin. A stack of dirty dishes left in a vacant home is a green signal for pest and vermin. If you don’t have the time to run the dishwasher, at least give the dishes a good rinse. Don’t forget to clean the food trap of your dishwasher and remove all the food particles. If you do not have the habit of maintaining your dishwasher from time to time, follow these preventive measures to save yourself from future repair costs.
Set your thermostat
Heating and cooling are usually a home’s largest source of energy consumption. So it’s best to save on your electricity bill at least while you’re away from home. This being said, don’t turn off the power altogether. Set the temperature to a degree that wouldn’t require high power consumption. Regardless of whether it is summer or winter, you need to keep your home’s temperature stable when you’re away in order to prevent frozen pipes, condensation or other potentially damaging effects. Getting home to broken pipes, soaking furniture and a submerged floor point blank takes out all the fun from your trip. If you’ve been having problems with your air conditioning, it’s best to have it fixed before you head out.
During winter, set your thermostat between 50ºF to 60ºF. Setting it at a temperature lower than that could run the risk of frozen pipes. If you’re heading out in summer, set your thermostat between 80ºF to 85ºF. If you have a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat, you can change the temperature to suit your preference from your smartphone before you get home.
Keep Your Social Media Hush
Don’t publicly announce that you are going on vacation. This would alert thieves and robbers that your home is going to be empty. Avoid sharing your travel plans in advance and pictures or check-ins while you are away. If you set up an auto-reply on your email, don’t mention that you’ll be going out of town. Leave a message saying that you’re unavailable will suffice.
Secure Your Home Completely
Follow these steps to keep your home safe, secure, and free from intruders when you get back.
While you’re at it, if you haven’t already got a home warranty, submit your zip code and email for a free quote. So if you are not convinced then you should use the Home Maintenance Calculator and determine the cost of repairs as against the cost of a home warranty. Home Warranties are generally the cost of single repair of a major appliance breakdown and this would cost you. Why worry about your systems and appliances when you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your appliances would be well looked after with a home warranty. Also, if you are looking at upgrading to another home, you must use the Mortgage Calculator and figure out the best interest rate that you are willing to pay.
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