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Millions of Americans travel every year, whether to visit family and friends during the holidays, for vacation or on business. Traveling is an opportunity to unplug and unwind while exploring new places. But it can be challenging to relax if you’re worried about the security of your home. Here, we share some tips to help protect your home when you travel.
Prepare your home
A simple checklist can help you quickly prepare your home without overlooking anything as you head out the door.
- Turn off the water. A water leak in your home is never good, but it can be disastrous if you’re not around to respond to the problem. Before you leave, be sure to turn off the main water supply to avoid any flooding that could result from a burst pipe or other plumbing failure.1 If you’ll be away during cold-weather months, take it a step further by flushing the toilets to empty the tanks and adding a small amount of marine antifreeze. This helps prevent the remaining water in the bowl from freezing.2
- Unplug electronics and appliances. A power surge that takes place while you’re away could damage your television, computers, microwave and other devices. If your electronics are powered directly from a wall outlet, be sure to unplug them and turn off any surge protectors. These precautions can also reduce the risk of fire and lower your energy bill.
- Lock up. It might seem obvious, but make sure all doors and windows are locked, and be careful not to overlook any that are infrequently used or less accessible. Secure pet doors, and reinforce sliding glass doors with a strong bar or additional lock. Finally, remove any spare keys that may be hidden outside the home.
- · To better prepare your home, consider any unique circumstances associated with it. If you have a pool, for instance, be sure to cover it. And be mindful of the weather in your area. If there’s a chance of stormy weather while you’re away, check the sump pump and gutters, and look for any weak tree limbs.1,2
Monitor your home
It’s now easier than ever to protect your home remotely with a home security system. Homes without a security system are three times more likely to be burglarized, so simply having a system in place can deter criminals.3 A home security system can also detect other threats, such as fire and carbon monoxide.
Make sure your home does not look vacant
Empty houses are an easy target for criminals. Hiring a house sitter is one solution, but there are other ways to make your house appear as though it’s occupied while you’re away. Place a few internal lights on timers and install motion-activated outdoor lights. Devices are also available that can mimic the light and sounds of a TV and create an illusion that someone is home. Arrange to have someone mow your grass and water the flowers, and put a temporary hold on your mail. If possible, leave a car in the driveway to act as a visible cue that somebody is home.2,4
Leverage smart home technology
Automating your home can greatly streamline your efforts to protect it and offer you peace of mind while you’re away. When you use app-based video surveillance, sensors and locks, you can keep tabs on your property and receive alerts on your smart device. You can even receive notifications if fire, water or gas sensors are triggered. It’s also easier to make your home appear occupied when you use light automation and smart plugs to turn things on and off at any time.5
Install additional home systems
- A water-shut off system comes in handy for detecting water either by monitoring flows in a house pipe or by identifying water on the floor. When water flow is irregular or moisture is detected, the valve will automatically shut off the water supply to your home, preventing potentially disastrous damage to your home and belongings.
- If a blackout or brownout occurs, a backup generator provides an alternate source of power to your home. Depending on the type of generator and your specific needs, a standby generator can power certain parts of your home, such as your refrigerator or sump pump, or it can power your entire house.
Keep your plans off social media
Let neighbors, family and friends know that you’ll be away so they can keep an eye on your house for any signs of trouble. But don’t broadcast your travel plans and dates on social media where anyone can see it. Wait to upload those awesome vacation photos until you return.
These tips and strategies can go a long way toward protecting your home when you travel. As an added benefit, you’ll be able to relax knowing that you took extra precautions to secure your home and belongings.