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In The Community June 30, 2015

How to Keep Your Home Safe when You’re Away

When you plan to go out of town, whether for vacation or business, you most likely make arrangements for your personal safety and that of your family. What about the safety of your home? Keeping your home safe while you’re away greatly depends on the preparations you make. Here are some tips to consider:

1. Ask a friend to help or hire a house-sitter to feed your pet, water plants, get your mail, as well as to rake leaves and mow the lawn if necessary. This will give the impression that someone lives in your home. Before you leave, mow the lawn and tidy up the yard.

2. Stop mail delivery. A full mailbox is a sign that your home is not lived in, so call your local post office and ask them to hold your mail until you return. Alternatively, have a trustworthy friend pick up your mail.

3. Make your house look occupied by installing timers that periodically turn on / off interior lights and the TV every evening. Also, leave your curtains as you typically keep them when you’re home.

4. Don’t forget to lock all the windows and doors, including the garage door, securely. Before you leave, double check all safety latches on the windows and exterior door locks.

5. Never announce your vacation plans on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or your blog. There may be hundreds of opportunistic burglars who are fishing for announcements like these. What you say on your answering machine and voice mail matters, too.

6. Unplug electronics such as the computer, toaster, and oven to save on electricity and to protect them from power surges. Leave on the devices that have a timer.

7. Install additional security features to make your home safer and look less attractive to robbers. Consider investing in a security system, cameras or even fake security cameras, at the very least. Exterior lights that run on timers also help.

8. Lock up your valuables, such as sensitive documents and jewelry, in a fireproof safe or bank safety deposit box. Never leave them in your home in plain sight.

9. Review your home insurance to make sure that there aren’t any exclusions which could render it void. For example, check that you’re covered if you are away for a certain number of days or if a non-family member lives in your home.

10. Turn off the water at the main shut off. You may think it’s unlikely to have a plumbing leak while you’re away, but insurance companies report hundreds of these incidents each year. Water damage from undetected leaks can ruin walls, floors and ceilings and lead to expensive repair costs. To prevent this, shut the main valve next to your water meter. Then turn off the icemaker in your refrigerator, to prevent the line from freezing up.

Implementing a safety plan for your home can dramatically decrease the chances that your possessions will get stolen or damaged. Besides, knowing that your home is secure will give you peace of mind during your vacation.