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Before you left on vacation you were going to do a "house check" weren't you?  Make sure that everything that should be powered off  is off and that the house is "secured".  If you need a plan, read our article and follow our guidelines - before you depart. 

 

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Travel Advice - Conduct  a "house  security check" before you depart       

During the last minute rush to leave home for vacation, many travelers are so focused on getting to the airport that they forget to button up their home. Make sure to take some time to review our house checklist before you depart.  It is best to think about securing your house several days in advance of your departure, in case you need to purchase any of the devices we mention. 

As near departure as convenient, take the actions described below.

1. Set the thermostat back to a cool level if it is winter and a warmer level if it is summer. There is no advantage to excessively warming a cold house or excessively cooling a war house.

2. If you will be gone longer than a week, consider lowering the thermostat on the water heater. Most modern water heaters have a vacation setting for energy conservation.

3. Make sure to unplug “quick-on” appliances like televisions or PC’s before you leave. Your TV and PC may have a power system that constantly draws current, even when turned- off to allow for quick start-up. "Quick-on" systems can cause fires, even when turned off,

4. Unplug any lamps, radios, computers and other devices not related to home security.

5. Close and lock all windows and doors. You can air the house out when you return home.

  • If your house has sliding glass doors, be sure to leave them locked and use a professional blocking system or a one-inch dowel cut to the length of the door to prohibit anyone from “jimmying” the door open.
  • If your windows are "sliders" consider a blocking device for them.

 

6. If you are leaving your car at home, make sure to park it in the garage, lock it, and set the security system.

  • Make sure to lock the garage door and disable the automatic door opener. (Thieves can gain entry to your house by using a scanner-like device to crack the code on your automatic door opener.)

7. Set your home security system if you have one.

8. Set several lamps on a variable lighting schedule to give the appearance that the house is occupied, even though you are on vacation.

  • Lamp timers can be purchased at your local hardware store.

9. Leave a house key with a trusted neighbor or relative in case you need someone to access something in your house while you are on vacation.

10. If you live in a cold climate, power failures can lead to lack of heating and, possibly, frozen pipes.

  • Ask your plumber or heating contractor if you should consider draining your water system and shutting your home’s water valve to minimize damage that could be caused by burst pipes.
    •  Be sure to acquaint them with any systems in your home that may require a water flow for proper operation (humidifiers, etc.).

11.  Cancel your newspapers for the duration of your vacation and arrange for the Postal  Service to "hold" your mail  until your return.  Newspapers in the driveway and an overflowing mailbox let everyone know you are not home.

  • Newspapers can usually be cancelled through the newspaper's web site.
  • The United States Postal Service at https://dunsapp.usps.gov/HoldMail.jsp has a form that you can use to have your mail held from 3 to 30 days.
    • The online service is currently limited to certain ZIP codes.  If you cannot use this service, you will need to visit the Post Office that delivers your mail to obtain and fill-out the "hold mail" form.

12.  If you mow your lawn, arrange to have someone else you trust perform this service while you are away.  If you pay someone to mow your lawn, let them continue the service but do not tell them you will be away.   

 13.  Arrange for a trusted neighbor to put out and retrieve your trash barrels, if you need to have them emptied while you are away.

14.  On departure day, after you have loaded the bags and your fellow travelers into your transportation, re-enter the house and make one final check of power plugs, appliances, windows and a doors.

  • Make sure that everything that should be turned off is turned off.
  • Look for clothes irons, hair dryers, and curling irons that were used at the last minute and make sure they were shut off and unplugged.
  • Check all counters to make sure that you have not left behind any materials needed for your travels.
  • Check all outside doors to make sure they are locked securely.  Make sure your windows are closed.
  • Once you have completed your review, close the door, lock it, and take your vacation knowing that your home is safe and secure.

Note:  The security of your home is your obligation.  Our recommendations may not be comprehensive or appropriate for all homes or use by all homeowners.  Contact local authorities or a professional security firm for the "best practices" in your neighborhood.

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