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Keeping Your Home Safe While You're Away

Posted on February 18th, 2016

With a few more months of cold weather ahead of us throughout much of the U.S., there is still plenty of time to plan a vacation to somewhere warm. Whether you are jetting off for a quick vacation or are a frequent snowbird who heads south for months on end, it's important to plan ahead and take precautions to protect your home from theft and any unexpected mishaps. In addition to the obvious step of locking all your doors and windows, consider these tips to prepare your house while you're away:

Make sure your house looks lived in
The best way to ensure your house stays safe from theft is to make it seem like you're there. Depending on the length of your vacation, contact the U.S. Postal Service to put a hold on your mail (from 3 to 30 days) or have it forwarded (from 15 days to 1 year – after 6 months you can extend it for another 6 months) so it doesn't pile up in your mailbox. Stop your newspaper as well, if possible. Sometimes it's hard to stop those free newspapers, so try to enlist a neighbor or friend to stop over every few days to pick up any papers or packages that may have been left at your door. If they are especially neighborly, give them a key and ask them to water your plants and do a quick walk-through from time to time while you are away. You may also want to consider putting some of your interior lights on timers so they turn on and off giving the appearance of someone being home, and your exterior lights on motion sensors.

Save energy and avoid a mishap
To help keep your home protected from fire or water damage, and save some energy at the same time, think about other precautionary measures you can take. This includes unplugging appliances such as TVs, microwaves, clocks, extra lamps (other than the ones connected to timers, as suggested above), etc. Depending on how long you will be away, you may want to consider cleaning out your fridge and emptying and turning off the icemaker. If you do decide to empty and unplug the fridge, open the doors a bit to protect against mold and odor. Turning your heat down to no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit may help save on heating costs. You may also want to learn more about how to best protect against freezing pipes and decide if you should turn your water supply off while you are on vacation. Several steps are involved with shutting off the main water supply, so be sure to contact a licensed plumber or building professional for assistance.

Make arrangements in advance
Many plans can be made in advance to help you from stressing during last minute vacation prep. Things like arranging for snow removal and cancelling garbage service can be done well in advance. You can also make plans for pet care, if your furry loves will not be joining you on your trip. And don't forget about your car – if you are taking your car, get it serviced prior to leaving to avoid any unnecessary breakdowns. If you're keeping the car in the garage while you are away, you may want to get it ready with these long-term storage tips.

For even more helpful tips, click here.

This article has been provided for educational purposes only and is based on the most reliable information available on the date of publication.

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