By Cannon Christian
Summer has officially begun, and families, couples and friends are gearing up to get out of town for much-anticipated vacations. Forbes reports that July will likely be the busiest month for air travel due to family vacations, business trips and personal getaways. July is followed by Labor Day, which also sees high travel rates.
The excitement involved in prepping for a trip can leave you passing over important actions to secure and protect your home. Whether hitting the road for a weekend getaway, or flying out of town for an extended vacation, it’s important to take safety measures into consideration to avoid harm to your home while you’re gone.
The team at Renovation Realty recommends seven steps to assure your home is secure before skipping town.
1. Stop mail and newspaper delivery. A buildup of newspapers on your lawn or letters sticking out of the mailbox is a key signal to people passing by that you aren’t home and haven’t been for a while. Simply hold your mail and contact your local newspaper about holding as well. Expecting a package while out? Do the same for FedEx, UPS or any other large parcel delivery.
2. Store valuables — and not just electronics. Burglars are out for more than just jewelry and electronics these days. Lock away any highly personal information like social security cards, insurance and banking details, or credit card information to secure not only your identity but your cash flow. Move your computer’s hard drive to a safe area or lock it up since it contains sensitive information. You must protect your intangibles too!
3. Empty refrigerator of perishable items. No one wants to come home to the stench of rotting food, or have to go on a cleaning spree immediately upon return. Stock up on a few nonperishable items in the house to ensure you have food readily available to eat and won’t need to dine out post-vacation.
4. Turn down heat or air conditioning (off if possible). Check the local weather before leaving and adjust heat/air accordingly to save money and prevent the risk of damage if something happens to the air system while you’re out. Since no one will be home, set the temperature higher or lower than normal, and if it looks like the weather will be pleasant while you are gone, turn it all the way off and smile at money saved.
5. Pay bills before traveling. Almost all electricity, water, credit, insurance companies, etc., allow you to schedule a future payment or pay in advance. Take advantage of this! You won’t have to worry about late charges, and will know ahead of time how much money you have available while on vacation.
6. Keep porch lights on a timer. Leaving porch lights on during the day is another obvious “I’m not home” signal. If possible, keep the lights on a timer from dusk to dawn, another preventative measure that can keep your home and valuables safe.
7. Ask a trusted friend for help! A close friend or family member can also manage preventative safety measures. For example, if you don’t have timers on outside lights, ask someone you trust to come by and turn them on and off. You can also ask this person to swing by every day for an hour or so to check up on everything and give the impression someone is home.
Cannon Christian is president of Renovation Realty and a licensed real estate broker.