The holidays are a time for family and friends to get together. For many, this means traveling long distances and even staying several days away from home. If you plan on taking a trip this year, make sure to keep your home safe while you are away.
Go to the post office and put a hold on your mail while you are going to be gone. Sale papers take up lots of space, and you don’t want your overflowing mailbox giving any would be crooks a heads up that you are not home. You also don’t want that package that didn’t arrive before you left to sit on the doorstep for a week. Don’t forget to call the newspaper and stop those from coming too.
If you trust your neighbor, have them keep a look out for anything that may signal you are away. Sometimes there are free magazines, phone books, papers, etc. that get tossed in the front yard that you don’t subscribe to. Have your neighbor keep an eye out for those as well.
In an age where every movement is captured on social media, this is a time when you should keep it to a minimum. It is hard to resist posting all the pictures of ugly sweaters, feet at the beach, etc, but you really should wait until you get home to post those. At the very least, try not to create a countdown timer on your social media with daily posts like “Just 3 more days until I get my tan on at the beach”. The bad guys can see your social media posts too. Even if your page is private, one like from a sketchy friend from high school opens you up to all their friends, and their friends, and so on.
I promise, the world will keep spinning with eager excitement over seeing all the presents you received until you return from your trip. Though that is almost as bad of an idea as leaving the new 150″ TV box on your curb. You might as well put an ad in the paper that your house is where the good stuff is. Cut the serial numbers off the boxes and take the large boxes to your local recycle center just to be safe.
Make sure your plumbing stays clean, flowing, and smelling like a dream. We live in Kentucky, where the hard water makes great bourbon, but leaves nasty stains in your toilet and sinks if you leave them unattended. Pour a half cup of bleach in your toilet bowls while you are away so those stains don’t build up. If you have a leaky faucet, turn it off at the wall so you don’t get those nasty mineral deposits on the sink.
If you have a garbage disposal, pour a half cup vinegar and some ice cubes in it and then run it for a minute. You don’t want any rotting food smell filling the house while you are gone.
Most homes can keep the pipes from freezing by keeping the heat set low. If your home has exposed pipes that are prone to freezing, make sure you leave a faucet trickling so you don’t come home to busted pipes.
Speaking of the heater, make sure to turn it down. You will see some savings from keeping it set below the normal “comfort zone”. Just make sure to keep your plants and animals alive.
Another big energy saving tip is to lower your water heater setting. If it has a vacation mode, use it. If not, set it just low enough to keep it on.
Batten down the hatches. Make sure all your windows and doors are closed and locked. If the kids keep a spare key in the landscaping rocks, make sure to grab it. Many of your key hiding spots are items sold at major stores and are easily recognized by thieves.
Do a quick safety check of the house, including the smoke detectors and anything else that needs batteries / periodic maintenance. Leaves in the gutters, loose grill covers, open umbrellas can all cause damage if there is inclement weather while you are gone.
Know the hot ticket items. Jewelry, guns, electronics, etc. are hot items for thieves to go after. Keep them locked up in a large safe (one that cannot simply be picked up and carried off). If possible, you may think about taking them offsite to a safety deposit box while you are gone.
Tell your security company you are going out of town. If you should have an alarm while you are gone, there is no need for them to contact you first. They will need to have the police or fire dispatched immediately. Losing 5 minutes for them to go through the call list before contacting the authorities can make a huge difference.
If you do not have a security company (and even if you do), you still want to make it look like you are home. Setting lights on timers has been an age old method for doing this. Perhaps you even have a home assistant now (Google Assistant, Alexa, iHome). You can set your timers to automatically come on. Some of the devices even have motion and temperature sensors to come on and notify you when those things change.
While we are talking about lights, take a moment to actually turn off and unplug your electronics (not your modem or router if you have connected devices). Even when they are off, your computer, laptop, TV, and most any other appliance draws some power while it is plugged in. You will save a little more dough by unplugging these items.
If you have a trustworthy neighbor and they are already keeping an eye on the house while you are gone, give them an emergency contact list. Don’t rely on them to use Facebook to find you. Give them all your cell numbers so they can reach you in case something needs to be done at the house. You can give them the code to the garage door or leave them a key if you trust them enough.
Don’t rely on a friend who is coming by once a day to “check on the house” to be your lifeline to the home for emergencies. Chances are that things are too late to fix by the time they report them to you.
Holidays are a wonderful time of the year, and vacations are even better. Just make sure you protect your biggest asset while you are out having too much eggnog. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from RE/MAX Executive Group, Inc. Travel safely.
Next Year is Your Turn
Searching for a home you can host next year’s holiday celebration in? Contact us today and we will help you find your perfect entertaining home.