Each year, millions of people plan vacations, taking care to protect valuables and money as they travel. Millions also travel to vacation homes or seasonal properties. But how many remember to protect those properties when they’re gone?
A 1/8-inch crack in a water pipe can cause thousands of dollars of damage left to leak for a week. A wind-storm can mean broken windows and unprotected keepsakes. An open window can be an invitation to burglars. It pays to follow a few simple steps to protect your home from natural disasters and thieves when the home is empty. For instance:
- Adjust the thermostat, but don’t turn it off. In colder climates, set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees to keep pipes from freezing. In warmer climates, set the thermostat to 85 degrees to prevent heat and humidity from damaging furniture.
- Consider draining pipes if you plan to leave for an extended period. Seek the advice of a professional plumber.
- If you choose to leave the water on, turn off the supply to individual fixtures.
- Unplug all electrical appliances. This includes the garage door opener, computer, television and stereo equipment.
- Never leave diswashers, clotheswashers or dryers running.
- Make sure bushes near the home are trimmed to below the window sill to prevent hiding places. Have obviously dead or damaged tree limbs cut back to limit wind damage danger.
- Set automatic timers on lights, televisions and stereos to make it look like someone is home.
- Consider asking a neighbor to park in the driveway overnight to discourage burglars. Ask neighbors to mow, take in the garbage and shovel snow if possible.
- Close and lock all windows, doors, skylights and vents.
- Stop mail service and newspaper deliveries.
- Request vacation checks from the local police department.
- Leave emergency contact information with a friend or neighbor.
- If you must leave a key behind, try a lock box. Avoid common hiding places near the door.
- Install motion detection lights.
Returning from vacation always means lots to get done. Make sure your property is protected while you are gone.