10 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe While Traveling

12/29/2016 10:57 am ET

Vacation is a time for relaxation and tranquility, but it’s human nature to worry about the house you left behind. A home is a huge responsibility and you want to keep it safe even when you are away. The following are 10 tips for keeping your home safe while traveling:

1. ASK SOMEONE TO WATCH YOUR HOUSE. Personally, I don’t feel the need to hire a house sitter for a short trip. My house is able to take care of itself. However, I do let my neighbors know that I’ll be away so they can keep an eye on anything suspicious. It’s nice to get a quick text saying our house is still standing.

2. PUT YOUR MAIL ON HOLD. It takes ten minutes to get online and put your mail on hold. Nothing screams, “No one’s home!” like mail bulging out of a street mailbox. I have delivery start the day we return so it’s there when we get home.

3. DON’T ANNOUNCE IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA. I know it’s exciting to go away and you want to shout it from the rooftops, but it’s really not a good idea to share on social media that your house is going to be vacant for the week. You are welcoming trouble. If you have teenagers, you may want to discuss this with them as well and make it a family rule.

4. UNPLUG EVERYTHING. I go a bit overboard with this one and I’m sure you don’t have to go to the extreme as I do, but I heard one story about a power surge during a storm and that led me to always unplugging everything when I travel. I’m not even sure if it was a true story, but for me it’s better to be safe than sorry.

5. DON’T LET NEWSPAPERS AND PACKAGES PILE UP. Again, a package sitting on your doorstep is a neon blinking sign that no one is home. Ask that kind person that is watching your house to grab any packages they see. If you get a newspaper subscription, put it on hold for the week or ask someone to collect them for you.

6. DON’T LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON THE WHOLE WEEK. There are many different opinions on whether lights should stay on or off while you’re traveling. I feel the safest actions are your normal actions. If you don’t normally leave your outdoor lights on during the day, then maybe it’s not a good idea to do it while you’re gone. The ideal solution is to have a timer.

7. LEAVE YOUR CURTAINS HOW YOU NORMALLY HAVE THEM. Again, just like the lights, I think it’s best to leave your curtains as you normally would. It may be strange to see a house that always has their curtains open suddenly completely drawn tightly shut for a week.

8. SET YOUR HEAT TO A SAFE TEMPERATURE. Although it may be tempting to lower your heat significantly since no one will be home, you will come home to a lot of problems if your pipes burst from freezing while you’re away.

9. HIRE A PLOW COMPANY. If there is a snowstorm and everyone else has their driveways plowed except you, it will definitely tip someone off that no one is home. I used to have my neighbor call me if there was a storm and I’d call a plow guy. Now that I have found someone I trust that plows, I let him know I’ll be gone and he automatically comes if needed.

10. THE OLD ICE AND A QUARTER TRICK. How awful is it when you come home from a trip and see the clock blinking on your microwave and you have no clue how long you lost power for? Was it long enough for all the food to defrost in the freezer or was it just for a few minutes? A great trick is to fill a plastic cup with water and put it in the freezer. After it is frozen solid, place a quarter on top and put it back in the freezer. This way, if the quarter is at the bottom of the cup when you get home, you know everything has defrosted in the freezer and you should not cook it.

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