Vacationers Home Check-List: Everything You Should Know Before You Leave
By: Ian L. White
If you are planning on being away from your home for an extended amount of time, it is important that you secure your home. You will not be able to enjoy your family vacation, concentrate on the business meeting, or feel relaxed while visiting relatives, if the thought of your home being violated is always in the back of your mind. There are many things that you can do before you leave, as well as things you can have arranged to be done by a third party, that will ensure that your home, property and pets are safe.
The most important aspect an owner needs to be concerned with is that their home does not look vacant while they are away. Statistics report that generally a home is burglarized every 12 seconds. It is important that you leave your curtains open when you leave. Closed curtains indicate a vacant home. You can also purchase light timers. They will turn on and off different lights in your home throughout the day until you return from your trip. It is also good to invest in motion sensor lights for the outside. As added protection, you may want to keep a radio on somewhere in the main part of the house. The volume need not be very loud, just loud enough to fool an intruder. It is also good to have an alarm system. Make sure that it is turned on when you leave.
Do not leave house keys under rocks or flower boxes around your home. Make sure they are all removed prior to your departure. Never leave a message on your phone that you are away. That is just asking for an intruder.
You need to also be aware that your lawn can also give signals that you are away and your home is vacant. If you are leaving during the warmer months, clip your lawn prior to your departure. Arrange in advance to have someone come and cut your lawn while you are away, as well. It is also good to cut back plants or shrubs that would provide a good place for an intruder to hide, or lurk behind. If you live in a cold climate and it is winter, be sure that you make arrangements to have someone you trust come and shovel the snow while you are away. Nothing gives a clue that no one is home more than a driveway and side walk that is piled under 6 feet of snow. If it is pool season arrange for someone to clean your pool while you are away.
Make sure that all outside work buildings or sheds are locked. Mowers, bicycles, and tools need to be secured inside. It is important that you do not leave your garage door opener inside any vehicles that will be left on the driveway. You can even arrange to have someone move your vehicles around periodically in your driveway to give your home the lived in look. Check all windows prior to leaving, as well as outside doors. Dead bolts on the doors, and key locks for the windows are the safest. Just make sure that the keys are removed from the window locks before your trip. Do not forget your skylight windows, or the small fanlights that may be in your bathroom. If an area is small enough for a head to fit through, it needs to have a lock on it.
You need to contact your local post office and have all mail kept there until your return. Cancel all newspaper subscriptions, as well. This is not an uncommon practice, and it will ensure that you don't have papers piling up on your walk, or mail spilling out of your box. That is an open invitation to an intruder.
It is also important that you are careful during casual conversation with the clerk at the store, dry cleaners, clubs, etc. Do not let anyone in the general public know that you are planning a trip. You never know who might be listening. It is also important that you do not list your address on your luggage. You would be surprised at how many homes are burglarized because a future burglar saw your address on your luggage at the airport. They simply follow you to the departure gate and ransack your home that evening.
You can contact your local law enforcement office and let them know that you are going to be away. Give them the dates of when you will be leaving and when you will be returning. They will provide a patrol unit to drive by your house every day to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. If your neighborhood has a neighborhood watch program have your home listed as one of the homes that is in need of being watched. It is a good idea to also make an inventory of your valuables, with serial numbers and model numbers where possible. This information comes in handy if you ever have to file an insurance claim due to theft.
It is important that you make adequate arrangements in regards to any pets that you may own. You can board them at a shelter, if need be, though the comfort and care of your pet should always be kept in mind. It will be unsettling to your pet to be separated from you, make sure that their temporary home is as loving and comfortable as possible. No family pet should be kept in a cage for an extended amount of time. Make sure that you are leaving your pet with someone who is an animal lover, and not in the business of kenneling for greed. You should never forget the goldfish in the tank, or the plants in your home. It would be sad to come home to a floating fish and dead house plants. You may want to make prior arrangements to have someone come into your home to take care of these other special family members.
Prior to leaving it is important that you go through the refrigerator and dispose of any products that will have spoiled before you come home. You need to reduce the temperature on the hot water heater to a lower temperature, as well as the thermostat on any central heat and air units that you may have. Make sure that all outside water hoses are disconnected if it is the winter season, it will help to keep your pipes from bursting in extreme cold weather. It is also important that you check all smoke detectors to verify that they are in working order.
An option that you may want to check into that will give you peace of mind is a house sitter. This is a person that comes in and takes care of all the above listed things and stays at your home while you are away. Your pets will be able to stay in their own environment, the plants will be watered, the pool cleaned, the mail checked, the lawn will be mowed, etc. The house sitter's voice will be heard on the end of the telephone line when a future burglar calls to check to see if someone is home. It will be the house sitter that they see coming and going from your home on a regular basis if your house is under surveillance by a future burglar. The presence of the house sitter is the number one burglar deterrent.
A house sitter can also provide invaluable services like forwarding faxes to you if you run a home business and an urgent matter needs to be dealt with. They can also provide immediate attention to your home if there is ever an emergency. House sitters are the best thing you can do in regards to your pets. They can take your furry friends for their scheduled checkups, and tend to them if they get sick or hurt. They can also bathe them, feed them and love them until you get home. You can also leave a grocery list with your house sitter. When you return home, you will have a pantry and refrigerator stocked full of food, and you will not have to worry about that dreaded chore upon your return. A house sitter can also be in charge of getting any needed prearranged servicing done on your vehicles, or your home, while you are away. Above all else, the main service that a house sitter provides is that you can call home and see how your home is doing.
There is no greater feeling than to have peace of mind and to be able to enjoy your time away from home. The only feeling that can match that is coming home and finding that your home is still intact, your pets are well, and that your valuable are where you left them. You cannot leave home without having someone watch over your home. The day of everyone leaving their front doors unlocked are over. Make sure that you do everything you can to assure that your home, pets and possessions are well-protected while you are away.
Ian L. White specializes in helping people who are interested in finding a house sitter in their town, or for more information about the benefits of house sitting. To find out about these services, visit http://www.housecarers.com/ today.
Registration is free for homeowners and a free trial is offered to House sitters.