Murphy’s Law for travelers: If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong while you’re on vacation—which is arguably the worst time a household calamity can strike. Coming home from your honeymoon, African safari or Mediterranean cruise can be gloomy. But returning from a memorable journey and learning something has gone seriously wrong at home can be downright devastating.
How to Keep Your Home Safe While Away
To make matters worse, a house or apartment left empty while its owners are traveling is a tempting target for criminals. I don’t want to scare you—or leave you fearing for your treasured belongings while basking on a Caribbean beach. But it’s imperative that every traveler take certain key steps to keep his or her home safe and sound while seeing the world. Basic preventative measures (which take only minutes to complete) can work wonders to help you keep your home safe from power surges, broken pipes, home invasions, and more while you’re away.
Ask a Pet Sitter to Help
A simple, albeit crucial, way to gain peace of mind while traveling is to ask a pet sitter to keep an eye on your house while you’re away. They can stop by the house up to 4 times per day (if you have pets) or once a day (without pets) to make sure the house looks secure, bring in mail, take out garbage, open/close blinds & turn on/off lights.
Don’t Tip Off Criminals on the Web
In a world where it seems everyone is blabbing about their business on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to stop and think: Who exactly is reading this stuff? The anonymity of the internet can encourage us to share personal information without fully realizing that there may be hundreds of complete strangers receiving our daily musings. Would you announce to a crowd that you will be leaving your house unattended for two weeks this Janurary? If not, then you should think twice about posting your detailed vacation plans on social media—especially if that information is visible to internet users other than your friends and family (and it probably is).
Be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail too. Callers don’t need to know that you’re not home—they just need to know that you can’t come to the phone right now.
Curtains Closed—or Open?
Before you leave for vacation, you may decide to close your curtains to prevent people from peering inside your home to see whether you’re there. However, closed curtains also stop those who aim to help—the police, your neighbors or friends—from seeing inside your house. So what’s your best bet? Leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you’re home, since noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around anymore—especially if your curtains are uncharacteristically left closed for two weeks. Move expensive items, like jewelry or computers, out of plain sight if they’re visible from the window.
The Lights Are on But No One’s Home
Don’t leave your lights on at home throughout your entire vacation in an effort to make it look like someone is in the house. Your electric bill will end up more costly than your mortgage, and house lights blazing throughout the night might look a bit suspicious.
Instead, purchase a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule. Criminals keeping an eye on your house will notice lights flipping on and off, and will probably assume someone is doing the flipping.
Stop Your Mail
Either place a “stop” order on mail and newspapers or arrange to have a pet sitter pick up your mail while you’re away. Otherwise, a week’s worth of papers piled on your front step could signal to criminals that this particular homeowner is out of town. It’s easy to put your mail on hold at USPS.com.
Put That in Your Pipe
If you live in a cold region of the world and your pipes are in danger of freezing during winter, you have another compelling reason to leave a house key with a friend while you’re traveling. Ask your pet sitter to stop by and check your faucets. If he or she turns on a faucet and only a few drops of water come out, your pipes may be frozen.
Take other precautions like making sure your pipes are properly insulated and keeping your heat on while you’re away. Show your key-bearing companion the location of the water main shut-off in case a pipe breaks.
Pull the Plug
Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven, and other appliances to protect them from power surges. This will help you save power as well; many appliances draw energy even when they’re turned off.
Remove Your Spare Key
That plastic rock isn’t fooling anyone. If a criminal figures out you’re away on vacation, it’s likely that he or she will check your porch for a spare key. So reach under the mat, into the mailbox, above the door frame, or into the flower pot and remove your spare key before you leave on your vacation.
C & G Pet Sitting offers you peace of mind while you’re away for several days or weeks. Whether you are a pet parent or not, we are the perfect option for your travels!