Protecting Your Home While You're Traveling during the Holidays

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The holidays provide a chance to relax and visit with your loved ones. By following these tips, you can spend more time enjoying your family instead of worrying about what’s going on at home.

Tip #1: Make Sure You Lock Everything Up
Before you leave for the holidays, make sure everything inside and outside of your home is locked up tight. Believe or not, 30 percent of burglars enter homes through unlocked doors and windows. Before leaving, check through your visible windows to see if you can spot any expensive items, such as jewelry and electronics, and move them out of the way if possible (or impair the vision of them in some way). If you have a house alarm, be sure to set it. Finally, any credit or debit cards you don’t want to take with you, consider locking them in a safe.

Tip #2: Light It Up
If you have timers on your lights at home, turn a few of them on to create the illusion that someone is home. Set your outdoor lights on timers so your home and yard are well lit at night. Be sure to arrange with a neighbor or friend to collect your mail and newspapers, or you can contact the post office or delivery service to suspend delivery until you return home.

Tip #3: Don’t Advertise That You’re Gone
Don’t advertise the fact that you are leaving town by changing your voicemail messages or posting all of your plans on various social media sites, such as Twitter or Facebook. What you should do is let a trusted neighbor or friend check in on your house periodically if you plan on being away for more than a few days. Your mind will be at ease knowing that your home is secure and safe.

Tip #4: Protect Your Home Against the Weather
Seasonal storms can threaten your home while you are away. Even minor flooding can cost you thousands of dollars. Before leaving, check around your house and inspect all of your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they are clear of debris and drain water properly. Check your garage doors and make sure everything is intact, especially the weather-stripping. You should also consider bringing in or securing any outdoor furniture that could be tossed in high winds.

Tip #5: Safeguard Your Infrastructure
Before leaving your home, make sure all nonessential electronics and appliances are unplugged, or just shut off the power strips they are plugged into. In the event of a power surge, you don’t want to take any chances with causing a fire in your home. Additionally, you may want to turn off or unplug other nonessential appliances (e.g., washing machine, dishwasher, etc.). This is also a great way to save energy while away for the holidays.