Summer is here! You’ve made your plans, bought your travel insurance, packed your bags, and now you’re ready to fly out that door. There are a few steps you should take before you leave to make sure your home is safe and sound on your return.
- Tell a trusted friend or neighbour your plans
Having a trusted friend or neighbour check on your home while you’re away is a great idea. Not only can they water your plants and keep an eye on your house, they can gather any mail or flyers that gather at your door to help it look like you’re home. If you’re going to be away for an extended period, consider asking them to do a little lawn maintenance. An overgrown lawn is a tell-tale sign no one is home.
- Don’t tell everyone your plans
While telling a few trusted friends where you’re going is wise, do not broadcast your plans to the world. You never know who might be listening. This is especially true for social media. Resist the urge to post about where you are while on vacation—you can’t be 100% sure who’s seeing the posts or what they might do with the information. If you have children who are active on social media, be sure to send along the message as well. Someone in their social media network might take advantage of the information and invade your home. Wait until you’re home to post those amazing pictures, or use email instead to share your experiences.
- Tidy and clean the house
Coming back to a clean home after a long vacation is not only a wonderful feeling, but it can also help you identify if anyone has broken into your home. Make sure to also clean the exterior of the house, stowing away any tools, equipment, or valuables that could either be used by burglars to invade your home or easily taken by thieves. While you’re tidying, bring in those extra set of keys you “hide” under mats or planters outside. Thieves know where to look for these and you don’t want to make it easier for them to steal your possessions.
- Stop mail delivery
Put a temporary hold on your mail and your newspaper delivery. A pile of newspapers on the porch is a clear sign no one is home. Also, make sure that if you’re an online shopper to not order anything that will be delivered while you’re gone. A package sitting out on the porch is a temptation and your items could easily be stolen or damaged.
- Unplug the electronics
Unplugging your electronics protects them from potential surge damage. You could also invest in a surge protector but unplugging them has the added benefit of saving you money on your electricity bill.
- Make it look like someone’s home
Stopping your mail or having a neighbour pick it up is one great step in making your home look like someone is living in it while you’re away. Some other tricks include having a neighbour park their second car in your driveway; setting your lights, radio, and even television on a timer; and having a neighbour bring your garbage bins to the curb or putting one of their bins on your driveway on pick-up day. And while it may seem counterintuitive, resist the urge to close the blinds and drapes. It can be a signal to burglars that no one is home, particularly if it is out of the ordinary for you.
- Stow away valuables
Put your valuables in a safe, a safety deposit box, or some other secure spot before you leave on your travels. Make an inventory of your valuables by taking pictures so if something does happen, you have a list to give to your insurance provider. Also, if you’re leaving your car at home, make sure to remove any documents or valuables you might keep in there. If you’re leaving your car at the airport, take out the portable GPS. Someone could break into your car and use the GPS to find your home.
- Lock the doors and windows
Before you leave, double check that you’ve locked your doors and windows. If you have sliding doors, insert a metal or wooden rod in the track so that if someone picks the lock, they still won’t be able to open the door.
- Inform your insurance company
Some insurance companies have limits on the length of time you can be absent and still protected under your home insurance policy. Others require that homeowners arrange to have someone check on their home while they’re away. When you make that call for travel insurance, also check in with your broker to make sure you are still covered while
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