HOME SWEET HOME: Keep your home safe while on winter vacation


HOME SWEET HOME: Keep your home safe while on winter vacation

SPONSORED BY STATE FARM

If your family is looking to take a post-Christmas vacation to get rid of all the winter blues, it’s important to take measures to protect your home so you can enjoy the trip without worrying about what you left behind. An empty house is an easy target for burglars, so don’t advertise your absence. Below are some State Farm-approved tips to protecting your home while on vacation:

  • Have your mail held and stop newspaper deliveries. The post office can hold your mail until you return or you can forward it to your winter location.
  • Secure windows and doors. Help keep your home untouched by installing secure locks on all windows and doors.
  • Outdoor lighting. Make sure there are bright outdoor lights and time them to turn on at sundown. Make it appear that someone’s home by using lights on random timers.
  • Create a home inventory. A home inventory can simplify filing an insurance claim if a robbery or accident does happen while you are away.
  • Don’t advertise your travels. Don’t mention your absence on social media and wait until you return to post those travel pictures.
  • Unplug unnecessary appliances. Unplugging TVs, coffee makers, and small appliances helps protect against electrical fires or power surges.
  • Hide the “hide-a-way” key and disable remote key entries. You won’t be needing them while you are away.
  • Enlist the neighbors. Ask a trusted neighbor to monitor your property while you’re away and to inform you about suspicious activity, collect any flyers that are left on your door, and possibly park their car in your driveway periodically.
  • Snow removal. Hire a snow removal service to take care of your sidewalk and driveway.
  • DIY home security or alarm services. Some apps connect to your home security system and alert you of changes. Others connect your mobile phone with a security camera or webcam to provide remote surveillance.
  • Consider shutting off water to appliances. Turn off the water to washing machines and dishwashers to avoid them leaking. Also ensure your garden hose is detached.

Problems that start small in an unattended home can get serious if they’re not addressed. You can ward them off with a little preparation.

  • Prevent Frozen Pipes. Add extra insulation around pipes located in the attic, basement or crawlspace and keep the thermostat set at 55 degrees or above. Also, change the battery in the thermostat. Some thermostats offer remote control so you can check and change your home’s temperature while you’re away. Install a whole house water leak detection system that will alert you in the event of a leak.   You can then schedule service from afar. This helpful guide has more tips for preventing frozen pipes and water damage in your home.
  • Clean gutters and trim trees. Cut down any dead limbs or trees near your house that could fall under heavy snow or ice. Clean all gutters to help drain away ice melt, possibly preventing water from building up and causing ice dams on your roof.
  • Prevent Pests. Throw out any food not in an airtight metal or glass container. Then empty, clean and defrost your refrigerator and freezer. Also inspect your home’s foundation, inside and out, and seal any openings.

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