Summertime means getting away for a much-desired vacation. Follow these steps to identify some of the risks to unoccupied homes and pointing out steps necessary to mitigate them:
Don’t broadcast your whereabouts. Do not reveal your plans or itineraries on social media and do not provide running online commentary of your travel activities. Warn children not to share vacation or travel plans with friends. Do not leave voice messages on home or cell phones that say when you’ll be away.
Make a home look occupied. Since looks can be deceiving, clients should be reminded to make their home appear as if they are in it. Here’s a checklist:
- If a car or cars are normally left outside, have someone periodically drive them or park them a bit differently.
- Make sure that lawn mowing and watering continue as scheduled.
- Use timers on exterior lights to go on and off at the usual times.
Secure the home and its contents. Security systems can only do so much; clients should take a few extra safety precautions when they plan to be away:
- Add security lights with motion sensors to scare off potential burglars.
- Close all window latches and put a secondary blocking device such as a wooden dowel in place to ensure windows cannot be opened.
- Let the security company know when the home will be vacant.
- Use a deadbolt to secure doors.
Minimize the potential for damage.
- Shut off water lines.
- Make sure washing machines, dryers and dishwashers are turned off.
- Unplug small appliances and electronics to prevent damage from a power surge.
Ask a trusted neighbor to look in on things while you are away, and have the neighbor alert you (and the police) if there is anything suspicious. A house-sitting arrangement may be worth considering for a particularly long absence.