Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What to do before leaving home for a few days

Here are some tips on what you should do to vacation-proof your home before you leave.
  • Don't tell everyone you're going away.
  • Arrange for a trustworthy, nearby friend or neighbour to check on the home while you're away. Not only should they collect your mail every day (thieves see full mailboxes as a sign you're not home), they should go inside and make sure everything's OK. It may surprise you to know that your home insurance may not cover any mishaps that happen while you're away unless the home is being completely checked almost daily. Get your sitters to vary the lighting in the home to make it look like someone's home. It's better if they vary the time they check the house too, just in case it's being watched. Tell the sitter to keep watching the home until you return, just in case your return is delayed. Remind the sitter about your departure and return times the day you're leaving, or the night before. Make sure they know you're back so they know to stop watching the home as well.
  • If you're expecting parcels while you're away, get someone to collect them.
  • I believe that curtains and blinds should not be left open. It's too easy for someone to look inside and see that the home is empty.
  • Close and lock all windows. Horizontal sliding windows should have security bars for extra protection. Sliding patio doors should have security locks that can't be defeated with a little effort from the outside.
  • Adjust the heat and/or air conditioning down. There's no point heating or cooling the home to normal temperature while empty.
  • Turn your computers off. Unattended computers not only waste electricity, they've been known to spontaneously combust since most owners don't bother cleaning the insides out of the years' worth of dust. Dust is combustible.
  • Just before leaving is a good time to clean the toilets. Unused toilets tend to be perfect petri dishes for bacteria.
  • Empty and throw the garbage. The last thing you want to come home to is an indoor compost pile.
  • If there's any food on the floor or counters, best to clean that up. Otherwise, ants might do the job for you.
  • Run the last dishwasher load. A dirty load closed up tight for days is going to reek once you return.
  • Do the laundry. You're going to be bringing enough dirty clothes home when you return, so having a lot waiting at home to begin with is only going to make the task longer. Besides, don't you want some clean clothes to come home to?
  • Empty the fridge of anything that will expire while you're away. This will prompt you to buy fresh milk, etc. when you return.
  • Turn the hot water heater down to the vacation setting. There's no point heating the water to normal temperature while the home is empty.
  • Turn off the fireplaces, close the flues and if you're gone for more than a few days, maybe even turn the pilot light off.
  • Turn the water off at the entry valve. This will prevent a whole slew of problems, including leaks, leaky faucets, faulty toilet valves, vandals turning your outside taps on, flooding, and so on. Just make sure to let the sitter know so they don't flush the toilet with no water on.

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