Away from Home? Take these Simple Steps to Protect your Property
Planning a vacation is an exciting time, but it’s important not to forget about the safety and security of your home while you’re away. With the holiday season approaching, the risk of break-ins and theft increases. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your home and give yourself peace of mind.
From securing windows and doors to utilizing smart home technology, we’ll cover everything you need to know to ensure your home is protected. So, before you pack your bags and head out on your well-deserved break, let’s dive into the world of home insurance and discover how to safeguard your property.
Section 1: Securing Your Windows and Doors
One of the first steps to ensuring the safety of your home is to secure all windows and doors. Here are some effective ways to secure your windows and doors:
1.1 Locking Mechanisms
Check that all windows and doors in your home are locked, including the basement, garage, and shed. Don’t overlook any potential access points for intruders.
1.2 Security Bars and Reinforcements
Consider installing high-quality locks on all windows and doors to enhance security. To further fortify your home’s defence, consider installing security bars or reinforcements on the main floor and basement windows. These additions make it difficult for burglars to slide open the windows and gain entry.
Section 2: Making Your Home Look Lived-In
An empty home can be an open invitation for burglars. By making your home look live-in, you can significantly reduce the risk of break-ins. Here are some tips to create the illusion of an occupied home:
2.1 Automatic Timers for Lights
Set automatic timers to turn on your indoor and outdoor lights in the evening. Mimicking your regular lighting patterns will make it appear like someone is home. Additionally, consider using timers that can turn on the TV or radio for a few hours each day to create the impression of activity.
2.2 Snow Removal
An unkempt exterior can signal that no one is home, making your property an easy target for burglars. Moreover, regular snow removal helps prevent liability claims from slip-and-fall incidents.
If it’s a white Christmas, you’ll also want to have someone shovel after each snowfall to make it look like you’re home and prevent any liability claims that could come up if someone slipped on your sidewalk.
Section 3: Avoid Advertising Your Valuables
Leaving evidence of expensive gifts or valuable items outside your home is essentially an open invitation for thieves. To avoid attracting unwanted attention, follow these precautions:
3.1 Discreet Disposal of Packaging
Dispose of empty gift bags and boxes discreetly to avoid advertising the presence of valuable items inside your home. Place them in black garbage bags before leaving them outdoors to conceal their contents. The same goes for items in your vehicle, as a car filled with gifts can be an enticing target for thieves.
3.2 Social Media Caution
While it’s tempting to share your holiday excitement on social media, be wary of broadcasting your absence or showcasing valuable possessions. Posting about your vacation can alert potential burglars that your home is unoccupied and ripe for theft. Save your vacation pictures for when you return to ensure the safety of your property.
Section 4: Mail and Newspaper Management
To maintain the illusion of an occupied home and protect your sensitive information, take the following steps:
4.1 Mail Forwarding
Arrange for mail forwarding to ensure your mailbox remains empty while you’re away. This not only prevents the accumulation of mail but also ensures you don’t miss any important bills or letters. Contact your local post office or visit their website to set up mail forwarding services.
4.2 Newspaper Deliveries
Cancel newspaper deliveries for the duration of your vacation. A stack of newspapers at your doorstep is a telltale sign that no one is home. By halting deliveries, you can avoid drawing unnecessary attention to your property.
Section 5: Home Insurance Coverage for Your Valuables
While taking preventative measures is crucial, accidents and theft can still occur. That’s where home insurance comes into play, here’s what you need to know:
6.1 Understanding Your Policy
Review your home insurance policy to understand the coverage it provides for your valuables. Most policies have special limits for jewelry, watches, art, and collectibles. The coverage provided may be lower than you expect. If your collection exceeds these limits, consider purchasing additional coverage to protect your valuable items adequately. In addition, ensure you have a solid record of the special belongings. Pictures or copies of the receipt are a great way to do this.
6.2 Updating Your Coverage
Periodically review and update your home insurance coverage, especially before going on vacation. Ensure that your policy reflects the current value of your home and possessions. Ask your broker about what are some common losses they have seen on homes and how your policy would respond to give you a better idea of your coverage. This is a great way to determine if you’re comfortable with your deductible and coverage limits should a loss occur.
Section 6: Drain the Pipes and Empty Appliances
To prevent potential damage while you’re away, it’s essential to take steps to protect your home’s plumbing and appliances. Here’s what you need to do:
7.1 Drain the Pipes
If you plan to be away for an extended period, consider shutting off your home’s main water supply and draining the pipes. This helps prevent freezing and potential bursting, which can lead to costly water damage.
7.2 Empty the Fridge, Freezer, and Garbage Cans
Empty your fridge and freezer before leaving to avoid any surprises upon your return. Power outages or malfunctions can render the appliances useless, resulting in spoiled food and unpleasant odours. Additionally, remember to empty your garbage cans to maintain cleanliness and prevent unpleasant odours that may attract rodents into your home.
Section 7: Test Backup Systems and Alarms
Ensuring the functionality of backup systems and alarms is crucial to keeping your home safe and secure. Take the following steps to test and maintain these systems:
8.1 Test Sump Pump Backup Battery
If you have a sump pump, test the backup battery to ensure it functions correctly. Power outages during the melting and heating season can leave you vulnerable to flooding or sewer backups.
Most sump pumps rely on electricity to operate, so if your power goes out during a heavy rainfall or the spring thaw (when you need your sump pump the most), you’ll be out of luck.
8.2 Install Monitored Alarms
Consider installing monitored alarms on essential systems in your home, such as your furnace. These alarms can alert you if your furnace stops working or if there is a power outage. Being notified of potential issues allows you to take immediate action and prevent further damage or discomfort.
Section 8: Neighborly Assistance
Building a strong relationship with your neighbours can be invaluable when it comes to home security. Here’s how your neighbours can help keep your home safe:
9.1 Trusted Neighbor Check-Ins
Ask a trusted and responsible neighbour to keep an eye on your property while you’re away. Request that they walk through your home every few days to ensure there are no signs of trouble. Provide them with emergency contact numbers, such as a family member whom you’ve given authority to contact your insurance broker in the event of a claim.
Note: Your insurance company likely has a few requirements you’ll need to follow when you’re going to be away from home (and they may include a guideline for how often someone needs to come in and check on your house).
Section 9: Utilizing Smart Home Technology
The advancements in smart home technology have made it easier than ever to protect your home remotely. Here are some ways you can leverage smart devices for enhanced security:
10.1 Smart Doorbells and Cameras
Install smart doorbells and cameras to monitor activity around your property. These devices provide real-time alerts, video footage, and the ability to communicate with visitors remotely. Having visible security measures can deter potential burglars and provide you with peace of mind.
10.2 Smart Home Security Systems
Invest in a smart home security system that integrates various devices, such as sensors, cameras, and alarms. These systems can be controlled and monitored through your smartphone, allowing you to keep tabs on your home even when you’re far away.
Section 10: Emergency Preparedness
While prevention is essential, it’s crucial to be prepared for emergencies. Here are some steps to ensure you’re ready for unexpected situations:
11.1 Emergency Contact List
Create a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities, your insurance broker, and trusted neighbours. Keep this list easily accessible in case of emergencies.
11.2 Insurance Policy Documents
Make digital copies of your home insurance policy documents and store them securely online. This ensures you can access your policy details and contact information even if physical documents are lost or damaged.
Protecting your home while you’re on vacation is essential for your peace of mind. By implementing the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, you can significantly reduce the risk of break-ins, theft, and damage to your property. With a well-protected home and comprehensive insurance coverage, you can relax and enjoy your vacation, knowing that your property is safe and secure.
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