When you are gone, you will want to top off your gas tank if it's cold so your tank doesn't freeze. But if you are leaving your automobile unattended for several months, you may want to either put some fuel stabilizer in it for the time you are gone, or give your keys to a trusted friend or family member run it every so often.
One cannot be too careful when you leave your belongings behind, especially if you live in a bad part of town or in cities like New York, Chicago or Milwaukee. Even if you live in smaller towns nowadays, it may be important to install an alarm for every day safety. So, if you are going on vacation, this extra precaution may be just what you need to calm your anxiety while you are away.
Most of us are guilty of this. I know I had to climb in my front window more than once when I first bought my house because I locked myself out. So I hid a key. The truth is that most burglars know this is what most people do, so they will look for one near your door. Before you leave, use this key to give to a a family member or trusted neighbor to check on your house. But make certain you ask for it back immediately upon your return.
Contact your credit cards or banking institutions
When you live in a cold climate such as the northern USA, it is important to protect your pipes from freezing. Make sure the water heating system is not turned off during this time. If you are gone for an extended period, you may want to have someone come in and run the water for a while. When I was living along Lake Michigan and was house-sitting for my sister, I had to return every few days to do this during a particularly cold spell.
Put a hold on your mail and newspaper or have family pick it up for you.
Protect your car
Perhaps invest in an alarm for your house if you live in a risky area or are overly concerned.
Take care of the obvious.
Lock all doors and windows
Keep up on summer and winter yard maintenance.
Set a programmable thermostat to lower your heat or air conditioning usage and remember to change the battery before you leave. Keeping your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter will help plants and pipes, as well as keep the cost down while you are gone.
Timed lights are inexpensive and quick to set up. You can get them at any hardware store and set at an appropriate time, when you would normally turn on your lights for the time of year when you plan to be gone, will make it appear that someone is home.
Disconnecting your electronics by pulling out the plugs will save on the electric bills of appliances that run on a constant basis. For items that you may want to keep plugged in or need to keep running, you may want to install a power surge protector to protect against things like storms or lightening strikes. I remember our home being struck by lightening when I was young, and although it was covered by insurance, I remember that we had to replace all of the appliances that were plugged in; a real nightmare for my parents.
This should be done with your important papers and your valuable jewelry on a regular basis anyway. A small safe placed in the back of a closet is a perfect place to hide your home papers, will, your diamonds or anything else that you value while you are away.
If you know and trust your neighbors, let them know you will out of town. They can keep an eye out for suspicious behavior happening around your home and alert you. They can also be a point of contact should something happen. My brother is one of my close neighbors, so he and his wife look after my place when I am not around. But should they be away, my neighbor across the hall is always a trusty backup. At any rate leave a key with a friend or family member. ...
Lock up valuables in a safe.
I live in an apartment complex with my back door feet from the management building. They can always see what is going on in my building. However, even though I am within a few feet of their door, I still tell the management if I intend to be gone over two weeks. It saves me from needless worry and protects my interests and possessions.
Lock or disconnect your garage door.
I have done this in the past when I didn't have anyone to look after my mail. It just takes a minute to fill out a form and you are covered until you get back. Lately, I have another pick it up when I am away for weeks at a time so that my bills are paid in a timely manner.
Use a timed light for your home.
Your credit card companies and banking institution may flag your account if they start seeing all of these new charges from Timbuktu. Let them know you are traveling and you won’t run into locked cards and finding yourself suddenly without cash. Your bank may also have daily spending limits or withdraw limits that you may want temporarily lifted while you are on vacation as well. Whenever I travel I always let my bank know one to two weeks ahead of time so they know my charges are legitimate.
This is something we are all guilty of from time to time. If you wish to post items about your trip, do what I did on my last one and create a group of friends you trust and post only to them. That way you stay in touch with those you care about, let them know what you are doing and nobody else will know that you are out of town.
This might not seem like a big thing, but it can be a red flag to thieves that the owner is away and that your house is an easy target. If you do not have a regular lawn mower or snow shoveler, hire someone for the time that you are gone and have them bill you for the times they worked. Living in Wisconsin, we know how irregular rain and snow can be.
If you are renting, let your building management know.
Keep a low profile on social media.
There are some things that you’ll want to do before you leave on vacation to protect your home and possessions. A little extra work will help to make your trip one that you will remember for years to come instead of worrying while you're away. Many of these are just common sense and will make it appear you have not left, but are going about your daily life. While I was working at the last job of my career I owned a home, but now I live in an apartment, so I am aware that there are things that you may have to consider with each.
This month's blog will help you consider both situations and ways to protect your home and your valuables when you are on the road or another country.
Disconnect your electronics or install a power surge protector.
Disconnecting a garage door is a bit much for most people, but if you live in an area that is unsafe, this might add a bit of extra security. Otherwise lock your garage door and double check it, as well as the inside door before you leave.
Let neighbors and family know.
Protect your pipes
Set your programmable thermostat
Don't leave a hide away key.