Life Times Newsletter

Summer 2009
Vol. 11, No. 3



Protecting your home while youíre away

Kandace Fisher, MS
Housing & Environmental
Design Specialist


Many of us are excitedly planning a summer vacation. The days and weeks before a vacation are a thrilling time as we think about relaxing on the beach, hiking in the mountains, or traveling away to visions of stress-free lands. Despite all of the daydreaming, itís important to make sure you think about securing your property before vacation begins. 

Recently, an Arizona manís home was robbed while he was away on vacation. While gone, he posted on his Twitter account that his family was on vacation in Kansas City. He is not sure this is why his house was targeted for robbery, but he thinks itís a likely coincidence. To make sure this does not happen to you, here are a few tips to safeguard your home while youíre away.

   Donít broadcast your vacation plans. Although vacation can be exciting, it is not necessary to let all of your
  acquaintances know of your whereabouts. Instead, save your excitement and share vacation photos with friends when you return.

   Have a trusted friend check on your home. Let a trusted neighbor, friend or family member check on your home daily or as needed. Be sure to provide him/her with a spare key
  and an emergency phone number where you can be reached while youíre away. 

   Make your home look ďlived in.Ē Stop your newspapers and mail delivery, or arrange to have them picked up daily. A full mail box assures thieves youíre gone and becomes a
  target for identity theft. If you will be gone for more than a week, schedule for someone to mow your lawn, rake leaves or shovel snow, if necessary.

   Protect your appliances. Unplug the toaster, microwave, coffee pot, televisions and computers. These appliances draw electricity whether they are on or not. Turn off the water
  supply to fixtures such as washing machines, icemakers, toilets and sinks.  Flooding can occur when hoses are worn, ruptured or there is a leak.

    Adjust the thermostat. According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, one of the easiest things to do, but is easily forgotten, is to adjust the thermostat. The Institute
  suggests lowering your thermostat in colder months. Adjust it to a point
that is warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing, but low enough so you are not heating an empty
  house. In the summer, set your thermostat to 85 degrees. It is also a good idea to turn down your water heater while you are away.

   Secure doors and windows. Make sure all doors, windows, pet entrances and garage doors are securely locked. Deadbolt exterior doors. Invest in a good locking system for
   sliding  glass doors.

Put lights on timers. Consider putting interior and exterior lights on timers or motion sensors. Be sure to set lights on staggered hours to turn lights on and off at different times.

Account for your belongings. Take pictures or videotape items in your home in case they are stolen or damaged. Keep the pictures along with other important documents in a safe deposit box. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies recommends engraving your name and driverís license number on personal belongings such as cameras, televisions and computers in case they are stolen or end up at a pawn shop.





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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller