During the winter months it feels so nice to get away from the cold weather for a vacation. You put a lot of time and effort into making sure you got the best deals on your travel reservations, so you could have the perfect trip, but did you put even a fraction of that time into making sure your home will be safe when you return? Sadly, the majority of people fail to take even the simplest steps to prepare their home before leaving on vacation. Of course your Alberta home insurance has you covered, but taking a few basic precautions can help to protect your home and belongings from burglary or accident.
Take precautions to discourage intruders
By making your home appear secure and occupied, you can discourage most burglary attempts. Take a few minutes to think about how your home appears inside and out, night and day, and then consider these suggestions.
- Stop newspapers, mail, and any other deliveries that will be obvious to passersby. This can often be handled with a quick phone call or online form.
- Hire someone to remove snow from your walkway, porch, and driveway. If you aren’t expecting snow while you are on vacation, find someone to rake leaves or mow your lawn.
- Find out if your police department will do a vacation watch while you are away. Notify them of the dates you will be gone, and let them know if anyone else will be there.
- Have a friend, relative, or neighbour stop by frequently to bring pick up any deliveries that haven’t been stopped, water your plants, and do other things that make your home look occupied. You might even have them move the car out of the garage, or if you keep your car in your driveway, park it on a different side.
- Have a security system installed. While monitoring fees vary, taking the time to get estimates might be worth the effort and give you a little peace of mind. A home security system might even save you money on your homeowners insurance. If you do have one installed, be sure to check your Alberta home insurance company for possible reductions to your premium.
- Lock all doors and windows and unplug your garage door opener. If your home has sliding glass doors, place a wooden or metal rod in the track to keep it from being forced open. It only takes a few minutes to check the whole house before you leave.
- Put your indoor and outdoor lights on timers, so your home isn’t completely dark at night. Installing motion sensors on outside lights near doors or windows can discourage anyone from getting too close.
- Leave curtains and blinds open, but remove valuables from plain sight. Closed curtains give an intruder the privacy they need to go through your home unnoticed.
- Don’t leave a message on your answering machine informing callers that you are away. Likewise, only let those you trust know your vacation plans. This includes social networking websites. Why inform a friend of a friend that your home is an easy target? Post those amazing vacation pictures after you return.
Prepare for the unexpected
While you might think first of reducing the risk of burglaries, accidents can happen while you are away that could be even more costly. Most electrical, fire, or water damage is covered by your Alberta home insurance, but why take the risk?
- Unplug everything that doesn’t need power while you are away. Even though everything is off, the circuit is still live and could lead to disaster. Double-check for things like curling irons that produce heat and could cause a fire.
- Turn down the temperature on your hot water heater and furnace. This will save you energy and money.
- If you are going to be gone for more than a week, consider turning off the water. Drain the pipes by running the water and flushing toilets after turning the water off. If a pipe burst while you were away, it could cause a lot of damage.
- Inspect your dishwasher and sump pump (if you have one) for leaks.
- Clear debris from rain gutters and downspouts.
Preparing your home for a vacation is also an important insurance consideration. Insurance policies can limit the number of days you can be away from your home before it is considered vacant. Check with your Alberta home insurance provider before going on vacation, and find out if you need to protect your home by getting a vacancy permit.
Going on vacation should be the ideal way to rest and rejuvenate. By taking the time to make sure your home is as ready as you are, you can relax and enjoy your time away, knowing you have done your best to prevent unpleasant surprises when you return.