Going On Vacation? Prepare Your House!

Want to Come Home to THIS?

Trashed Yard!
Water Leak!
Monsoon Damage!

In the past, we thought nothing of loading the family in the station wagon, locking the front door and heading off on vacation, knowing that everything at home would be fine while we were gone.

Today, we load everyone in the SUV, bolt the door, set the alarm system and worry the whole time we are gone whether our home will be anything like we left it when we get back!

Planning a vacation or an extended trip?
Be sure to secure your home before you leave, and arrange for its care while you are gone.  Could you really be able to enjoy your family vacation or feel relaxed while visiting relatives, if the thought of your home being violated is always in the back of your mind?  There are things that you can do before you leave that will ensure that your home is safe.

Give your home that “Lived-In Look”.
It is important that your home does not look vacant while you are away.  Leave your curtains open when you leave because closed curtains usually indicate a vacant home.  Purchase light timers that will turn on and off different lights in your home throughout the day. It is also good to invest in motion sensor lights for the outside.

Turn on a radio.
As added protection, you may want to keep a radio on somewhere in the main part of the house.  The volume need not be very loud, just loud enough to fool an intruder.

Turn on the alarm system.
If you have an alarm system, make sure that it is functioning properly and set when you leave.

Lock your doors and windows.
Do not leave house keys under rocks or flower boxes around your home. Make sure all windows and outside doors are locked and secure prior to leaving.

Forward your phone.
Never leave a message on your phone that states you are away. A much better idea is to forward your home phone to your cell or another phone where you will be.

Take care of the yard.
The appearance of your yard can also give signals that your home is vacant.  Clean up your yard before you leave, and arrange to have someone mow your grass, remove fliers and door hangers, and pick up trash that can accumulate in your yard while you are away.

Maintain your pool service.
If you clean your pool yourself, arrange for a pool service to take care of it while you are away.  If you already have a pool service make sure they continue the service in your absence.

Provide the post office with an “Authorization to Hold Mail”.
Theses forms are available at your local post office or on-line at www.usps.com.

Place a “Vacation Hold” on your newspapers.
This will ensure that you don't have papers piling up on your driveway or in the yard.

Contact the sheriff’s office.
Let them know the date you will be leaving and when you will be returning.  They may provide a patrol unit to drive by your house everyday to spot anything out of the ordinary.  If your neighborhood has a Neighborhood Watch program list your home as one that is in need of being watched.  Make an inventory of your valuables, with serial numbers and model numbers where possible.  This information comes in handy if you ever have to file an insurance claim.

Take care of your pets and plants.
It is important that you make adequate arrangements for any pets that you may own.  You can board them at a shelter or arrange for a Pet Sitter.  It will be unsettling to your pet to be separated from you, so make sure they are cared for.  Don’t forget the goldfish in the tank, or the plants in your home.  It would be sad to come home to a floating fish and dead house plants.  You may want to make prior arrangements to have someone come into your home to take care of these other special family members.

Clean out the fridge.
Prior to leaving go through the refrigerator and dispose of any products that will have spoiled before you come home.

Adjust the thermostat.
You should reduce the temperature on the hot water heater to a lower temperature, and adjust the thermostat on the air conditioner to an “away” setting.

Consider using a Home Watch Service.
Typically, regular visits to your home are scheduled, which allows them to watch for weather damage, maintenance problems, vandalism, water leaks, pests, and other concerns while you are gone.  This is an affordable option that can make sure there aren’t any unwanted surprises when you return home.

Enjoy your trip!
There is no greater feeling than to have peace of mind and to be able to enjoy your time away from home.  The only feeling that can match that is coming home and finding that your home is still intact and your pets are well.  The day of everyone leaving their front doors unlocked are over. Make sure that you do everything you can to assure that your home, pets and possessions are well-protected while you are away.

Don’t leave without having someone watch over your home.

Author Ken Ott and his wife, Cindy own and operate Kendy Home Watch Service.  They are fulltime residents in Anthem and provide Home Watch Services in the surrounding areas of Desert Hills, Tramonto and New River, as well as Anthem.  For a “Complete Home Checklist for Vacationers” or to find out about the services they offer, visit www.KendyCo.com or email them at HomeWatch@KendyCo.com.  They can also be reached at 602-321-9359.