Safety and Weather, Home How to Keep Your Home Safe While You're Away 09/03/20 You can spend a great deal of time away from home for many reasons: vacation, business, splitting time between homes, perhaps even military service. It’s during these extended periods of time that your home is more vulnerable to damage — whether it’s from nature, accidents or burglars. Before leaving your home for a long period of time, take these precautions to keep your place safe: Protect your pipes and plumbing. If you go away while it’s freezing in your neighborhood, you’d hate to come back and find that pipes are leaking or have burst. The best thing to do is to turn off your home’s water supply while you’re gone and drain the water lines. You may also want to shut off the gas to the water heater. Batten down the hatches. If you plan to be away when high winds are likely, cut back any tree limbs from your house and secure any outdoor furniture or appliances. You might also want to consider installing storm windows or hurricane shutters. Adjust your thermostat. Set it based on the weather and the time of year so your HVAC system isn’t heating or cooling empty rooms for no reason. You might want to consider a “smart” thermostat you can program and then adjust remotely to a comfortable temperature for when you return. Don’t have a home security system? Get one. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. Many systems not only protect your home while you’re gone, they allow you to watch a live video feed of your home from your smartphone. Plus, most insurance companies will give you a discount on your home insurance if you have a home security system. Keep that lived-in look. Make sure your house still looks occupied to discourage thieves. Connect your interior lights to a timer so they go on and off periodically to give the illusion that someone’s home. Hire somebody to cut your grass. Also, have your mail and newspaper delivery suspended. Maybe ask a neighbor to check your doorstep daily and hold any packages for you while you’re gone. Don’t do the ol’ “hide-a-key” trick. Thieves have been on to this trick for years. They will always look for it. And they will always find it. Give your spare key to a trusted family member, neighbor or friend. Lock ’em up. Put your most valuable of valuables in a small safe and away from obvious places burglars would check, like your bedroom. Another good option: store valuables in empty containers from food or cleaning products, then hide the containers in a pantry or closet. Save your social media posts until you’ve returned. Don’t brag about the great vacation you’re currently having hundreds of miles from home. You’re basically giving online lurkers an open invitation to break into your empty house. When you return home, turn the water back on and adjust the thermostat to your personal comfort level. You might also want to do a complete walk-through of your home just to be sure everything is the way it was when you left, and nothing happened while you were gone that needs to be fixed. If all looks good, kick back and relax—and post all those great pics from your trip.