The last few days and hours leading up to your departure on holidays are often hectic: packing, gathering important travel documents, weighing suitcases, repacking…  While you’ve probably never arrived at the airport without one of your offspring à la Home Alone, there are usually a few things that don’t quite make the to-do list before you walk out the door. Instead of wondering if you closed the bedroom window or worrying that a power surge will short the archaic freezer full of Aunt Patty’s chilli in the basement, add these helpful tips to your pre-vacation checklist and breathe a little easier on your hard-earned vacation.

  1. Get with the program. While it is nice to capitalize on some energy savings, don’t completely shut off the furnace or cooling system while you are gone. It’s a good idea to keep air moving throughout the house and keep it warm enough that the plants don’t die and the pipes don’t freeze, and cool enough that mold and mildew don’t have a chance to proliferate. If you have a programmable thermostat it takes the guesswork out of the equation— you can set it and forget it.
  2. Park it outside. Consider parking a vehicle on the driveway in front of the garage. Not only does this give the impression that someone may be home, it also blocks easy access in and out of the garage itself. It’s also a great idea to unplug the electric garage door opener so that the door cannot be opened. If you are parking a car outside, remove all contents including, of course, any remote garage openers.
  3. Clear gutters and downspouts. Summer storms can result in devastating downpours and a blocked gutter or drain can turn a soggy situation into a major flood. Making sure things are flowing smoothly before leaving your home vulnerable to Mother Nature’s fury will save you heartache and money in the long run.
  4. Unplug small appliances. Pulling the plug on small appliances such as coffee makers, toasters, charging stations, or music players can help protect them from damage in the event of a power surge. In addition, it can help reduce unnecessary power consumption while you are away.
  5. Turn off the water. If you don’t feel comfortable shutting off your home’s main water supply, then consider shutting off at least the water supply to both the dishwasher and the washing machine. Also remember to shut off in-fridge icemakers. This is particularly important if you are planning to shut off the main water valve, as the icemaker pump and motor will burn out without access to water.
  6. Sound the alarm. If you have a home alarm, make sure you use it. Modern systems now have mobile monitoring so you can be alerted on your smart phone if anything happens while you’re away. Some systems will even allow you to monitor video surveillance remotely. Make note of your secondary contacts (those people the alarm company will contact if they cannot reach you) and make sure they know you will be away. Also ensure anyone checking on your home has an access code and a password in case they accidentally set off the alarm.
  7. Garbage day delay. If possible, arrange for someone to set your garbage out the night before collection day. Leaving your trash at the curb several days before garbage day can be a major clue that you are not home. Don’t make it easy for potential perps to target your home. 

Vacations are meant to be relaxing and invigorating. The last thing you want is to come home from a wonderful holiday to a big mess from a flood or break in. Start organizing early to make sure your transition from vacay to day-to-day is as smooth as possible. 


Posted by Wally Fakhreddine on


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