There are so many things we do to prepare for our vacations…. pick a destination, make travel arrangements, make lists for packing, settle our outstanding work obligations, lest I forget SAVE money for the trip, etc…. For many of us this is that once a year chance to walk away from ALL of our chores and many of our toils and responsibilities to a mini-escape that will refresh and reinvigorate us with an abundance of fun, relaxation, and “do-nothing-we-don’t-want-to-ness” until the next year. Most people gradually return from these vacations to their everyday lives with an unusually light and positive air about them. So what’s one of the best ways to exterminate this positive and relaxed state of mind? Return from vacation to find that your home has been violated by malicious intent or accident, either way it’s a total “Debby Downer”. Since most people tend to take their longer vacations in the summer, I thought it may be appropriate to make some suggestions to help avoid the previously described situations.
First, almost everyone has the forethought to take some steps to discourage burglars from finding your home the perfect target for week long pillage. These should include things like setting a security system if you have one, making certain all windows and doors are completely closed, locked and bolted, setting timers on some lights to make it look like you are home, and making certain your mail is held at the post office or picked up by a friend daily. Along with these, you should consider the newspapers and ads or fliers that we all get in the driveways. You don’t want these to pile up and get rain sodden and indicate you certainly aren’t home. Perhaps a trusted neighbor will collect yours on occasions they find one in their own driveway. Same goes for lawn care. Think about hiring someone to cut the lawn and maintain the exterior plants so the house doesn’t look atypically neglected. Another less thought of precaution is to unplug the electric garage door openers and remove the “hidden” outdoor emergency key everyone keeps somewhere under a rock or rug or elsewhere outside the house. So many universal electric remotes and code scramblers exist these days you shouldn’t underestimate the savviness of thieves. And finally, though you have the impulse to close all the blinds tightly shut, experts agree that this is like a flashing signal of emptiness if left for any length of time. So, leave your blinds as they would be on any day you would normally be home. These things will dissuade burglars with malicious intent from wreaking havoc on your home but let’s also think about things that could go wrong by bizarre accident.
When you think about the odds of some of these things happening, you may say you’d have better chances of winning a lottery, but the fact is they DO happen and as Murphy’s Law dictates: it will be at the worst possible moment. When would be worse than when you aren’t home to discover a maintenance issue so it goes unchecked for days? The very first thing I think of is somewhat preventable: water leaks. The washing machine supply cord bursts, the automatic icemaker malfunctions, someone left the upstairs tub running with the plug in because they were so excited to leave for vacation at 5am. It happens. Initially, it’s a big mess but call a plumber and with some diligent cleanup, not so bad. Now if it runs for days unchecked? Oh yeah, floors, drywall, lower levels, electric short circuits….. the nightmare knows no end. So what to do? Turn your water off at the main shut off. If you find that a little over zealous then at least turn off the water that runs to major appliances like washers, refrigerators, and dishwashers. After water, I think of electricity. Most of us already have surge protectors and power strips that can easily be unplugged or turned off. Not only will this prevent damage to your electronics in case of a big storm, but it is also an eco-responsible notion, but I digress. Thinking of storms also reminds me of your outdoor furniture. If a big storm has been known to blow your rockers, loungers and umbrellas all over the yard then consider subtly moving them to a more secure location or positioning them so they are better sheltered while you are away. I mean not many of us would leave an upturned chair or runaway umbrella out in the middle of our yard. Just for good measure you can also adjust your thermostats to a wider range of temperatures than you would normally think comfortable without turning everything all the way off.
You can never completely protect yourself from crazy, random accidents but you can certainly make them far less likely to occur by putting in a little extra thought and effort before you leave. I simply can’t close without also mentioning that you should be very cautious what you announce on social media. You don’t want all of your preventative efforts to be thwarted by your announcement to the world in general that you are “Going to Paradise” for a week and can’t be reached! I hope you find some of these things good reminders and wish you all safe and happy travels… as well as returns this year!