As summer gets into full swing, it makes sense to review some simple but important steps you should take to secure your home while you head off for a well-deserved vacation. Amidst all of the decisions about where to go, where to stay, and what to do when you get there, taking some time to plan for leaving your home safe and secure will give you added peace of mind while you’re enjoying your free time.

Here are some useful reminders and tips for protecting your home while you’re away:

  • Make your home appear occupied by using timers on a few lights throughout the house, scheduling them to turn off and on at various times after dark. You can also use a timer on a radio to provide background noise to deter potential intruders.
  • Use extra caution when communicating about your vacation dates on Facebook and other social media. Information spreads quickly, and you don’t want it to get into the wrong hands.
  • Advise your friends and trusted neighbors of your travel plans and when you’re expecting to return. Provide your mobile number so you can be reached in an emergency.
  • Have the post office hold your mail and suspend any newspaper deliveries, or ask a neighbor to collect them for you each day. A buildup of mail or uncollected papers is an obvious sign that no one is at home.
  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway on occasion so it looks like there is someone at home.
  • If you have landline phones, turn off the ringers so they can’t be heard from outside. Leave a note on at least one of the phones as a reminder to turn them back on when you return.
  • Arrange to have someone mow the lawn in your absence if you’re going to be gone for more than a week.
  • Close the window coverings on any ground-level rooms so that would-be thieves aren’t tempted by valuables and other items visible from outside.
  • Unplug appliances such as the coffee maker, toaster, microwave, computers, video systems, stereos, and televisions. Be sure to leave the refrigerator and freezer plugged in.
  • To avoid the potential of water damage from an unpredictable leak or a burst hose, turn off the water supply lines for the toilets, sinks, washing machine, dishwasher, and ice maker. It’s easy to do and can help avert coming home to a disaster.
  • Adjust the water heater to its lowest setting or to vacation mode if it has one. Maintaining the hot water at its everyday temperature while you’re away wastes energy and money.
  • If possible, pack your vacation gear into the car while it’s in the garage so that you’re not announcing to passersby that you’re leaving for an extended period.
  • Lock the garage, gates, and storage structures. Don’t forget to lock any side doors to the garage, as well as doors leading inside from the garage.

Enjoy your time away, knowing that you’ve taken these smart measures to keep your home safe and secure.