6 ways to keep your home safe when traveling

Posted at 7:24 AM, Nov 29, 2016

According to research published by the American Sociological Association, people who vacation live longer and happier lives.

Whether you’re visiting family, warming yourself next to the fireplace at a ski resort or soaking up rays on the beach, leave the stress behind and reboot for the New Year. While you’re away, take these precautions to keep your home safe:

Engage your security system. A variety of trusted alarm systems alert you or the police if doors or windows are opened while you are away. Many systems offer a second layer of protection with motion detectors inside the home, and most allow you to check on your home remotely through the Internet.

Hire a trusted house sitter. Naturally, your home will look like someone is there if the lights change patterns, the mail and newspaper are brought in, the snow is shoveled and the yard is maintained. If you don't have someone in your circle whom you trust to watch your house, consider hiring a professional, vetted house sitter.

Save social media brags until you get home. Don’t advertise you’re gone while you’re away. It's tempting to tweet and post photos in real time, but it can alert others your home is unoccupied. Resist the urge to post about trips you are taking in the near future. Your friends will love seeing your photos just as much after you get home.



Turn off water to your home, especially if there’s a chance of severe cold. Pipes can break any time of year, but freezing temperatures increase your chance of problems. If there is a break, you don’t want water filling your place while you’re gone. You can save on your power bill if you lower your thermostat while you're away but, for the sake of your pipes, don't go below 55 degrees. For extra security, open the cabinets underneath your sinks to keep internal pipes a little warmer while you’re gone.

Unplug unused electronics, especially ones that can be controlled remotely. There are a couple potential pitfalls with electronics. First, if an appliance like your coffeemaker is set to turn on every day, it becomes a fire hazard when you're not there. Second, resourceful thieves can sometimes gain access to your home through the garage by using a universal remote control opener. Lock your garage door manually or unplug the door opener to be on the safe side.

Secure valuable items and documents. Even when you're not on vacation, keep your insurance policies, will, birth and marriage certificates, passports, Social Security cards, bank account information and financial investment documents in a safe location. This can be a fireproof and waterproof safe at home or a remotely located safe deposit box. Whichever route you choose, tell a trusted advisor where your paperwork is.

Taking a few precautions before you go on vacation will give you peace of mind while you're away. That way, you can make your trip memorable while events at home are, well, uneventful.

For more information about how to protect your home, please contact your local, independent insurance agent for more details.