Preparing You for Vacation

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

Planning for the unexpected before you go on vacation should make it easier to leave home for extended stays away.Whether you are concerned about a break-in while you are gone or a hurricane that damages your home, preparing for emergencies before you walk out the door will give you peace of mind as well as a level of protection. Even if you can’t afford a security system, a few minutes of observation can make your home safer. Some relatively simple steps will greatly decrease the odds of a break-in, which means you can relax even more.

Carefully evaluate your home from the inside and out, night and day. Look for easy break-in points at windows and doors. Even though most burglaries occur during the day, some occur during hours of darkness. Burglars are in search of houses with no one home. Use timers on interior lights to show activity in the home. To reduce your home’s risk of burglary at night, install motion lights in the front and in the rear of your house wherever possible. Try to position the lights at the corners of your residence so the motion detectors can catch someone approaching from the side. Make sure the lights are positioned at a height that someone cannot disable them by easily reaching up and unscrewing the bulb. Make sure your light bulbs are working before you leave for vacation. Trim back shrubs and trees so they do not give cover to a burglar  attempting to open a window or door.

In general, don’t leave anything around the yard that might help a burglar get into your house. Ladders, stackable boxes and all garden tools should be put away, preferably in a locked cabinet. Many burglars have used the property owner’s tools to break into a home. Don’t place outdoor tables near the house. These could become an easy stepladder to an upper story window.

Though windows are relatively easy to break, the loud noise of shattering glass will deter a thief in a closely populated neighborhood. Don’t leave windows and doors open during the night whether you’re home or away. Basement windows are an easy target, since they’re low and usually well hidden. Firmly wedge a steel bar across a window, sliding glass door or install a metal grate.

Don’t leave your valuables (stereo, computer, jewelry, etc.) where they can be seen through a window. Keep draperies or other window coverings drawn shut to conceal your home’s interior. Make sure you suspend your mail and newspaper service, or get a neighbor to pick it up while you are gone. Trash cans should be stored away from view. Make all efforts to make it appear that you are at home.

A house sitter is one way to ensure that your home and its contents will not be harmed. If a house sitter is not available, a trusted friend or neighbor can walk through daily to check doors and windows, electricity and plumbing. A burst water pipe left unattended can do significant damage in a short time. A power failure can cause many problems with interrupted refrigeration. Peace of mind while away from home is easier to have when you have planed well prior to leaving home! Enjoy your vacation this year!

Source: University of Louisville

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation, North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.