Your bags are packed, and that long-awaited trip is only hours away. But is your home protected while you’re gone?
Many people who go on vacation wonder if their house will be safe while they are away. The last thing you want is a phone call telling you that your house was robbed - or even worse - coming back and discovering damage and loss.
The good news is preparing your home isn’t hard. It just takes a little time.
"If you check off each point … on the list, you'll go a long way to preventing thefts and accidents that could damage your biggest assets – your home and car," says Bill Adams, Vice-President, Western, of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Here are some tips from the Insurance Bureau of Canada and other experts for preparing your home and car for vacation:
Secure your home
- Lock any external doors, windows, and the garage.
- If you have a sliding window or door, put a piece of wood or a long metal rod on the track so that it can't be pushed open.
- Don’t hide any house keys near your door.
- Don’t leave car keys visible in the house. Take them with you.
- Take valuables out of the car if it’s being left behind.
- Set programmable light timers for outdoor lights.
- Turn on any motion-activated outdoor lights.
- Close your windows and blinds, removing any visible valuables.
- Make sure your security system is working.
Note: Make your home look lived in. Noticeable differences from its usual appearance can hint that you are away.
Have a neighbour or trusted friend check it
- Have someone collect your mail and/or newspapers, park a car in your driveway, water flowers and check your home for any damage.
- Have this person look for water leaks in the basement or ceilings. Leaks or flooding can happen in the summer too.
- Make sure they know how to reach you.
- Unplug TV sets, stereos, computers and other electronic devices such as toasters, kitchen appliances – anything you won’t be using or plug them into a surge protector.
Inspect your home before leaving
- Put away bicycles and gardening equipment and lock your shed and garage. It's also helpful to keep trees and shrubs trimmed so your house is in plain view.
- An upcoming vacation is a good time to update your home inventory and take photos or videos of its contents.
If possible, load luggage into your car in the garage
Keep your car registration and proof of insurance with you
- Thieves may try to falsify information if they find your registration and proof of insurance.
Don't announce your vacation plans in casual conversations or emails, or on social media sites.
Clean out your fridge and take out the trash
- No one wants to come home to garbage that’s been sitting around for over a week, so empty all trash, recycling and compost bins inside before you leave.
- Ask someone to take the trash to the curb on collection day and be sure they come back to put the bins away
Set your thermostat to a money-saving temperature
- You don’t want to unnecessarily cool your house when there’s no one home, but you don’t want it to overheat, either.
Contact your home insurance broker
- Let your insurance broker know that your house will be vacant and the steps you’re taking to protect it. Not all policies are the same, so you’ll want to make sure you’re covered in case of mishaps.
“Many insurance policies have clauses that will void coverage if your property is left unoccupied and unattended for extended periods of time,” Evan Rachkovsky, director of research and communications at the Canadian Snowbird Association, told Global News.
Public Safety Canada offers these additional tips:
Get a safety deposit box for valuables
- If you have any cash, jewellery, or other valuables in your home, take them out and put them in a safety deposit box. It costs money for this service, but it’s better than if someone breaks in and takes them.
If you are a firearms owner, secure and store all firearms in accordance with the Firearms Act and Regulations
A vacation is supposed to be relaxing. There is no need to spend time worrying about the safety of your home, as long as you make sure to take the necessary precautions.
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