Each year thousands of Americans pack up and go out of town over the holiday season – the majority traveling at least 50 miles from home. Whether you are planning a tropical getaway or a visit to see relatives, being away from home and out of your routine can expose you and your unattended home to theft and other unwelcomed incidents.
Protect yourself from some worst-case scenarios by keeping these eight tips from Erie Insurance in mind.
- Share your itinerary: Let a few trusted people know where you are going and when. They will more than likely text you if they need to reach you, but you should still email the rundown of your travel plans, including departure and arrival dates, flight numbers and times, and a contact number where you’ll be staying.
- Take care of deliveries: Don’t forget to have something done about your mail. If a neighbor can collect it daily, that’s an easy way to keep tabs on your place. Otherwise, simply request that the postal service hold it for you.
- Don’t forget snow removal: Nothing screams “No one’s home!” like a driveway heaping with untouched snow. Hire someone to come by and remove the snow and ask a neighbor to pull up and turn around in your driveway from time to time, just to leave tracks.
- Lights: What’s the easiest way to deter burglars? Make them doubt that they’re working with an empty house. Invest in a set of timers to switch on lamps at various time. Also, leave a radio tuned to a talk radio station—the sound of voices coming from inside could help deter a burglar.
- Thermostat: If you have a pet-free house, you can lower the temperature to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warm enough to keep things from freezing, but cool enough to give your furnace and energy usage a break.
- Water: Should a pipe burst or even leak while you’re gone, it could slowly empty water right into your basement and damage appliances, furniture and much more. Turn off the water main in your home before you leave and drain the pipes by flushing the toilets and turning on the faucets. Also turn your water heater down to “vacation mode” so you aren’t spending money on keeping water warm when you’re not around.
- Electronics: Unplug everything that will not be in use while you’re away, including your washer and dryer, television, computer, toaster and coffee maker. Appliances can suck energy when they’re plugged in and not in use.
- Winter kit: Since a winter storm can hit with little warning, it’s a good idea to round up a few items to store in your trunk should you get stranded or stuck. Consider a sleeping bag, fresh water, non-perishable snacks, boots, jumper cables, shovel, a plastic jug filled with sand or cat litter, and a red bandanna.
Keeping these tips in mind before you travel this holiday season will help you, and your home stay safe. It’s also a good time to check in with your insurance agent to be sure that all your valuables are covered. Find a local ERIE agent to help you get the right coverage with the options you need.