Vacation Mode: more than locking the front door

You’re all set. You’re ready to leave for your dream vacation, you’ve packed your bags, your passports, your transportation is organized, and you remembered to lock the front door. In your mind your house is in good order so you don’t have to worry about anything else. Indeed, that may very well be true, but there are a few ways that you can ensure optimal peace of mind and that you might want to consider when going away for an extended period of time (more than two weeks). 

Most of the items have to do with general security. A few of the items listed ensure protection from natural mishaps and/or are energy or cost-efficiency measures. 

Some items are more essential than others, but many of these items are helpful reminders and things to consider. 

Plan in advance

᷾ Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on the property. If possible, provide them with a way to reach you while you are away. 

᷾ If you will be gone an especially long time (over two weeks) consider arranging for a house sitter.

᷾ If applicable, arrange for someone to mow the lawn or shovel snow.

᷾ Stop mail, newspapers, and other deliveries1

᷾ Consider the use of lighting timers (available at hardware stores for $10 to $20).2

᷾ Confirm that all insurance policies that cover your property and belongings are current and provide sufficient coverage.

᷾ Some insurance policies stipulate how often your home should be checked when you are away; contact your insurance carrier to make certain you understand and comply with these requirements.

᷾ Mark valuable items with identifying information. Consider whether you have irreplaceable items that should be stored in a bank vault or security box. Installing a security box into your home is perhaps the most accessible option though many banks also offer this service.3 

As you leave

᷾ Forward phone calls from landline to a relative or close friend.

᷾ Unplug computers and other electronic devices that might be harmed in an electric storm.

᷾ Leave window coverings in their most typical positions.

᷾ Confirm that all doors and windows are locked, and the deadbolts are engaged.

᷾ Shut off the main water supply and drain your water lines.4 

᷾ You may also wish to shut off the water heater (Review owners manual for further instructions).

᷾ Store items such as your lawn mower, bicycles, or ladders in the garage.

᷾ Unplug the garage door opener (pull on the rope that hangs from the mechanism).

᷾ Some manufacturers suggest snapping a vise grip onto the track above the roller when you will be absent for an extended period of time. Upon your return, remove the vise grip then re-engage the motor (simply push the button to operate the opener and it will reconnect) to restore normal operation.

᷾ Leave a second car in the drive.

᷾ Be energy conscious: change the settings on your thermostat for both summer and winter usage. Leaving the temperature in the home at a minimum 15 degrees in cold weather and 22 in warm weather will help to eliminate any problems in the home. In winter months leave room doors open and also open doors on cabinets that contain plumbing allowing heat to circulate.

᷾ Arm your security system, if applicable.

You may choose to print this list as a guide for things to think of. Upon your return remember to shut off your taps before turning the water supply back on and close cabinets that you may have opened to keep pipes warmer. If you left during winter time, take a quick peak in the attic to ensure that no attic rain or frost is occurring. 

Happy Vacation!

Photo by Chen Mizrach on Unsplash

1 Mail can be stopped through Canada post: https://www.canadapost-postescanada.ca/cpc/en/personal/receiving/manage-mail/hold-mail.page

2 An example of an automatic timer: https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/noma-indoor-grounded-timer-0528814p.html#srp

3 Edmonton Security box dealer:  https://www.edmontonlock.com/edmonton-safes/#deposit-safes

4 If you will be away for an extended period, you should drain your water supply lines. To do this, shut off the main supply line and open the faucets to relieve pressure in the lines. (Ensure that you close the faucets before turning on the main water supply once you return).

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