With summer in full swing and vacation just around the corner, this month’s to-do list focuses on securing your home while you’re away. A few simple preventative measures can save you from property loss and make your getaway the stress-free break you intended.
Can’t manage to squeeze in all the tasks for July? No problem. We ranked each action item by priority so you can conquer the five-owl ratings first and follow up with whatever else you might have time for. Our checklist will help you rest assured that when you do pack up, you leave behind a safe, clean home.
Before you head out for vacation, throw away expired food and tame that mess in the fridge. The last thing you want to return home to is spoiled milk and moldy bread.
Vacuum Refrigerator Coils
This appliance keeps everything chill, but it performs the job much better when the coils aren’t clogged with dust. Pull your fridge out from the wall and put that vacuum attachment to good use.
Clean Appliance Faces
Are your appliances presenting their best faces? Scan the kitchen counter and wipe down the drips, spots, and greasy spatter that are marring your favorite kitchen helpers.
Bedrooms and Living Areas
Check All Locks and Deadbolts
Make the rounds and check every window and door. Tighten or replace loose locks. Pay special attention to any access point at ground level.
Rearrange Large Valuables So They Aren’t Visible from Outside
Avoid presenting window-shopping material to would-be thieves and relocate large electronics and other larger valuables out of sight.
Put Smaller Valuables in a Safe or Safe-Deposit Box
Jewelry and other smaller valuables should be stowed off-site in a safe-deposit box or at home in a safe that is bolted to the ground. It’ll minimize property loss if you do become the victim of a burglary.
Check Water Softener and Add Salt If Needed
If you’ve noticed your water seems to leave spots everywhere, your softener likely needs attention. Add salt only when the reservoir is completely empty.
Check for Leaks around Sinks and Toilets
While it’s okay that your toilets and pipes sweat a bit, you should look for leaks near anything that is puddling or dripping. The last thing you want to come home to is water damage from an unattended gusher.
Run Water and Flush Toilets in Unused Spaces
That bathroom no one ever uses? The toilet probably has quite the ring since you last checked it. Make sure everything is still in tip-top shape and give it a flush.
Dust Stair Handrail
Pretty much everyone who has ever been in your house has touched this. Everybody. Grossed out yet? Disinfect, polish, repeat.
Automate Outdoor Lighting
Maintain the appearance of a presence on your property by automating lights to turn off and on at certain times or installing motion sensor lights.
Update Doors with Smart or Reinforced Locks
Most thieves attempt to come through your front door, so equip it with a smart lock that you can control remotely or a reinforced bolt that will discourage intruders.
Give a Trusted Neighbor the Key
It’s helpful to give a neighbor your key in case something happens on your property while you’re away. They can assist quickly and respond to an incident. Emphasis on the word “trusted” here, though. Okay?
You probably keep quite a bit of valuable junk in the shed. Lawnmowers, tools, and other outdoor equipment are easy to sell in local classifieds, so lock your shed before you leave it.
Lock Gates to Back and Front Yards
An extra layer of protection is always a good idea. While an intruder may not be able to wreak much havoc in the yard, locking your gates makes approaching your home enough of a hassle that thieves may give up and find an easier mark.
Secure Mail Slots, Dryer Vents, and Pet Entrances
Don’t forget to secure these small spaces. Although an intruder probably isn’t squeezing through your mail slot anytime soon, small openings like these can be used to help gain access to your home.
Fix Concrete Cracks
Small cracks have a way of multiplying when the weather cools, so fix them now to avoid a complete breakdown of your concrete later. An ounce of prevention and all that.
Pro Tip: Schedule a task a day, and you’ll be able to return home from vacation to a safe, secure home that’s just the way you left it.
Written by Kaz Weida
Kaz is a journalist who covers home security, parenting, and community and child safety. Her work and product testing in the security and safety field spans the past four years. You can find Kaz in HuffPost, SheKnows, Lifehack, and much more. Her degree in education and her background as a teacher and a parent make her uniquely suited to offer practical advice on creating safe environments for your family. Learn more