Summer vacation

Summer vacation is just around the corner for schoolchildren across the country, and that means family trips are close behind. Loading the family into a car to take them on a trip is an American tradition, but it brings a few risks as well. While the trip itself might be fun, any homeowner knows the stress associated with leaving a house unattended for a few weeks.

It's unlikely anything will happen in your absence, and even if it does, homeowners insurance will help you cover the damages. At the same time, it pays to prepare your home before you head out on your big trip. Follow these tips for some peace of mind next time you leave:

Improve curb appeal
One of the best things you can do before leaving is spruce up your home's exterior. A well-kept lawn and landscaping implies that the home is occupied and cared for, while unhealthy plants and overlong grass communicate neglect. Thieves may interpret this as a sign to target your house, so put a bit of extra effort into your home's appearance before packing up the family minivan.

Trim all shrubs and arrange to have a neighbor mow the lawn if you'll be away for more than a week. Homesite noted that you should also have someone regularly check your home's stoop for packages, newspapers or mail. If these objects pile up, it's a surefire sign to criminals that the home is unoccupied.

Keep your trip secret
While it's important to have some trusted neighbors maintain your home's appearance, Fox Business advised you shouldn't tell everyone you know about your upcoming trip. Spreading news of your impending departure can act as an invitation to criminals who hear about your absence through the grapevine.

Save on electricity
You don't want to waste electricity while you're away, for both economic and environmental reasons. U.S. News and World Report recommended unplugging all electronic devices to prevent them from drawing power. One of the biggest summertime power draws is the air conditioner, and USA Today advised turning this electricity-hog off entirely. By taking these steps, you both limit your power consumption and eliminate the risk of fires from electrical problems.

Set up timers
While you go through the house unplugging electronics, leave some of the lights plugged in and set up timers that make them turn on and off throughout the day, said U.S. News and World Report. This simple trick goes a long way toward creating the illusion that you are home and moving around the house.

Turn off the water
Turning off your home's water supply and draining the pipes during winter absences can help you avoid frozen pipes and the associated floods, but it can also be worthwhile to turn your home's water supply off during warmer months. HGTV recommended switching off the water to avoid an unchecked flood from a washing machine, dishwasher or other appliance.

Prepare for the worst
Summer has its share of inclement weather, and Fox Business recommended that you prepare your home for the worst of it. If you live in an area that could be hit by severe storms and winds, make sure that windows are tightly secured. Act as though this type of weather is inevitable during your absence. This approach ensures that you are adequately prepared.

Clean out the fridge
Nothing is worse than coming home to refrigerator full of rotten food, so remove any perishable items before you set out on your trip, said USA Today.

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