Vacationing? Tips for keeping the house safe while you’re gone

The Kansas City Star

Summer vacation means fun in the sun somewhere other than your backyard.

But it’s also prime time for burglars prowling the streets, looking for houses whose owners are gone.

Of course, that isn’t the only thing vacationing homeowners have to worry about. Did you know that 49 percent of all lightning insurance claims and more than one-third of claims filed for hail damage each year are made during summer months?

That’s what Farmers Insurance says, and it suggests things you can do to avoid unpleasant surprises on your return from that glorious week:

▪ Unplug anything that doesn’t need to stay plugged in, including televisions and computers.

▪ Schedule a friend or neighbor to stop by the house randomly (to avoid a pattern) to check the mail and take fliers from the door.

▪ Consider shutting off the water to your washing machine, dishwasher and toilets if you’re going to be away from the house for an extended period of time. This can help prevent nasty and expensive shocks when you return.

You can also install wireless leak sensors in flood-prone areas like your basement, laundry room or bathroom to notify you of leaks before too much damage is done.

▪ Keep expensive and irreplaceable items such as old family photos, artwork, electronics and stamp collections off the ground in case of water damage. Store them on shelves and/or in waterproof containers.

▪ If you have outdoor furniture, bring glass tables, chairs and umbrellas inside to avoid wind/storm damage to yard items or the exterior of your home.

▪ Avoid posting on social media while away on vacation. If the temptation to post is unavoidable, ensure that all possible security measures are in place on all social sites.

Today’s smart-home technology means that electronics and lights can be controlled remotely, often through an app. Schedule random timers for lights throughout the home, to deter burglars and vandals.