Summer is upon us in BC and households from around the province are getting ready to go on vacation. Bags are packed, itineraries are set, and travel medical has been purchased. All that’s left to do is secure your home before leaving for your 2-week sojourn or more. However, there’s a nagging feeling that the rules handed down from your parents about securing your palace while away may be steeped in fallacy. Could it be that these tried and true rules are unfounded? Have friends, coworkers, and online chatter convinced you that they are myths? Could they have the opposite effect and actually bring risk? Let’s find out!
Clarifying 5 Commonly Misunderstood Tips About Protecting Your Home While Away on Summer Vacation
Myth or Reality: Turn Off the Water?
Your family has been turning off its home’s water source since the beginning of time when leaving for a vacation. Then one day you heard someone murmur that their mailman’s cousin’s best friend did this and it caused pipes to back-up and burst. You Googled it, fell down a rabbit hole, and then read somewhere that stopping the water flow could also result in bacteria growth. Please don’t listen to the mailman’s cousin’s best friend, nor online forum banter. The experts’ consensus is that one should turn off water valves when leaving for summer vacation.
“Turning off the main water supply to your home is the best defense against flooding caused by a burst pipe or other plumbing failure.” (Popular Mechanics)
Myth or Reality: Leave the Lights On?
This is another vacation break-in prevention tactic your family has handed down since 1880 when the lightbulb was made available. However, given the difference in lighting systems to date, there is no cookie-cutter answer as to whether or not you should leave them on to deter trespass.
Lighting installations in older homes that have not been upgraded over the last decade should not be left on through the entire duration. Incandescents overheat, and instead of simply fizzling out they may spark and ignite a fire. Beyond fire risk, leaving them on the whole time can have the opposite impact on a savvy criminal’s psyche. House lights shining bright throughout the night are a telltale sign that someone is away. As an alternative, install web-enabled LED lighting with motion-detection, scheduling, and remote access features that allow you to control when you want to turn them off and on.
Myth or Reality: Pull the Plugs?
You’re in the habit of unplugging everything from the toaster oven to the TV before leaving on your retreat. Should you continue to do so? Yes, unplugging electronics is a good idea. There is one caveat through – don’t unplug your modem if you have Smart Home devices that protect your home such as security cameras and LED lighting systems. Also, when unplugging traditional electronics, pull them out all of the way. If you let the kids do it, they may give it a slight tug and leave the prongs hanging halfway out of the outlet which can cause a spark.
Myth or Reality: Give Someone the Keys?
You normally give a trusted neighbor, friend, or non-household family member a set of keys to get the mail and create the appearance that someone is home. In theory this makes perfect sense. However, can you be sure that they will exercise the same level of caution as you do for your home? If you go this route, maintain the same safety tips above. They may expect to be able to use the bathroom, cook, or watch TV when popping by to check on the house, but with the water turned off and electronics unplugged they won’t be able to. Ensure that they understand and accept this. You’ve taken measures to protect your home and reduce liability risk – so you’ll want them to respect that.
Myth or Reality: Have Someone Start the Car?
There’s a general rule that one should never leave a car for more than 2-weeks without starting the engine. When idle for too long, traditional vehicles may lose their battery charge and tires may lose pressure, while oil and other fluids may deteriorate or go bad.
What you should do really depends upon the age of your vehicle. Newer gas-powered vehicles (under 10 years old) should be fine in the two to three week window. If you’re going to be gone for longer than 3-weeks then it is a good idea to have someone come in and start it after 3-weeks. For somewhat older gas-powered models (10-15 years and older) have someone rev the engine every two weeks. For vehicles that are older than 15-years, have your helper take the vehicle out for a 10-minute drive. What about electric vehicles? While an EV can sit for months without charging if the battery power is at about 50%, manufacturers do recommend running it every 2-weeks. Considering the investment made into your EV (as applicable) you want to maximize its life. Following manufacturer guidelines is imperative.
There’s one more myth to address before your summer vacation – that you don’t need to review your homeowners insurance policy! Whether leaving for a long weekend, week, or more than a month, you’ll gain peace of mind in knowing that your home is as protected as it can be. Contact Park Insurance today to receive a review of your coverage.