When you travel away from home, especially during the upcoming holidays, there’s a few things you can do to help keep your home safe.

1. Have a friend or trusted neighbor check on your home. Ideally, they should come into your home every day to may sure the furnace is working, and no water is running (or leaking out). The more often they visit the house, the better. Perhaps you could pay somebody to do the service if none of your friends or neighbors are available, or if you just don’t want to burden anybody with the additional responsibility.

2. Ask someone to occasionally park their car on your driveway. It helps to give your home the ‘lived in look’. Thieves often drive around looking at the exterior of different homes they consider breaking into. If they don’t think anybody is home, they have found a potential target.

3. Ask someone to pick up the flyers, make footprints and tire tracks on your driveway after a snowfall, and leave a bag of garbage out the day the trash is collected. This addresses the same theme is the point above, and will let anybody driving by think that you’re still home.

4. Avoid telling your friends on facebook, twitter, and other social media that you’ll be away. It’s sooooo tempting to post pictures of the whole family when they are visiting their grandparents in florida or trekking in costa rica, or visiting the Australian outback. Try to wait till you get home to alert the whole world that your family is away from home, and that your home is likely unoccupied.

5. Ensure your furnace is operating properly before you leave. Make sure you have a licenced Heating contractor visit your home before you go away, and ensure you implement their recommendations. If your furnace stops working, your plumbing pipes can freeze, and then burst, resulting in a huge water damage mess and insurance claim.

6. Don’t let your water pipes freeze. Open bathroom vanity and kitchen cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to the plumbing. Install an automated water shut off valve that will automatically shut off your water pipes if a leak is detected. Have your alarm system company install a water leak sensor that’s monitored by the alarm company. And if you don’t have a monitored alarm, this would be a great time to get one.

7. Close or shut off the main water supply valve that’s inside your house, most likely in the basement. Then drain the water from all the supply plumbing pipes in your system. Typically you can do this by opening all the faucets in your basements and let any water in your system drain out. If you don’t know where your water supply valve is, or if you don’t know how to close it, call a plumber to help you.

8. Turn off the outdoor water taps. Whenever possible, shut them off from inside of your house first, then open the outside taps to let any water in these pipes and hoses escape.

Be safe, and have a happy holiday !