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The Pre-Vacation Checklist to Protect Your Home and Wallet

“Honey, did we forget to…?” pexels-photo-2 The dreaded question. Your mind instantly fills with uncertainty and you’re already contemplating turning the car around (with an illegal U-turn of course) because you can’t remember if you did close, lock, or turn off that one thing.   Nobody likes starting off a vacation this way. Though you are supposed to be embarking on a stress-free, sun-filled getaway, you are instead racing home full of road-rage, worried that this one mental oversight may make you late for your beloved escape. No matter how often you may travel, you should always create a checklist of all things major and minor to be done before you leave. This is especially true if you don’t have a Blink system you can use to check on your home after you’ve already gotten in the car. Not sure what to put on your checklist? Here are some items you should consider, just to get you started:

1. Close the garage door.

We are all guilty of it – simply take that second glance as you’re pulling away. I guarantee that craning your neck now will hurt a lot less than the whiplash you will get later from that sudden U-turn.

2. Turn the lights off.

Or, better yet, set the light timer if you have one (these turn on the lights automatically while you’re away for better home security). Either way, do a final walk-through of your home to make sure all lights are off or all timers are set and working.

3. Turn off all appliances and electronics.

This can be a hefty list depending on your house, but a whole number of things can cost you money while you’re away or worse, cause a fire. Take the time to check your various items before you leave so you don’t have to worry about any nasty surprises when you get home. Some items to consider: TV, speaker system, curling/straightening iron, coffeemaker, stove, computers, etc.

4. Take care of [insert adorable pet name here].

Speaking of avoiding nasty surprises – whether you choose a pet-sitter or opt for the kennel, confirm with your caretaker the dates, times, and expectations for their care while you’re away. If you have a pet you can leave at home alone, double-check that they will have plenty of food, water, and space for taking care of their business.

5. Turn off the water.

This may not be necessary if you are just leaving for a weekend, but better safe than sorry. Shutting off the lines to your washing machine, toilets, etc. will ensure that the first step back into your house isn’t into a layer of water.

6. Stop the mail and newspaper.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to have super-friendly and helpful neighbors, ask them to pick up your mail and newspaper each day. If you forget to do either of these, an overflowing mailbox or driveway riddled with dailies will send a very obvious signal to people that you are either away or dead, both of which frankly make your house an appealing target for break-ins.

 7. Arm your home security system.

With burglaries occurring every 15 seconds and summer being the most popular time of year for break-ins, it’s very important that you have a plan B in case you do forget to stop your mail and newspaper. Now I know what you’re thinking, “too expensive, too difficult,” but the reality is that home security solutions are becoming increasingly popular and affordable thanks to the invention of DIY systems. Take Blink for example – at $99 (and no monthly fees), you simply download an app to your phone and just like that you can arm or disarm your system from anywhere. Better yet, you can also receive real-time video clips of any activity within your home, whether it be Scruffy saying hi to the dog-sitter or someone trying to break-in while you’re away.  

8. Turn off the heat/AC.

Very obvious, but easily forgotten. And if you have a pool, remember to turn its heater off as well. Aside from the money it will save, this should be on your checklist because one dip in your pool’s now frigid waters and the neighborhood kids will immediately be discouraged from using it while you’re gone.

9. Lock all windows and doors.

This can be time-consuming depending on your home, which is why you should always aim to give yourself at least a half-hour cushion between when you are all packed and ready to leave and when you really have to leave. In these 30 minutes you should be able to carefully secure, turn off, unplug, and close all necessary items before legitimately being able to enjoy a worry-free vacation. Start preparing for that worry-free getaway by ordering a Blink system today – systems start at just $99 with no monthly fees! Learn more here.

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How to Secure Your Home for Vacation Travel

family-vacation-beach You go away on vacation to get away from your worries, but when you leave your home unattended for weeks at a time, it’s difficult to be worry-free. According to the FBI, crime rates increase approximately 10 percent in June, July and August, and another study by John Simister found that crime increased in cities around the world when summer months had temperatures that were warmer than average. Luckily, hi-tech used to mean high price, but not anymore. There are many proactive and affordable security measures you can take before going on vacation to help ensure the safety of your home.

1. Wireless Home Security and Video Monitoring System

Believe it or not, some of the most sophisticated wireless home security systems can cost less than that hotel room you booked for tomorrow night. Take Blink - this nifty, wireless home security HD video monitoring system sends temperature and motion alerts along with recorded or live video clips right to your smartphone, anytime and from anywhere. With prices starting at under $100 (and no monthly fees), you can be instantly alerted to danger, theft or damage through the Blink app on your iOS or Android device. You can even find out what the cat is up to while your family is away!

2. Hi-Tech Door Locks

Keyless locks offer amazing security features, like Bluetooth and the ability to see who’s knocking at your front door on your smartphone’s screen. Many of these locks allow you to give access by simply inputting a phone number or sending a text from anywhere in the world. For a rundown on the best, see what home expert Bob Vila has to say.

3. Security Lighting

Thanks to automatic switches, you can make it appear as if you’re home, even when you’re not. Set up some internal and outdoor lights on automatic switches, and be sure to pay special attention to entryways. These are generally inexpensive and easy to install, but always double-check that they are working properly before you go.

4. Tell Trusted Neighbors and Friends

Let them know you will be away so that they can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity while you’re gone. Leave them (or the babysitter or petsitter) with your contact details, a spare set of keys and the PIN for your alarm so that they can also drop by daily to - Close the curtains - Switch lights on and off - Move the cars around - Water plants and the lawn - Have mail and newspapers brought inside

5. Keep it a secret from social media

Don’t post travel plans or photos while you’re away as this will publicly notify your followers that you have a vacant home. Be sure that your kids also understand that they should wait until after you have returned home safely to share those vacation selfies.

6. Cancel Services

You may need to cancel grocery, newspaper, milk and pharmacy deliveries while on vacation. If you forget to do this, these items will be left on your driveway or by your front door making your home a strong candidate for a break-in.

7. Check Insurance and Banking Services

Ensure that your policies are paid up for homeowners, car, and medical insurance. Advise your bank and credit card companies that you will be away so that they can alert you to any unusual account activity.

8. Contact Your Alarm Company

If you opt for the more formal home (and expensive) surveillance service instead of a DIY system, be sure that they have the current key holder details in order to prevent any false alarms interrupting your getaway. Has the alarm been serviced? Update the local authorities if you’ve registered your alarm with them. While the no-tech and low-tech options are important, an HD video security system such as Blink can provide an enhanced level of security and peace of mind while you’re away. Learn more here!

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