Preventing Damage on Vacation: How to Prevent Water Damage and Fire Damage While on Vacation
Vacations are about making memories and relaxing. The last thing you want is a water damage emergency, fire, or burglary back home to put a damper on your travels. Our vacation water and fire damage prevention checklists will help prevent disasters and keep your home safe while you are on your adventure.
Ways to Prevent Water Damage While On Vacation
Disaster can strike at any time, but water damage could be more severe if it’s allowed to sit a few days. Take these steps to decrease the risk and limit the damage should something happen.
Turn Off Your Water Supply Line
Prevent water damage while you’re on vacation by turning off your main water supply line. If you need to leave it on for some reason, such as a sprinkler system, consider turning off individual valves to your kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room. In the event that there is an issue, this prevents water from flowing unrestricted for hours or even days.
Clean Your Gutters
Clogged gutters will prevent rainwater from properly draining away from your home. If there is an issue, it’s likely that water will pool around your foundation. This can lead to water entering your home through basement windows or your foundation walls or floor. Removing leaves and other debris from gutters only takes a short time and can help prevent basement water damage.
Check Your Sump Pump
Sump pumps are designed to collect and pump excess water out of your basement or crawl space. If you have a sump pump, pour a bucket of water into the sump to ensure the pump is working properly. Also, check that the battery backup in good condition or consider adding a backup if you don’t have one.
How to Prevent Fire Damage While On Vacation
Fires can cause significant damage in just minutes. Taking these precautions will decrease the risk of fires while you’re on vacation.
Test Your Smoke Alarms
Make sure that all smoke alarms are working before you leave for your vacation and replace batteries if necessary. Although your house will be empty, neighbors will still be able to hear them and call the fire department.
Unplug Unnecessary Electronics
Reduce the risk of fires and electrical damage by unplugging all unnecessary electronics and small kitchen appliances. This will also reduce electricity use while you’re on vacation and keep expensive TVs, computers, video game systems, and kitchen appliances safe in the event of a lightning strike or electrical surge.
Preventing Damage While Vacationing During the Winter
If you will be traveling during the winter months, consider taking these extra steps to prevent water and fire damage.
Consider Having Someone Stay in Your Home
Leaving your home empty during cold weather poses a risk of pipes freezing or heating systems starting a fire. If you plan on traveling during the winter, you should consider having someone stay in your home to watch for damage.
Keep Your Heat On
While you may think it’s a waste of energy to heat an empty home, keeping your thermostat set at or above 55° F / 13° C will keep pipes from freezing. Open cabinet doors below sinks to promote better airflow and keep your pipes warmer.
Leave Faucets Running Slightly
If you live in extremely cold areas and cannot have someone stay in your home, leave your faucets running at a bare trickle. While this will waste water, even a slight drip will help prevent your water pipes from freezing.
Have a Someone Check Your Home Daily
If you can’t have someone stay in your home while you’re on vacation, have a family member, friend, or trusted neighbor enter your home once a day to check for damage.
Steps to Deterring Burglars While You’re Away
Unfortunately, your vacation could be an invitation for burglars. A few simple steps will help keep your home safe and deter thieves.
Notify Security Company
If you have a security system, make sure you let them know the dates you’ll be on vacation. You should also make sure they have your emergency contact information as well. Give them the names of trusted family and friends authorized to access the system while you are away and confirm passwords. Follow up once you return home as well.
Hold Mail and Newspaper Deliveries
The US Postal Service has an easy to use form for requesting a mail hold. If you have newspapers delivered, contact your delivery person in advance to ask them to hold delivery until you return from vacation. You should still have a neighbor, friend, or family member check your home every few days for unsolicited fliers or other items.
Pro Tip: Have your mail held for an extra day or two longer than your trip. This gives you time to settle in and unpack before you get bombarded with mail.
Lock All Doors and Windows
Close and lock all doors and windows. Don’t forget to lock your garage man door or pet doors as well. Leave your curtains and shades how you normally have them. While this may seem counterintuitive, having them all completely drawn is more likely to tip off burglars.
Use a Timer for Lights
While a variable timer is best, even a simple mechanical timer can be effective at making it look like you are home while you’re on vacation. Consider using at least one timer per floor, if not one per main room and set them to run at different times.
Arrange to have your Grass Cut or Snow Shoveled
Having an overgrown lawn or a few inches of snow can be a giveaway to burglars. Ask a neighbor to help or hire a service to ensure your home looks lived in.
Allow Neighbors to Park in your Driveway
Allowing neighbors to use your driveway will help make your home look lived in. If possible, ask them to walk to their home by using the backyard as well.
Remove Hidden Keys
If you have a spare key hidden somewhere, it’s best to remove it while you are on vacation. It’s much safer to leave a spare key with a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor.
Simple Travel Tips to Ensure Your Vacation Goes Smoothly
While the days leading up to your vacation are likely to be hectic, these simple travel tips will help make sure your vacation goes as smoothly as possible with. Plus, it will make returning home less stressful.
Let Your Bank and Credit Cards Know you’ll be Traveling
You can prevent issues with withdrawing money and charging large sums by contacting your bank and credit card companies before you leave. If you’re traveling overseas, you should also investigate foreign transaction fees. You may also want to pay for things like hotel and travel arrangements in advance to minimize
Make a Copy of Important Documents and IDs
Having a copy of your drivers license, passport, credit cards, and medical insurance cards can help if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen. Keep a paper copy in a safe location or the in-room hotel safe. You may also want to consider taking a photo on your phone too.
Keep a Copy of Your Itinerary on Your Phone
Make a list of dates, transportation, and hotels, including reservations and contact numbers. Keep all confirmation emails easily accessible. You can use a paper copy if you like, but it’s just one more item to carry around and potentially lose.
Pro Tip: Most neighbors, friends, and family will be willing to help no matter what, but giving them a thank you card with a small gas or restaurant gift card for their help is a nice touch.
Ask a Someone to Check Your Home
Ask a family member, friend, or trusted neighbor enter your home every day or two. Have them do a quick walk through to look for signs of damage. This can prevent or limit the extent of water damage or smoke damage.
Share your Travel Itinerary with Family and Friends
Make sure at least two different people have your entire travel itinerary in case there is an emergency. They should have at least two ways to contact you, such as phone, text, email, or social media messaging. Check in with them at each destination so they know you are safe.
Give Emergency Contact Information to a Trusted Neighbor
In the event of a disaster, robbery, or another emergency, make sure your neighbors are able to contact you. If you won’t have reliable phone access during your trip, consider giving them contact information for a trusted friend or family member who can act in your place until you return.
Arrange Transportation To and From the Airport in Advance
If you’re flying, arranging transportation in advance will alleviate stress when traveling. Whether you have someone drive you, take a taxi, or hire a car service, setting up your transportation in advance ensures you get to the airport on time. You should also book your return trip as well so you don’t have to worry about when you land.
Secure Your Patio Furniture and Other Items Outside Your Home
Severe winds and storms can develop at any time. By securing your patio furniture, grills, and other outdoor items before leaving for vacation, you prevent them from getting damaged or becoming projectiles during storms.
Set Your Hot Water Heater to Vacation
Save on utility costs by turning your hot water heater down to the vacation or away setting. This also limits how often your hot water tank is running and decreases the chance of a water damage emergency.
Adjust Your Thermostat
Set your thermostat to maintain a moderate temperature. During cold months, keeping your thermostat at 55° F / 13° C will prevent pipes from freezing without heating an empty house. Unless it is unseasonably warm, you can likely turn off your air conditioner in warmer months. During extremely high temperatures, 78° F / 26° C will prevent your home from overheating.
Pro Tip: Have a someone adjust your hot water tank and thermostat the day before you arrive so you come home to a comfortable house with a hot shower. Depending on the weather, ask them to open an upstairs window to air out your house as well.
Empty and Clean the Fridge
Take a few minutes to clean out your fridge a day or two before you leave for vacation. Consider offering usable items to your neighbors and dispose of all items that have already gone bad. This is also a great time to check the expiration dates on condiments and salad dressings too.
Take Out the Trash
Empty all the wastebaskets in your house, especially in the kitchen. Spray them with a disinfectant or soak them in a weak solution of bleach and water.
Pro Tip: No one wants to come home to an empty fridge, so place an order for groceries a few hours before you will arrive home. Schedule them for delivery or pick them up on your way home.
Run the Dishwasher
Load and run the dishwasher or wash the dishes by hand before you leave. This will help prevent smells and limit stress when you get home. However, you should avoid running your dishwasher when you are not at home to prevent water damage.
Clean Your Drains and Garbage Disposal
Cleaning drains and garbage disposals with vinegar and baking soda wash will prevent smells while you’re gone. Allow them to soak for at least an hour up to overnight. Then flush with boiling water.
Do the Laundry and Change Your Sheets
Nothing is better than coming home to crisp, clean sheets. Plus, you’ll bring home enough dirty laundry. By doing your laundry in advance, you’ll prevent funky smells and ensure you have clean clothes to wear to work or school.
Pour Bleach in Your Toilets
A quick splash of bleach in each toilet before you leave for vacation will help keep toilets fresh while you’re away. As an added benefit, they’ll be cleaner when you get home.
What Do To If You Have a Disaster While On Vacation
No one expects to have a disaster while they are on vacation, but planning in advance will help limit the damage.
Have Someone Contact You Immediately
By having a family member, friend, or trusted neighbor check your home regularly, you can limit the extent of damage from a water event or fire. Make sure they know how to contact you at all times on your trip as well. The sooner you are aware of the problem, the sooner restoration can begin.
Give Authorization from the Work
No matter how extensive the damage, a contractor won’t begin work without approval from the homeowner. While you can have someone coordinate with the restoration company, you will still need to authorize them to do the work over the phone. Schedule a time to call in or do a three-way call. In addition to authorizing the work, assign a family member or friend to act as your point of contact until you return from vacation.
If You Return From Vacation to Find Water or Fire Damage, Call Restoration Local
The Restoration Local network of water damage and fire damage restoration contractors provides 24-hour emergency services. Our on-call restoration companies always free estimates. If you come home from vacation to find fire or water damage, our experienced restoration professionals are here to help.
From water extraction and dry out to soot damage removal, they will clean and remove damaged materials. They also offer complete restoration services, including hanging new drywall, refinishing hardwood floors, installing new cabinets, and painting walls and ceilings.
Call 1-888-443-3110 now to talk with the on-call Restoration Local contractor in your area. Our on-call contractors offer 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute rapid response, and free, no-obligation estimates on all restoration services.