Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Safe while you're away

It's no longer enough to just stop your mail and newspaper deliveries while you're away on your honeymoon, as a deterrent to crime. It's a great idea to bring in a trusted housesitter to stay at your place for the week or two while you're away, and make sure you take safety to an even higher level -- teach your housesitter how to shut off the gas and water valves in your home, what to do if your basement floods, what to check if the power goes out, how to work your TV and DVD players so that they're not just pushing random buttons and messing up your DVR. Where the fuse box is and how to work it. How to work your security system -- we have a super-complex one, as well as a network of neighbors looking out for our property at all times. Tell the local police department about the days you'll be away, so that they can step up patrols in your neighborhood, which is also something we're doing as a matter of smart vacationing.

If you'll board your pets, check ahead of time to see if they need any shots such as the bordatella shot to prevent kennel cough, which is a deadly disease that can claim your pet in weeks. If pet-sitters will watch your little ones, make sure they have a complete set of supplies, including enough materials to change their bedding two or three times, plus the phone number of their veterinarian as well as a local animal hospital/emergency center. A vet isn't always open at night, so be sure you provide this second number just in case!

And do a thorough safety check of your home before you leave, making sure that all windows are locked, inner garage doors locked, sliding doors have thick rods or baseball bats in the groove so that they can't be slid open, and other security precautions. And program your air temperature to remain at a safe level, to prevent frozen pipes that cause expensive damage when you return home. It's a lot to keep track of right before the wedding, but it's an essential set of steps to take to keep your home and property safe.