Home inspectors

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                  8 Tips on How to Protect Your Home While You're Away

This may surprise you: The FBI's 2000 Uniform Crime Reports Program has found that the largest number of burglaries occur during July and August. Plus, 60 percent of all residential burglaries occur during the daytime -- rather than at night, as most of us believe.

Here are 8 tips to help you reduce the chances that you'll be victimized when you go on vacation:

- Check all doors and windows (including those in your garage) to make sure they are secure. All doors, if possible, should have dead bolt locks.

- Buy light timers, put them in different rooms, and set them so that different lights come on at different times while you're away.

- Check your outside lighting, and replace dim and burned out bulbs. Consider installing external motion-detection lights.

- Make sure that hedges and trees are pruned so they don't provide intruders with either access or cover.

- Don't leave spare keys hidden outside (burglars know all the hiding places). Instead, consider giving a key to a close friend or relative if you want someone to keep an eye on your home while you're gone. Leave this trusted person your itinerary and contact info in case of an emergency.

- Try to make your home look like people are living there while you're away. Consider stopping newspaper deliveries and mail to make sure they don't collect where burglars can see. (Or better yet, have someone pick them up daily so that your newspaper carrier, etc. don't know you're away.)

- Don't announce your travel plans publicly (such as posts on message boards or newsgroups). Don't change your message on your answering machine. Do not use "on vacation" email bots.
And be very selective about whom you tell your vacation plans.

- When you leave, be very careful to double-check that all doors and windows are securely locked and that your light timers are properly set.

Although not included in the "list of 8" things to do to prevent becoming a "victim" in your own home... one item very few people ever think of doing is, turning off the water supply valves to their washing machine.  NOT doing this could have you returning from your time away to the horror of water flowing out of your door jam, which could result in far more damage to your home than any burglar could cause.  A little known fact is, water pressure is always on to your washing machine, even when it's not in use.  Any weakness in the supply line to your machine could rupture and run water into your home the same as if you had taken the garden hose and just turned it on and left.  Not a happy scene to return home to!

Print out a copy of the Home Safety Council's Vacation Check List before you leave on your next trip:

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