Written By Denise Fedorow, DIR, Inc.

March Madness is upon us!

If you’ve got tickets for the “Big Dance” and plan to travel to L.A., Houston, Cleveland or Syracuse for the games or maybe you’re taking a spring break trip, you want to take steps to ensure your vacant home is protected while you are away.

A home security system is probably the best protection against theft and vandalism, but even a less expensive window alarm could serve as a deterrent. There’s nothing that screams empty home like newspapers piled on a porch or an overflowing mailbox—be sure to put these services on hold while you are away.

March weather is unpredictable and a foot of untouched snow in the driveway is another indicator that no one has been in or out so have a snow removal plan in place in case the flakes fly while you’re away. Inexpensive timers that will turn lights on and off at irregular times will make it seem as if someone is home. There are also some Smartphone apps that will do the same, or can turn appliances like televisions on and off.

In some communities the local police departments offer property checks and will be glad to drive by and walk around the property. Let the police know the dates you will be gone and a contact number where you can be reached.

Statistics from the FBI regarding property crimes show a decline in the U.S. but in 2013 there were 230,334 property crimes reported for the state of Michigan, 292,983 for Illinois and 187,536 for Indiana you still need to be vigilant so you don’t become one of the statistics.
Turn the heat down low in your home while you’re going to be away, but not completely off as that could cause pipes to burst.
If you have pets and a trusted friend or family members lives close by it might be best to keep your pet at home in its comfortable environment and have someone come in every day to feed and check on the pets—and the house. While feeding and walking the pets this person could also check windows, doors, and check for any issues like basement flooding in the event of a spring thaw.

You may want to let one trusted neighbor know that you will be gone and if someone will be coming to the house, let them know the type of vehicle that person drives so the neighbor is aware if other unfamiliar people are on your property.

Digital Marketing expert Rob Rohena says, “resist social media before you go and while you’re away. It’s easy to get carried away with excitement about the awesome tickets you scored to the big game and want to shout it to the world—or post “selfies” of yourself at the arenas—but remember that you are shouting it to the WORLD—not just your friends and family.” In other words, you can tell them all about it and post as many pictures as you want once you are home.

Depending on how long you’ll be gone, you might want to check your homeowner’s policy to be sure your vacant home is covered. Many policies have limitations that kick in after 30-60 days of vacancy. Add that task to your pre-trip “to do” list.

You want to be informed about your coverage in case of vandalism, theft or water damage and take steps to make sure your home is safe and secure while you are away enjoying the NCAA tournament or the sun and sand at the beach.