Monday, December 1, 2014

Make your home safer while you're away on vacation

You packed the car. You loaded the bags. You made a plan for the dog. What can you do to keep your home safe while you're away on vacation this holiday season?

Here are 13 things you can do to secure your home before you leave for vacation:

1. Let your friendly neighbors know your plans. Ask a neighbor you trust to keep an eye on your home while you're away and empower them to contact the police if necessary. (Nosy neighbors are particularly helpful to deterring theft, too.)

2. Hire a house sitter. Having a trusted relative or friend spend the night in your home while you are away is an effective deterrent for overnight theft.

3. Double check that all of your doors and windows are locked. Enough said.

4. Turnoff and or unplug any appliances that could affect your electricity bills. Plugged-in appliances draw power! Switch off surge protectors as well.

5. Put your lights on automatic timers. Having interior lights come on and off in different rooms of your home during the evening is a smart move. Timers are available for purchase at home improvement stores and typically cost less than $10 each.

6. Turn off the main water supply. A major leak could be catastrophic when no one is around to fix it immediately.

7. Turn down your thermostat, but not completely off. You want to keep the air in your home circulating, and keep humidity down as well.

8. Store jewelry in a safe hiding place or off-site in a safe deposit box.

9. Remove your spare key.

10. Advise the newspaper and mail carriers to stop delivery. What's more of a giveaway than a house is empty than a pile of newspapers at the end of a driveway?

11. Have you updated your home inventory lately? Read our blog post, and if you have time before you leave on your vacation, use the guide as you review each room in your house and create a list of your possessions.

12. You wouldn't put an “Out of Home” message on your answering machine, would you? Of course you wouldn’t.

13. Don't be too social on media until you return. Consider posting about your vacation after you return home. Don't broadcast on the Internet that you will be away or are away.

Road Mode: Tips for Safe Holiday Driving

Americans take to the roads in droves each winter, trekking down the street and across the country to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with loved ones.

The roads can be extremely congested during this time of year, and more vehicles mean more accidents. Take these tips to heart as you travel this month and next, and be safe out there!

1.       Designate a driver. Large family feasts often mean indulging in sleep-inducing meals of turkey and gravy, and drinking one too may festive cocktails. Have a plan for who will drive you and your family safely home before you head out the door for the celebration.
2.       Sleepover if you’re too tired. An amazing number of auto accidents are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel, more than 100,000 annually, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Report on Drowsy Driving. Make a plan to sleep on the pull-out couch if it’s going to be a long day away.
3.       Buckle up. Seat belts save lives, and not receiving a ticket for not having yours on also will save you some cash. Wear your seatbelt and require everyone in your vehicle to do the same.
4.       Keep your cool. Patience is a must on the roads during the holidays. Turn on some soft music, take a deep breath, and take your time on the road. Expect the trip to take longer than you anticipated and try to relax.
5.       Be defensive. They say the best offense is a good defense, and the same is true for driving. Though you may do your safest, best driving this Thanksgiving holiday, chances are you’ll encounter other drivers who will not. Watch out for erratic behavior and be defensive on the road. Report anyone you suspect of drunk driving.
6.       Plan ahead for inclement weather. If you’re traveling to a colder area, be aware of the weather and road conditions before you depart on your journey. Plan your route and prepare your vehicle accordingly.
7.       Prepare for emergencies. Have your Ryan Insurance contact information handy (800-814-7155) in case of an accident, as well as your emergency signals, spare tires, and automobile club card. Make sure your cell phones are charged and with you.
8.       Prepare your vehicle. Perform some routine maintenance on your vehicle before you hit the road. Check the tire pressure, have the oil changed and top off your fluids. Of course, repair any issues that may cause your vehicle to malfunction, too.

Getting to your holiday destination can be as fun, enjoyable and safe as the visit itself. Take time to prepare, think and be proactive, so your holiday can be its most enjoyable.