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Follow these important steps to protect your home while you’re gone RVing

Most RVers can’t wait to get out on the open road. Thieves can’t wait for you to leave home, either! It’s estimated that a home burglary occurs every 18 seconds in the United States. That’s an alarming number! But thieves aren’t your only worry. What if a water leak develops? Or the HVAC system malfunctions and causes a fire? Here are a few tips for protecting your home while you’re gone RVing.

DIY high-tech tips to protect your home

There have been many remarkable technological advances in home protection over the past few years. Of course, you can hire a professionally installed security system with 24/7 monitoring, but there are great DIY products on the market, too. The good news is that the cost of DIY high-tech protection has come down in price. Here’s just a sampling of high-tech protection for you to consider.

  • Smart alarms. This is the one we have. It monitors our home for smoke and carbon monoxide. A remote notification will appear on our phones if there is a problem. Check Amazon for many other options. You can also purchase smart products that will alert you by email or phone if a water leak is detected in your home. Knowing that you have a problem enables you to alert authorities or a trusted neighbor to check things out for you.
  • Smart plugs. We bought several of these to attach to various lights and appliances throughout our home. You can set a timer to automatically turn on/off lights, radio/TVs, fans, and more, or control the settings with your cell phone. If a potential thief is “casing” your home, it will appear as if someone is inside, using the lights, TV, and more—especially if the plugs react randomly.
  • Interior cameras. Several interior camera features include recording capability, motion detection, night vision, two-way audio, and connectivity to your cell phone. All will offer you peace of mind while away from home.
  • Exterior cameras. Weather-resistant outdoor cameras come in a variety of makes and models. Even less expensive models feature motion detection, full-color night vision, sirens, and more. Most have cell phone monitoring, as well.
  • Smart door locks. These products are a little pricier but do provide many perks along with deadbolt protection. For example, some smart door locks work off an app that you can use to set and change codes whenever someone needs access to your home. (Like the gal who comes once a week to water indoor plants.) Other smart lock models “ping” your cell phone when motion is detected, and some allow for two-way communication.

Low-tech tips

You don’t necessarily need to be a “techie” in order to keep your home safe while RVing. There are many non-tech tips that work, too.

  • Trusted neighbor. Ask a neighbor to check on your home periodically, especially to check the sides and back of the house. (A thief will usually enter a home in the spot least visible from the street.) Invite the neighbor to park a car in your driveway, to give the appearance that someone is home, too. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you protect your home while you’re gone.
  • Lawn care. Ask someone to mow your yard, rake leaves, shovel snow, etc., while you’re away. Do everything you can to give the impression that someone is home.
  • Lock it up. Make sure ladders, tools, etc., are locked securely inside the garage or house. (You don’t want to make things easier for a would-be thief.) Lock your large garage door(s) by disabling the remote door opener if you have one. If your garage has a side or back door to the outside, be sure it’s also securely locked. Double-check all windows and doors in your home to make sure they are also locked. (Double-cylinder deadbolts are highly recommended by security experts.) If you have sentimental or expensive items that you won’t be taking with you, make sure to store them in a bank lock box or home safe. And don’t forget to secure the doggie door or other pet entrance into your home. Some thieves are adept at contortion-like maneuvers when highly motivated. If you have a fenced yard, be sure to lock the gate(s).
  • Stop deliveries. Stop all mail, UPS, newspaper, or other home delivery for the time you’ll be away from your home. Ask a trusted neighbor to pull any fliers left at your door (like political pamphlets) or on your lawn (from a lawn care provider).
  • Don’t announce your plans. Do not post your vacation plans on social media. It’s a good idea not to broadcast your plans except for people who need to know.
  • Remove your “hidden” key. Many folks keep an extra house key in a potted plant, fake rock, or (please say it isn’t so) under the welcome mat. (Yipes!) If you plan to be away, it’s best to bring that “hidden key” inside the house. Maybe forever.
  • Clean the keypad. Dingy fingerprints on your coded entry system can be a dead giveaway to a burglar. Clean it off just to be safe.
  • Protect electronics. Unplug the computer, TVs, and other appliances or make sure they are safely connected to a surge protector.
  • Turn water off. We always have the city turn off our water while we’re gone. It not only saves us money, but it ensures that no water leaks or burst pipes will cause damage. When we get home we’ll ask the city to turn the water back on. That way, we’re home to see (or hear) any leaks that may occur when the water pressure surges back through the pipes.

What are some additional steps you take to protect your home while RVing? Share your tips in the comments below.

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Brian Karnofsky
1 month ago

Other suggestions:
Ask a neighbor (or hire someone) to blow leaves off driveway and porch to help make house look lived in. Also ask them to check mailbox (even though you might have done a hold-mail, they sometimes deliver it. Get them to pick up any flyers or ads dropped off at your door or nearby. If you have a garage door opener, get a MyQ or equivalent that lets you see if its been opened via a phone app, and close it if it was opened. There’s also a MyQ garage cam you can use to see if someone came in. If you have electronic door locks, use the app to double check that doors are closed, and if opened, review the app video to see what happened. If you don’t have automatic sprinklers, ensure that your plants, lawn, garden get watered. Tell your neighbors that they can pick any ripe veggies or fruit. Leave a TV on a news channel: a potential intruder might notice its on and assume someone is home, or the same could hold true if voices are heard. Play a recording of a barking dog

Gail
1 month ago

All good ideas. Thanks, Brian!

Cecilia
1 month ago

I don’t understand why you would call the city to shut off your water. I see problems with this approach. We have a valve under our kitchen sink that shuts off water to the whole house. Thought everyone had one.

Patricia Neuzil
1 month ago
Reply to  Cecilia

My parents were snowbirds for years and before leaving in the fall they had to call the water dept and someone would come out to put a special lock on their shut-off valve to make sure nothing would leak.

Bob Palin
1 month ago
Reply to  Cecilia

the only way to turn the water off to my house is at the meter, and homeowners are not allowed to do it, big fine. I think the water company charges $50 to do it.

Gail
1 month ago
Reply to  Cecilia

We spend most of the winter months in the south. If we have the city turn off the water, we aren’t charged the basic monthly rate for the time we’re gone.

DW/ND
1 month ago

Security has been a concern from the lst Rv we bought in 80’s because it is parked on the side of the house – visible from the street – so anyone scouting the area will note it is gone! (Prior to the security system below, I would call the county Sheriffs office to alert them to drive by once in awhile).

Anytime we are away, even for a weekend, I turn off the water at the main, shutdown the electric breakers to as many areas not needed, including the garage door opener. We also have a “Simpli-Safe” security system with glass breakage detection and I am in the process of installing outside cameras and solar motion lites. We also set timers for the lites. Problem with motion detection are deer etc. which set off the lites. We don’t leave in the winter or freeze months – other than perhaps a weekend car trip.

Bob M
1 month ago

I don’t want anything to do with apps, they snoop on you and violate your privacy. There’s no need to have the water company shut off your water. There should be a water shut off where it comes into the house.

Impavid
1 month ago

If you use a timer to automatically turn light on/off, be sure to use a timer that has a battery back-up to maintain your set schedule otherwise your on/off settings will be lost should the power go out.

Rebecca
1 month ago

Our Kovee smart thermometer alerts us if the temperature falls below 45° so we can call a neighbor. We make sure to pre-pay our snow plow guy to keep our long driveway open, and our neighbor pulls in and out a couple times a week to leave fresh tire tracks. We unplug the TV, but Alexa plays the radio LOUDLY on a random schedule.

Joe
1 month ago

For the winter we turn off the water, drain the pipes, turnoff and drain the hot water heater, siphon as much water out of the toilets and put RV antifreeze in them and all sink shower traps, unplug all appliances except refrigerator, put a quarter on top a frozen cup of water (that way we know if power was out and anything left in the freezer might have thawed out), set several light timers for various times. Forward mail, hire someone to plow the snow and set the alarm.

Cindy
1 month ago

I always turn off the water to the washing machine. Even the best hoses can rupture if frozen, as a good friend had the misfortune to find out. I pour about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into the sink and shower drains. The water in the trap will evaporate and allow bad smells to enter the house. Veggie oil takes a lot longer to evaporate, and I don’t come home to a nasty smell in the house.

Dale Noel
1 month ago

We do all that is mentioned plus cameras in the house and the Amazon Echo sends a message if it hears loud noises. This covers the water alarm at sump pump, co alarm, breaking glass or a broken door. The toilets are covered with stretch wrap to prevent evaporation and sewer smells. The outside also has motion lights and cameras front and back.

Michael Flank
1 month ago

We have employed all the high tech features you list on our travels, however there is one huge negative to all those internet/ Wi-Fi connected devices. When you have a power glitch or some anomaly that cause your router to go out. Then you must find the trusted neighbor to go in your house to reboot the router.

bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Flank

The last 2 routers that I have had will reboot automatically at a power loss. You might need to look into upgrading.

Roger V
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Flank

As Bob said, your router should reboot automatically. In fact, I put mine on a power strip that has a built in timer. Once a week, it kills power to the router and turns it back on 2 minutes later. Have found that this periodic reboot eliminates a lot of odd glitches that come up over time.

dale rose
1 month ago

I have a well, so I make sure to turn off the breaker, then drain the outdoor spigots. That relieves the pressure, and if the pipes should happen to freeze, it allows some room for expansion. I also turn off the water heater and relieve the pressure.

Bonnie
1 month ago

We also unplug our hot water heater

Gary
1 month ago
Reply to  Bonnie

Why are you heating hot water? :<)

Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary

To make it really Hot 🤔

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