Your Place: Vacationing? Tips for keeping the house safe while you’re gone

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Oh, those Wildwood days!

Summer vacation means fun in the sun somewhere other than your backyard.

But it’s also prime time for burglars prowling the streets, looking for houses whose owners are out of town on holiday.

Of course, that isn’t the only thing vacationing homeowners have to worry about. Did you know that 49 percent of all lightning insurance claims and more than one-third of claims filed for hail damage each year are made during summer months?

That’s what Farmers Insurance says, anyway, and it suggests some things you can do to avoid unpleasant surprises on your return from that glorious week in Wildwood, or Ocean City, or Cape May:

—Unplug anything that doesn’t need to stay plugged in, including televisions and computers.

—Schedule a friend or neighbor to stop by the house randomly (to avoid a pattern or anticipated time) to remove boxes from the doorstep, check the mail, and take notices and fliers from the door.

—Consider shutting off the water to your washing machine, dishwasher, and toilets if you’re going to be away from the house for an extended period of time. This can help prevent nasty, and potentially expensive, shocks when you return.

You can also install wireless leak sensors in flood-prone areas like your basement, laundry room, or bathroom, to notify you of leaks before significant damage is done.

—Keep expensive and irreplaceable items such as old family photos, artwork, electronics, and stamp collections off the ground in case of water damage. Store them up on shelves and/or in waterproof containers.

—If you have outdoor furniture, bring glass tables, chairs, and umbrellas inside to avoid wind/storm damage to yard items or the exterior of your home.

—Avoid posting on social media while away on vacation. If the temptation to post is unavoidable, ensure that all possible security measures are in place on all social sites.

Today’s smart-home technology means that electronics and lights can be controlled remotely, often through an app. Schedule random timers for lights throughout the home, to deter burglars and vandals.