Away for the Holidays: Six Helpful Tips

by Matt Solis

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Lower your thermostat settings before leaving home for the holidays. Photo: Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar ©2021

Traveling today is more complicated than a few years ago, and leaving home during the holiday season always carries unique risks. The six tips below can help keep you, your home and your vehicle safe as we head into the new year.

1. Bring health documentation

Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need to show proof of your COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test. You may choose to travel with your vaccination card, or you could take a picture or photocopy it. California also offers digital vaccine records for those who received their vaccine in the state. Even if you’re not traveling by plane, you may still need proof of vaccination to enter some restaurants and venues.

2. Inspect your car

With many still wary about air travel and the cost of rental vehicles remaining high, more vacationers are opting to travel by car. If you’re planning a holiday road trip, make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Be sure to inspect your brakes, tires and windshield wipers before setting off. Consult this earlier blog post for a comprehensive overview of winter road safety measures. If your car is older, it’s advisable to have a qualified auto repair shop do a complete tune-up before you start your travels. Make sure to pack a first aid kit and don’t forget an ice scraper if you’re going to a snowy location.

3. Arrange pet care

If your pets are staying at home for the holidays, don’t put off making arrangements for their care. Some animals prefer a trusted pet sitter, but if your pet is more active and social, they may prefer the atmosphere of a qualified pet boarding facility.

4. Create a home security plan

Unfortunately, the holidays often see a rise in home burglaries as many people are away from home. If you have safety concerns, consider working with an alarm and security company to determine the best way to protect your home while you’re gone. This may include installing a security system, video monitoring equipment or motion-activated exterior lights. You can also improve security by making it appear as if you’re still at home. Do this by putting some interior lights on a timer and pausing your mail service for the duration of your trip.

5. Reduce fire risk

When no one is around, a house fire can go unnoticed for longer and cause more destruction. For better protection, install smoke detectors that are integrated into your home security system. Additionally, check your thermostat settings and unplug any space heaters and Christmas tree lights before leaving.

6. Don’t waste energy

A vacation is a time to literally unplug. Before heading off, disconnect items that consume electricity even when they’re not in use. These include certain wall chargers, video game consoles, DVD players and even programmable coffee pots. Also, be sure to set your thermostat to a lower temperature to reduce your heat usage. Shutting off the heat entirely can be risky for your home’s water pipes if temperatures go below freezing while you’re away.

While the holidays are likely to feel different than they have in years past, they’re still a time to experience warmth, camaraderie and gratitude. By taking some simple precautions to care for our homes, we can fully lay our worries aside and embrace the joys of the season. 

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