Lock it before you show up |

For many students, this is the first time we have lived alone. Going on vacation may be new to some and it can be daunting to think about what to do before you go. In an apartment or in dormitories, it can be advantageous to do certain things before leaving for an extended period. While we’re always happy to get away from class, it’s important to remember the safety of our homes. It can also create a ritual for some to keep them safe and feel comfortable leaving their homes.

Before thinking about security measures, a little cleaning must be done. People have different levels of cleanliness that they are comfortable with, so in every household, household chores vary. Some areas to focus on include the kitchen and bathroom. By cleaning the sink, bathtub and toilet in the bathroom, you will feel clean and ready to leave the house on your own. Throwing away all trash and food that might spoil while you are away will ensure that there are no unpleasant odors. You can also do small tasks like changing your sheets, dusting surfaces, and cleaning counters so you can come back to a clean and tidy home.

The first tip to use is to reach out to neighbors. Let a trusted neighbor know you will be away and give them your contact information in case of an emergency. If there is a flood, a fire, an intruder, etc., you can hear about it sooner. It can give you peace of mind knowing that someone is watching over your home and if there is a problem, you can be contacted immediately.

Another thing to consider is unplugging any electronics that don’t need to be left on. It is not only eco-friendly to save energy, but also can save a few dollars on the electricity bill. Electronic devices left plugged in can present a risk of malfunction and short circuiting as well as potential electrical fires. Sure, that’s the worst-case scenario thinking, but it’s better to cover all the bases in terms of safety and security. Things that can be unplugged are chargers, string lights, fans, lamps, and any other electronics that don’t need to be turned on while you’re away.

Although it may seem contradictory, the next tip is to leave a light on. This is more useful for those who live in a house or a townhouse. I learned this trick from my parents who leave at least one light on when they travel. The trick is supposed to give the illusion that there’s someone still living there and hopefully deter intruders who might choose your home as a target. You can have a lamp on a timer or turn on the fireplace light; something minimal but still visible from the outside. With apartments and dorms, it’s not as necessary as the interior isn’t as visible to outsiders.

Before closing the place, everyone should do a final scan of the house to make sure everything is in order before leaving. This can include checking that the stove and oven are turned off, that no food is left out, that the lights are off, and also seeing if there is anything you forgot to pack. There are so many times that I only caught things the second time.

In combination with a final scan, this is a good time to also check that everything is locked down and secure. Make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked. It is important to eliminate entry routes for intruders. Check that windows and doors are closed and securely locked. Even if no intruders take advantage of an unlocked or ajar entrance, it will keep the cold out, which is important in colder seasons. Insist on using the lock and key as this is the most important thing to do before continuing on your way.

You are now ready to go and enjoy your travels!