Leave homes safe during break

By Marissa Novel

Once this semester finishes, students will begin migrating elsewhere for break. Those living off campus need to ensure all their residential ducks are in a row before flocking for home.

The following are rules of thumb for keeping a protected, clean and energy-efficient home over winter break.

First, make sure the house is secure by checking and locking all doors and windows. If some windows are without locks, contact the landlord and ask for other recommended safety alternatives.


After locking the doors and windows, pull the shades to block the view to the inside. If there are no shades, securing a bed sheet with pins to cover large windows is also an easy option.

Though residents are gone, they still receive mail. Postage piling up in the mailbox or on the doorstep indicates to burglars the house is empty. Calling the post office and requesting your mail be held until you return is a good way to avoid vulnerability. This can be done online or in person. It is important to communicate with roommates, though, the mail for the entire residence will be held rather than for just one resident.

Another tip to avoid theft is to invest in a lighting timer. If a house or apartment has its lights off for an extended period of time, it seems empty, thus attracting thieves. This strategy may be best for those feeling unsafe in their neighborhoods.

Lighting timers can be purchased at hardware stores, cost about $10 and are easy to use. They attach to wall outlets, and have outlets of their own for lamps to be plugged into. The lights will turn on and off at different intervals based on which activation pins are enabled on the timer.

The final tip in avoiding theft is to bring all outdoor furniture or fixtures, such as lawn chairs, tables and decorations, inside.

To come back to a clean home after break, rid the fridge and pantry of perishable foods. Anything questionable should be thrown away. This will keep bugs, pests and odors from lingering in the home while it is vacant.

To save energy, lower the thermostat to about 60 degrees. If the heat is turned off altogether, pipes are more likely to burst because of extreme cold. Pipes burst when the water in them freezes and expands.


Also, be sure to turn off and unplug all electronics and remove their chargers from wall outlets. Chargers consume energy while plugged into the wall, even while they are not charging anything. This may seem trivial, but over a month’s time the wasted energy adds to electric bills.

A safe, sanitary and energy-efficient home will make life much easier when returning from break. It is important to keep all of these instructions in mind before leaving for extended periods of time.

Marissa Novel can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @marissanovelDE or at 536-3311 ext. 268.