It’s Vacation Time! Will Your Home Be Safe While You Are Away?

black-and-white-sky-flying-holiday

It’s that time of year, when we all need a break from winter and going stir crazy in our homes, on vacation we go. With all of the preparations that are made to go on a vacation, it is easy to forget what you are leaving behind. Your home is your greatest asset. It holds all of your belongings, important documents, valuables and more. But it is truly the last thing you think about when you head out for great adventures.

So you may not want to go all out and hire a house sitter, or perhaps you have no one close you trust. If you own pets you may have no choice but to hire someone, unless they are traveling with you. Assuming you don’t want to have someone sit around your home for the duration of your trip, you leave your home exposed to unfortunate events.

Your home doesn’t have to be a fortress in order for you to leave to go on vacation, but it shouldn’t scream “lived in but currently vacant home” either. Below are some basic tips to help give you peace of mind while you are away.

  1. Make sure to lock all entries to your home – doors, windows, and any operable skylights.
  2. Remove or store any objects that may allow access to upper areas of your home like ladders.
  3. Outbuildings and garages should be secured as well. Many items we store in these areas are costly to replace.
  4. Use multiple timers for lights in your home. Set them at a variety of times, so if someone is watching your home they don’t pick up a scheduled pattern.
  5. Alert the post office and put a hold on mail. A build up of mail is a sure sign to a potential burglar that they have free reign to tour your home.
  6. Even if you don’t want a full time house sitter, see if someone you trust would stop by a few times during your absence; someone you know well and feel comfortable handing a key to. Chose wisely.
  7. If you have a safe that will fit them, place any valuables into it and lock it up. Just because you lock your doors doesn’t mean and intruder won’t get in. So keep your stuff safe.
  8. Install cameras. Many cameras these days are compatible with smartphone apps so you can see live what is happening in your home. Or place cameras to record, if someone does enter your home you have it all on video.
  9. Considering vacations are costly, you might not be able swing this, but have a security system installed. This way an automated system can notify you and the local police that a break in has occurred. It will also help monitor and report any incident of fire.
  10. Watch how much you are posting on social media. If you post to Facebook, tweet, or Instagram your every move, you may be sending out too much information to unwanted individuals. Check your security settings and know your friends list. Are these people you should be sharing your current out-of-town location to or should you hold off on posts until you get back?

Save yourself the heartache of a break-in and even worse the feeling of violation that comes with it. Be proactive in securing your home before taking any vacation. While you may not be able to do everything possible, at least you can feel comfortable that you did something.

Enjoy your stay!

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the past Erin has worked in the field of marketing, focusing in social media and internet marketing. She also holds excellent customer service skills and enjoys working in the community. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients in the Capital Region. Visit her website http://www.homeswitherinmiller.com

 

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Holiday Safety Tips For Your Home

Holiday Safety Tips Blog

The holidays are here! Decorating the home is a favorite of many people during the holiday season, some have even turned the tradition into a contest – literally! The dazzle of lights, a variety of yard ornaments, and animated displays all bring a luster enjoyed by kids and adults.

While this fun and festive activity bring much joy to the season it can also bring dangers that many homeowners are unaware of. By tweaking some of your holiday decorating habits you can have all of the feels of the holidays while making home fire safety a priority.

Your Christmas Tree:

Christmas Tree Blog Image

Every year Christmas trees are involved in hundreds of home fires, unfortunately with some being fatal. By taking simple precautions you can easily avoid this tragic outcome. Keeping in mind that both natural trees and artificial trees are susceptible to catching on fire, though many artificial trees are available with flame retardant materials, see the safety suggestions below to decide which best fits your lifestyle.

  • Always choose natural trees with lots of green, fresh needles.
  • Trim the trunk before placing your Christmas tree into the tree stand. This will help to absorb more water, keeping the tree from becoming dry.
  • Whether your tree is natural or artificial, always use the proper rated lights to decorate with. Unless you have a pre-lit artificial tree, then you are all set.
  • Set your tree up away from any heating units. These units include (but are not limited to) radiators and space heaters. Never place any tree in close proximity to a fireplace.

 

Holiday Lights:

Christmas Lights Blog Post Image

What are the holidays without lights? For decades neighborhoods have been filled with beautiful displays. Today homeowners actually compete for title of the most elaborate light displays, even tracking down decorations and lights of yesteryear.

  • Examine light strands for broken and/or blown bulbs. Replace all necessary bulbs before hanging. If you find issues with the cord itself, frayed wiring and casing or broken sockets, discard immediately and replace.
  • Make sure lights and cords, including extension cords are away from fabrics including curtains, carpeting and blankets. Also, do your best to keep them away from children and pets.
  • Always turn off lights when not at home or when you go to sleep. Using a timer can help with this during the busy holiday season.
  • Use lights and extensions cords as they are recommended. Sets should be identified as either indoor or outdoor lights, the same for extension cords. Use extension cords that are suitable for the electrical capacity they will be running.

 

Candles:

Candles Blog Image

Candles are popular at all times of the year. These home fire safety tips also apply to candle usage at all times. The holidays are just a great time for a refresher.

  • Keep candles away from flammable items. Added holiday home decor may make space tight and accidentally it ends up near a candle. Be vigilant about what items you are placing around your candles.
  • Candles should always sit on a sturdy surface. They should not be easily tipped over or move around. Keeping candles up high and pushed back is best for homes with kids and pets.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended and always extinguish them before calling it a night.

 

Holiday Fire Safety:

Like with the candle tips, these fire safety tips should be observed all year long. It is the hustle and bustle of the holiday season that sometimes catches us off our game and a reminder is always good.

  • Check your smoke alarms and make sure they are in good working condition. Replace any broken units and have one in each room in your home.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it. Make it easily accessible or keep multiples on hand for large homes.
  • Make sure to have and practice an evacuation plan. Establish a meeting place outside of the home so everyone can regroup when they are safe.

 

These safety precautions can save your home and your holiday. No one wants to experience tragedy during the holiday season and so many people do. Keep these home fire safety tips in mind as your decorate and spend time with family and friends. Knowing you have done your due-diligence can give your great peace of mind for the safety of your home and your loved one.

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the past Erin has worked in the field of marketing, focusing in social media and internet marketing. She also holds excellent customer service skills and enjoys working in the community. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her website http://www.homeswitherinmiller.com

 

Thanksgiving Home Safety

Thanksgiving Safety

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Turkey time! Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season. A time when families come together to to give thanks and celebrate with a delicious dinner. Not to mention all of the football!

With so much going on it is easy to forget safety during the Thanksgiving holiday, though it is the leading day for home cooking fires. Neglected cooking is the number one cause of home fires on Thanksgiving. With hosts being pulled in many different ways, it is understandable how cooking may get left unattended. Turkey fryer fires come closely behind unattended cooking fires. Always make sure a kitchen is attended when anything is cooking and follow the directions on your turkey-fryer. Here are some other simple safety tips that can be applied to your Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving Safety:

  • Don’t leave food cooking and unattended.
  • Check on your turkey frequently.
  • Remove any items on the floor in your work space – you don’t want to trip and dump gravy everywhere.
  • If possible, keep kids out the kitchen. I have kids so I know this is easier said than done. At the very least, keep them away from the stove and counters where cooling food or knives may be resting.
  • Check the functionality of all smoke alarms. Replace batteries or units if necessary.

Turkey-fryer Safety:

  • Never overfill a turkey fryer. Always fill to the recommendations of the manufacturer.
  • Hot oil can splash easily causing serious burns. Always use caution when dropping your turkey into the fryer.
  • Keep in mind that cooking oil is extremely flammable. Turkey-fryers should always be supervised in case of oil vapors igniting.
  • Always completely thaw your turkey before placing in a fryer. Unthawed or partially-thawed turkeys oil to splatter.
  • Use caution when placing a turkey in a fryer. Place it in gently to avoid spatter or tipping the fryer over. Make sure that when removing your turkey, you have a good grasp to avoid dropping the turkey back into the fryer.
  • Always fryer outside. Not in your home. Not in your garage. Outside, on a flat and level surface. The surface should also be nonflammable like a patio or driveway. Never use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck.
  • Fryers can easily be tipped over. Be aware of where you place your fryer; keep kids and pets away from the fryer.

Take it from William Shatner, who did actually have a turkey-fryer incident, being cautious can save you some pain. Check out the cautionary tale video he and State Farm Insurance came up with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYkRF_FmD40

Also, see just how damaging a real turkey-fryer fire can be (also via State Farm): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETBD0EqQGoU

Keep these Thanksgiving safety tips in mind this holiday, it will protect your home and your loved ones. While these tips can and should be applied to other holiday celebrations, they are extremely important to observe at Thanksgiving. I hope you have a great Turkey Day and have lots to be grateful for.

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. In the past Erin has worked in the field of marketing, focusing in social media and internet marketing. She also holds excellent customer service skills and enjoys working in the community. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her website http://www.homeswitherinmiller.com

Prepare Your Home For Winter – 10 Things You Should Do

Home In Winter

10 Home Preparation Tips For Winter Weather

Being a homeowner is a great thing – having property you are proud of, a place to entertain or to raise a family. Owning a home gives you a place to plant roots and start a new chapter. However, with the fun and comfort that having a place to call home provides, it is also met with the burden of home ownership. Regular maintenance is a big part of owning a home and there is never a season where there isn’t a project.

With late fall settling in, we can almost feel the cold winter weather knocking on the door. Good news! It isn’t too late to get in some important tasks accomplished to protect your home during the winter months.

Here is a list of 10 things you can do to prepare your home for winter and increase heating efficiency:

  1. Take an inventory of snow removal equipment. Replace any broken shovels and make repairs to snowblowers. Make these items easily accessible in your garage or shed.
  2. Inspect your roof for any leaks of damage from previous seasons. Repair as needed or replace if necessary. Winter weather can cause major damage to a roof, so it is important to keep them in good condition.
  3. Check gutter systems for any damage and repair as needed. The weight from accumulation and subsequent ice can pull gutter systems away from your home. Also remove any debris that may be in gutters and downspouts.
  4. Trim trees and branches to protect your home and electrical wires. Snow can become heavy and break large branches or pull over trees, causing damage to your property or causing power outages. This is common in late fall/early winter when trees may still have leaves.
  5. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected – have any repairs made. This should be done yearly before using your fireplace.
  6. Have your heating system serviced by a professional. This not only ensures efficiency but safety. This is also a good time to fill up on heating fuel (if needed) and to change furnace filters.
  7. Replace screen doors and windows with storms. This will help add a barrier between the elements and your living areas.
  8. Examine windows and doors. Caulk around glass areas, replace weather stripping, and plastic if necessary.
  9. Insulate piping to prevent freezing should a power outage occur.
  10. Install additional or new insulation in attics, basements and crawlspace areas. This will help keep in heat and keep energy costs reasonable.

These simple tasks can help save money and keep your home safe. Winter weather can be harsh, especially in Northeast where just last year Buffalo, NY and Boston, MA saw amazing amounts of snowfall. While no one can predict what mother nature will do, we can do our best to prepare for it.

Erin Miller is a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson with HUNT Real Estate ERA in Saratoga Springs, NY. Previously she has worked in social media and marketing, with a strong background in customer service. Erin is looking forward to blending real estate and her other skills to provide a great experience for future clients. Visit her website at www.homeswitherinmiller.com.