Yes, the height of vacation time is upon us. Before school beckons us back into the class rooms and the call of our commutes brings us back to reality, there is that wonderful summer vacation.
Truth is, more and more families and couples are traveling year round, so vacation time isn’t as set as it once was. There are more retirees and home schooled students. There are more flexible working schedules and a host of other reasons for the shift away from the July and August vacation peak.
The when you go is much less important than that you get away from the daily grind and spend some quality time with those your love – even if it is just a “staycation.”
But, before you go, there are a few really smart thing you can do to help make your return home safe and uneventful.
Sure, you know to close your windows and lock the doors before you take off. And of course you do that (most) all the time even when you go out shopping, right?
So the things you want to do differently when you are going away for a few days or longer are:
- Stop the mail delivery. Put a hold mail delivery request in with the Postal Service. It’s free and simple to do online here.
- Tell your local contact your trip details. Ideally a neighbor or someone who lives nearby, let this person know your travel details and how to get in touch with you while you are away. This person should also have a key/access to your home. Having a local person is important not only for keeping an eye out on your home but also as a message relay if someone like the Sheriff’s Department (see Vacation Checks below) needs to get in touch with you.
- Stop your news paper and hold other deliveries.
- Ask a neighbor to stop by to check on your house and pick up any flyers or other materials left on your doorstep or walk way. Since most people pick these items up daily, leaving them “flags” you home as vacant.
- Talk with your Neighborhood Watch Block Captain and let him or her know your plans. They can also keep an extra eye on your home.
- Set timers on some interior lights or televisions to make your home feel occupied.
- Call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department dispatch and request a vacation check. As many of you know the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will do vacation checks of your home while you are away if you make a request. The very best way to make this request is to call the Sheriff’s Department at 714.647.7000, and select option 9 for dispatch. Once you are connected with dispatch, say you’d like to request a Vacation Check of your home.
You will be asked a number of questions, including:
The time and date of your departure and return
Any cars in the driveway and their description/license plate number
Who could or should be at your home while you are away (think gardeners, housekeepers, pool maintenance, visitors, etc.)
What lights are expected to be on and when (think timers)
If you’ve stopped the mail and or newspaper
If you have let your neighbors know
Who is the local emergency contact, if they have a key/access to your home and their contact information (phone number/address)
This is a free service the OCSD provides and when possible your home will be checked (at least driven by) once a shift.
The worst case is your street may get an extra patrol or two while you’re way for the weekend. And the downside is?