By Fire Chief Chris Martin and Police Chief John Berg
Vacations should be about relaxation and getting away from stress. That’s why it’s so important to prepare your house before you leave so you don’t have to worry about coming home to disasters. The Sterling Heights Fire and Police Chiefs have put together these tips to help keep your home safe while you’re away:
1. If residents are planning to go out town on vacation, they can notify the police department and provide the dates and times they will be gone. Residents should also include if there will be any vehicles left in the driveway, alarm systems installed and contact information for anyone who may have a key to the residence. The department shares this information with the officers who work that specific area and they will keep extra patrol on the home and document this on their log sheets. The number to call is (586) 446-2800.
2. Residents should notify a trusted neighbor of their travel plans and arrange for the neighbor to pick up their mail and newspapers daily. Leaving such items out to pile up is a clear sign that no one is home. Also if a resident is planning on leaving a car in the driveway, ask the neighbor if they could move it around from time to time, parking it in different spots.
3. All windows and doors should be locked and secured. Doors can be fortified with a sturdy piece of wood like a 2x2, cut to fit in the slot the door wall slides in. Other items like a metal rod or cut hockey stick work as well.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to secure a sliding door is to cut a dowel rod or broom handle and place it into the track of the door. If a burglar manages to pick the lock, the rod should prevent the door from being slid open. Choose the right size rod, it should be long enough to fit snugly in the door track and thick enough to be sturdy but not too thick that it won’t fit into the track.
4. Before leaving, it is recommended that lights be put on timers. Notify whoever is keeping an eye on the house that these timers are set. Utilize motion lighting if possible in both the front and rear of the home and any other areas that are subject to limited view from the street.
5. Consider unplugging any electrical items that do not need to remain running such as televisions and computers. This will not only reduce the risk of fire, but will protect those devices from surges created from lightning strikes or when power is intermittent.
6. Water damage can be a problem that occurs when people are not home for extended periods. When a plumbing device malfunctions, water can continue to flow unnoticed until severe damage is done. Some residents may consider turning off the water supply to their house by turning off the valves on both sides of their water meter where the water comes into the house. This is typically in the basement. It is important to know that if the water is shut off, those items that run on water will not work, such as lawn sprinklers, humidifiers, ice makers, and water supplies sump pump back-up devices.
Questions? Contact the Non-Emergency Fire Department line at (586) 446-2950 or Non-Emergency Police Department Line at (586) 446-2800.