With normal vacation travel disrupted because of pandemic concerns or restrictions, many people are choosing to get away to vacation or secondary homes. Because these homes may not have had inhabitants for quite some time, you’ll want to take a few precautions as you arrive. You’ll also want to make sure things remain secure at your primary residence while you’re away.


When returning to your vacation or secondary home after a long period away, check for:

  • exterior hail damage, window or door breakage or other places where water can intrude
  • nesting vermin or rodents in crawl spaces, gutters, porches or other parts of the structure
  • debris or leaves that may have accumulated in gutters
  • interior items knocked over or drawers left open – anything out of place that could be a sign of burglary
  • water spots on the ceiling or potential water leaks that could have gone unnoticed: broken pipes, water heater connections or washing machine hoses
  • issues with sink drainage or toilet plumbing; turn on water slowly to prevent damage

When leaving your vacation or secondary home, take every step possible to keep it from appearing unoccupied:

  • Lock all doors and windows
  • Lock the garage door and disconnect your garage door opener
  • Turn off the water and drain the system to keep the pipes from freezing

Whether you are leaving your primary home for vacation or leaving your secondary home vacant for part of the year:

  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway and pick up any newspapers
  • Stop mail delivery
  • Resist the urge to announce on social media that you are leaving one home for another, as potential thieves can see it as a great opportunity to break into your home while you are absent
  • Keep the outside appearance as though you were there; for example, schedule grass-cutting, leaf-raking or snow removal
  • Set up automatic timers on your inside and outside lights
  • Note specifics about your home before you leave, such as photos of the roof and ceilings to make sure that you are leaving the home with no existing damage
  • Notify the police of your absence, as they can assist with an occasional drive-by of your home
  • Set any alarms on your home and make sure all smoke detectors are working, so that potential burglars or fires can be detected as soon as possible
  • Consider a water shutoff system to protect either home from water damage

You want your trip to your secondary or vacation home to be enjoyable. Following these steps as you arrive and before you leave will help keep those memories happy ones.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact Landmark Risk Management & Insurance for insurance coverage advice and loss control information.