Keeping Your Community Safe During Vacations

The approaching frigid weather and holiday season provide a perfect invitation to get out of the house and take a trip — whether to the coziness of a ski resort or the warmth of distant sand and surf. But when the residents of your Association leave their community behind, all of the empty homes can cause a substantial risk to the overall safety of your community. While Association members certainly should not be expected to abandon their vacation plans in the name of community safety, there are some steps vacationing community members can take to ensure that your Association cuts down on crime, accidents, and everything in between.

Leave the Light On

Dark windows, a pile of mail in front of the door, and an empty driveway can act as a lure for burglars looking for low-hanging fruit. And an entire block of homes with these telltale signs could mark your Association as an easy target, which could have devastating effects on the crime rate in your community. The growth and advancement of smart home technology, however, has made it easier than ever to make it look like you’re relaxing at home — even when you’re hundreds of miles away. If you’re looking for something a little more high-tech than setting your devices on a timer, investing in smart light bulbs or plugs, automatic blinds, and even a device that mimics the flickering light of a television can be great deterrents for nefarious individuals looking to loot an empty home.

But there are even simpler ways to make it look like you’re at home while on vacation. One of the greatest perks of living in an Association is the sense of community among residents, and vacationers can therefore rely on their neighbors to help keep their homes and overall communities safe. Asking a neighbor to pick up your mail every day, for example, can keep it from piling up while you’re gone. If you’re driving to your vacation destination, consider asking a neighbor with multiple vehicles if he or she would consider parking one of them in your driveway while you’re gone. Community members can and should rely on one another to keep their community safe.

Prevent Accidents From Happening

Electrical malfunctions are the third most common cause of fires in residential buildings according to the U.S. Fire Administration, making it more important than ever to ensure that you aren’t putting your Association at risk when you leave for vacation. Unplugging small devices like kitchen appliances and wireless routers  — especially for an extended vacation period — will not only reduce the risk of a fire, but should also yield significant savings on your electric bill at the end of the month.

It’s not only electric household appliances that can cause problems in your HOA or CA while you’re away on vacation. Turning off your main water supply and hot water heater is simple, can prevent the costs and headaches that come with leaks and water damage, and also protect neighbors in adjoining units.

Prepare for the Worst

Although we’re approaching the end of hurricane season, the arrival of fall and winter bring about a whole other set of weather events. From snowstorms to freezing temperatures, these events can cause major physical damage to a community and even place residents in danger. Making sure you have a plan in place — whether that involves asking another community member to check your home for damage in the event of inclement weather or implementing other preventative, cautionary measures — will not only keep your home safe, but also protect the safety and wellbeing of your entire Association.

Don’t Forget About Your Association

It’s tempting to leave all your worries and responsibilities behind when you go on vacation, but the reality is that dues payments, landscaping requirements, and other Association rules and regulations don’t stop just because you’re not around — and failing to comply will cost you, depending on your community’s specific policies and guidelines. Making advanced dues or other payments, or asking a neighbor to take your trashcans in from the curb are simple ways to keep up with Association rules while on vacation.

Additionally, while overgrown grass or untrimmed shrubbery might not seem like a risk to community safety, an untidy yard can be another signal to burglars that your home is unoccupied. Falling behind on your home’s landscape maintenance can also leave you liable for landscaping violations and fines. Brushing up on the landscaping policies in your Association and taking measures to keep up your curb appeal while you’re enjoying some relaxation time can keep your Association looking good and functioning smoothly — even when you’re not around.

Vacations are a time to experience rest and relaxation. Making sure your home and Association stay safe and sound in your absence will alleviate any stresses or worries, allowing you to truly enjoy your leisure time.