Simple Steps To Keep Your Second Home Safe From Costly Repairs

(BPT) – Whether it’s a cabin up north, a villa down south or a quaint cottage near family, many people in the United States own second homes. You spend time at these vacation properties during some seasons, but for much of the year they remain empty. That’s why it’s important to take precautions to ensure your property and belongings stay safe even when you’re not there.

Not only are vacation homes a target for thieves, but empty homes are often vulnerable to the elements and the unexpected. For example, can you imagine the damage that a water leak would cause if it remained undiscovered for weeks … or months? With a proactive approach you can keep your investment safe and give yourself important peace of mind.

To keep your second home secure, consider these smart steps:

1) Create the appearance of a lived-in home

It doesn’t matter if your home is in a well-traveled section of the city or a remote part of the forest, you want it to be secure from criminals. Vandals and robbers scout for empty homes, so one of the best ways to deter them is to make your property appear to be lived in. If they think someone is home, they’re more likely to stay away.

To create the appearance of a lived-in house, stop mail and newspaper deliveries immediately. Nothing screams “empty house” like a few weeks’ worth of papers at the front door. Next, keep the lawn mowed and trim the landscape, so the home is well maintained and doesn’t have overgrown shrubs where criminals can hide. Finally, alert a trusted neighbor that you’ll be gone, so they can keep an eye on things. Don’t know anyone nearby? Or is the property isolated? Consider hiring a property manager to check on the house periodically.

2) Consistently monitor water use

Even small water leaks can cause big damage, and if you’re not living in a home, that damage can multiply quickly. From leaks that cause terrible mold growth to burst pipes that flood entire floors, it’s easy to see why water is a top concern for owners of second homes while away. One simple solution is the Phyn Plus: Smart water assistant + shutoff. This intelligent device is installed on the main water line after the meter by an authorized Uponor Pro Squad team plumbing expert. Once installed, it uses programmed data and learns the home’s water-use habits, so it can proactively detect leaks and water problems in real time.

If a change is detected, you are alerted through a smart app on your phone, so you can take appropriate next steps. Phyn Plus will even shut off the water when an emergency is detected. You then can monitor or turn the water back on from any remote location. Learn more at www.phyn.com/installation.

3) Implement multiple security measures

Of course, you want to ensure you secure all doors, windows and other points of entry. But to really keep tabs on your second home, consider investing in a security system with an app or program for easy remote monitoring. With a live-monitor feature, you can check your home at any time. Additionally, programmable lights that turn on at set times inside give the illusion of people being home, and motion lights outdoors eliminate dark corners.

Finally, you might consider registering your home as vacant with the local police. Some cities offer a free service where an officer will come periodically to check your home while you’re away. Keep in mind this might not be available in your area and there may be a time limit for how long you can request these checks, but it’s worthwhile to call your local law enforcement and ask.

Put worries aside and keep your second home safe and secure by following these simple steps. That way you can feel confident that every time you visit your vacation property, you can enjoy it to the fullest.

3 Stylish Ways to Personalize Your Kitchen

(BPT) – From cooking to conversing to entertaining, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s also a space that homeowners often dream of renovating. A growing trend in kitchen design is personalization, where thoughtful updates go beyond stainless-steel appliances and standard cabinetry to incorporate a host of interesting design elements.

By adding splashes of personality to your kitchen, you make the space one of a kind, and you’ll enjoy it more because it reflects your preferences and style. Consider these key ways to breathe new life into any kitchen.

1) Switch up your cabinets

Want to give your cabinets a fresh look and add pizzazz without refacing or installing new ones? Try replacing existing hardware. Just as jewelry completes an outfit, hardware adds a finished look to cabinets. The variety of styles and materials for drawer and cabinet pulls – metals, ceramics, crystal, glass, stone – makes it easy to update your cabinets with little cost and effort. Don’t be afraid to mix and match hardware styles or experiment with shapes to add character.

Another idea is to update a few key cabinets. For instance, you can paint the cabinets above or directly beside the stove in black chalk paint, allowing you to add fun words and phrases – or even a favorite recipe – with chalk markers. You could also remove the face of several cabinets from the frame and add a clear or opaque glass insert for added visual interest and an unexpected touch of beauty.

Don’t forget about the often-overlooked toe-kick space – the recessed area just below the cabinets – which can be enhanced with subtle styling. Consider painting this area a statement color or adding tiles for a clever update you won’t see elsewhere.

2) Add vintage-style appliances

While stainless-steel appliances are popular in modern kitchens, distinctive appliances are a great way to add personality. Elmira Stove Works offers several vintage-inspired appliance lines in a variety of designs and colors. Whether you opt to update all your appliances or choose a single statement piece, your kitchen will feel inspired.

For those who lean toward a retro or midcentury modern look, the Northstar line delivers conversation-worthy style to any kitchen. Add a fun pop of color with classic hues like tropical blue, mint green and candy red, or choose from a broad selection of custom colors. Learn more at www.elmirastoveworks.com.

The Antique line features intricately detailed appliances with historic styling. These appliances are available in a range of traditional and custom colors, and can complement any vintage home design, including a rustic cabin, country cottage or lake house. For a turn-of-the-century feel, the Fireview stove has a visible wood-burning component that can also be used to heat rooms.

3) Light up the room

Proper lighting is essential for performing kitchen tasks, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Lighting provides an opportunity to get creative and bring touches of personality to the kitchen. By blending practical task lighting with decorative ambient lighting, you can inject the right balance of function and fashion.

Overhead and under-cabinet lighting make it easy to chop, cut, cook and more. Add a bit of flair with a layered approach – for example, strategically mix pendant and wall lights with recessed lighting. The globes that surround light fixtures are another great place to sprinkle in some character. From glass designs in vivid hues to textured metal looks, these surrounds come in myriad shapes and sizes.

You can find your favorite kitchen lighting options at local home improvement stores or boutique lighting shops. For something truly one of a kind, visit antique shops, flea markets and home decor reclamation stores. Whether an amazing art deco chandelier or an adorable Victorian decorative table lamp, you’ll discover unexpected gems for your kitchen.

When you add personal touches, you’ll enjoy an updated, customized space that will have you cooking and entertaining in style.

Top Tips To Protect Valuables From Extreme Weather Disasters

(BPT) – Natural disasters cost Americans $91 billion in damages in 2018, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

With parts of the country in the midst of peak hurricane season, and other regions of the country approaching the dangerous wildfire and flooding seasons, experts emphasize the importance of safeguarding key assets, especially those irreplaceable personal and financial documents.

“As the number of extreme storms in the U.S. continues to rise, so does the importance of protecting your assets like sentimental family photos, wills, insurance/tax documents and more,” advises Cheryl Nelson, a certified instructor at FEMA’s National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC). “We can’t always predict exactly when natural disasters will strike, but we can take proactive steps to safeguard the things we deem irreplaceable.”

In observance of National Preparedness Month in September, the Master Lock Company and Nelson partnered to offer insights and advice for safeguarding valuables from the unexpected.

Safeguard your irreplaceable belongings.

Whether you’re waiting out a storm or must quickly vacate your home, your most important papers, records, photos, valuables and heirlooms will be more secure when stored in a fire- and water-protected safe, such as the durable SentrySafe Combination Fire/Water Safe or portable SentrySafe Fire/Water Chest.

Maintain digital copies.

Plan ahead for contingencies by storing copies of your most essential documents safely in the cloud, as well as portable flash drives. Free apps for Android and iOS phones make it easy to scan documents for that purpose.

Consider moving expensive artwork, antiques, wine, cars and/or other possessions to a temperature-controlled, generator-protected storage facility built for that purpose.

Secure your yard and home.

Make sure your trees are properly trimmed and ensure your yard is clear of lawn furniture, landscaping equipment and other loose items. Strong winds can also open doors to storage areas and sheds if not properly locked. Consider a durable Master Lock padlock, such as the new “Now Even Stronger” Laminated Padlocks, to keep outdoor storage areas secure.

Close interior doors.

Taking that step may preserve your roof in high winds, since it compartmentalizes the pressure inside the home into smaller areas, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

Prepare for insurance claims.

Inventory and photograph your belongings as they’re purchased, attaching receipts and including appraisals when applicable.

Establish a lock box.

You never know when you could be trapped inside your home and/or need someone else to check on it during a disaster. Options like the durable Master Lock 5400D Portable Lock Box or easy-to-use Master Lock 5440D Portable Bluetooth Lock Box provide access via combination or smartphone.

A trusted name in security for nearly 100 years, The Master Lock Company offers a full suite of security solutions offering enhanced durability, reliability and security in myriad circumstances caused by natural disasters. For more information, visit www.masterlock.com.