When the cat is away, the mice will play

I simply do not do well with mice. Some of the scariest moments of my life have involved an animal that is no bigger than 4”, but has the ability to turn me from relatively calm to screaming, swearing and running at a moment’s notice. My kids learned this lesson when they were very young. Sarah, aged 3, was forced to pick up a stick and say “I’ll protect you Mommy” after a mouse nest was discovered on our deck. I desperately convinced my 8-year-old son that he was the “Man of the House” and had to go downstairs and sweep up a dead mouse when his father wasn’t home.

Mice and other insects and pests have the ability to not only scare us but cause extensive damage to our homes. If you will be leaving your home unattended, please consider doing a few things ahead of time to help prevent an infestation and the resulting damage.

• Inspect your home for openings where animals could enter

• Properly dispose of all garbage. Spray wastebaskets and garbage cans with Lysol

• Clean out your pantry. Throw away any food items that could rot or draw bugs.

• Consider placing ant traps near piping or where pipe holes exist in the flooring or wall.

• Remove all perishable food from the refrigerator or clean it out entirely, depending on how long you will be gone.

• Thoroughly clean all appliances. This includes toaster, blender, dishwasher, microwave oven, stove, outdoor grill etc.

• Consider setting out commercial manufactured rodent repellent products.

• Consider contacting a professional pest control company.

• Dryer sheets placed in cars may act as a rodent repellent.

With regards to small appliances, consider unplugging all of them that will not be used while you are away. This includes TVs, radios, kitchen appliances, and any power strips. Put a timer on at least one lamp. Also consider unplugging your internet connection. You may also want to take the batteries out of your remote controls. When returning inspect the batteries and reinstall.

Protecting your home from intruders is necessary before leaving for any amount of time. Make sure to either take all valuables with you or put them in a safe deposit box. Insure that all windows and doors securely lock. Deadbolt locks for external doors and slide locks on sliding glass doors provide an extra layer of protection. Consider closing all curtains, blinds and window shades.

If leaving during the winter, set your furnace at a minimum of 55 degrees. It is critical for the safety of your home that the temperature does not drop below freezing. If your thermostat uses batteries, replace the batteries prior to leaving. I highly recommend that you install a temperature monitoring device. The simplest device is a temperature gauge that you hook up to a lamp near a window in the front of you home. The concept is that if the temperature goes below a certain level (that you choose), the lamp will go on and feature a red light. Before you leave alert your neighbor or neighbors that you have this device hooked up and give them directions on what they are to do if the lights turns on.

There are many different devices that can be hooked up to your smart phone to assist you with the monitoring of your home. With these Smart Home devices you can not only monitor the temperature in your home but also the humidity and turn lights on and off. The devices can also be placed and programmed to and alert you if there is water in your basement or other rooms in your home.

Placing small containers of cat litter or activated charcoal set throughout the home can help absorb any odors. You may also want to leave all closet doors and dresser drawers open to improve air circulation. If leaving during the summer place all candles in the refrigerator, if it is going to be left on.

Kathleen Carr is the owner of Assurance Home Service, Inc. a Home Watch company. She can be reached by calling 815-790-1247 or tgsinc12@msn.com. Have a question? Please contact her. She may address it in an upcoming column.

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