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  • Writer's pictureCathy Hertler

9 Steps to Secure Your Home Before Leaving on Vacation

Vacation prep is stressful. Did you remember sunscreen? Cover all your wardrobe needs? Pack the pillow you can’t sleep without? But in all that list-making, folding, and suitcase wrangling, it’s easy to forget that your home needs to get ready for vacation as well. Before you set off for parts unknown, take some time to ensure that you leave your house safe and secure, so you can relax and enjoy your trip.

1. Take a Vacation from News and Bills.

Stop newspaper delivery and have the post office hold your mail, or ask a neighbor to pick up the mail for you. Nothing screams “Empty house!” like a driveway full of papers and an overflowing mailbox.

2. Keys to the Kingdom.

Make sure a friend or family member has your housekey, itinerary, and contact info. That way they can enter the house in case of emergency and let you know if any problems come up.

3. Don’t Make a Stink.

Purge perishable foods from your kitchen and take all your trash out. Bonus tip: As a special treat for Post-Vacation You, stock your fridge with sparkling water, still water, or whatever cold beverage will best refresh you when you arrive home. (Some nonperishable snacks and a few frozen meals are also handy.)

4. Talk Trash.

If garbage pickup will occur while you’re gone, arrange for a neighbor to pull trash bins out to the curb and/or back. (You can bring them back a souvenir as a thank you!)

5. Don’t Be a Drip.

Turn off the taps to your washing machine and refrigerator’s icemaker. Hoses can break without warning, and water damage to floors, drywall, and furniture can set in quickly.

6. Protect Against Vampires.

Not the glittery-skinned, tree-jumping, teenage kind … the electrical kind. Some appliances, including microwaves, televisions, cable boxes, and more continue to use electricity even if they’re not in use. Lower your electric bill and avoid potential power-surge damage to the appliances by unplugging them before you leave. One exception: Leave a few lamps set up on timers to give the appearance someone is home.

7. Bring the Heat.

Or at least the warm. If you’re not leaving pets at home, set the thermostat to a higher temperature. If you live in a humid climate, don’t turn the air conditioner off completely, as that can cause damage to wood floors, furniture, and appliances — and even allow mold to grow. Bonus tip: Install a programmable or smart thermostat so you can schedule the air conditioner to turn back on a few hours before you get home.

8. Lock Wisely.

We’ve all been there. The nagging voice in your head that says, “Did I remember to lock the doors?” If you’re travelling with someone, have them walk around with you and watch you lock each door and check window latches before you leave the house. Or, invest in a smart lock that can be managed from your phone.

9. Keep Your Snaps to Yourself.

We all want to share our amazing vacation experiences with family and friends as soon as they happen, but thieves have learned that social media is a great way to find empty houses. Wait until you get home to share all your pictures and stories, prefaced with a note that you’re safe and sound back home.

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