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From My Home to Yours
While getting ready for another vacation (one week this time), I decided my to do list might be helpful for fellow vacationers. Whether  you’re headed to the beach or the mountains, cross-country or out of the country, here are a few tips to keep your home safe while you’re away.

Lights – Put lamps on a timer in at least two room, set them to come on a few hours at night and in the morning while it’s dark. If you don’t own a motion sensor on your porch lights, consider putting them on a timer as well.

Windows – Make sure they’re all locked and your blinds are down or curtains are pulled close.

Lawn – Mow your lawn, trim your hedges, weed your landscaping just before you leave, so your house appears well-kept. If you’re going to be gone a week or longer, considering hiring a trusted high-school student to mow your lawn for you.

Driveway – Leave a car parked in your driveway. If you don’t have an extra car, ask a neighbor to use your driveway while you’re away.

Thermostat – Check your thermostat before you leave and make sure it’s turned off or set at an appropriate temperature while you’re away.

Water – Turn off the water where it come into the house. However if you have someone coming over the check on pets/plants, turn off the valves to the washing machine, dishwasher, or any other appliance, you never know what might happen and don’t want to come home to a flooded home and a huge water bill.

Bills – Pay all bills before you leave and contact your utility companies if you’re going away longer than a week.

Unplug It – Unplug any unnecessary appliances to avoid wasting electricity, your appliances from getting zapped during a storm or from a possible house fire.

Bank – Deposit any checks or cash you have on hand, don’t leave it sitting in your home. Inform your bank of your vacation of there are no holds on any check/debt card transactions.

Mail – Have the post office hold your mail while you’re away, you can have them deliver all of your mail the day you return or opt to pick it up at the post office (I prefer the previous).  If you live in the States, this is the easiest thing to do, just go to the USPS website and fill out the information.

Plants– Use Aquaglobes for your plants or ask a close friend to stop over to water your indoor plants while you’re away.

Pets – If you’re leaving pets at home, then you’ll obviously have someone come over to check on them. Keep a list of instructions, extra food/snacks, vet numbers, medications, etc.. on the kitchen counter or somewhere previously agreed upon. I suggest getting a 10 lb. dry food dispenser and a 3 gallon water dispenser for cats and/or dogs (although I’d rather board my dog then leave her home alone). If you have a cat set out extra litter pans and make it easy for someone else to clean and dispose.

Cleaning – I inherited this from my mother. Make sure your house is completely straightened and cleaned before you leave. Run the vacuüm, empty the dish washer, dust, wipe the floors, make the beds, etc.. It’s so much nicer to come back from vacation and relax. Most people don’t allow enough time after vacation before jumping back into their busy schedules, so get it done ahead of time.

Hide-A-Key – Remove your hidden key before you leave, no matter where it’s hidden, they may be found easily. If you must have an extra key, leave it in the glove box of your car. If you have a friend checking on your house, have them keep the key at their house (they probably already have one).

Notify the Neighbor – Have a close neighbor keep an eye on your house and call the police if they noticed anything suspicious. Also let them know of your plans, when you’ll be back, where you’re headed and a number to reach you.

Valuables – Lock all valuables and important documents in a fireproof safe. It’s good to keep an up to date list of all your possessions in the safe, as well as send a backup copy to your email. Photograph your home, all angles of each room and outside to help documents your possessions, keep copies in your safe and email yourself copies.

Lock the Doors – Make sure you check both storm and screen doors for your front door, side door, back door and garage door. Make sure any bilco or basement doors are closed and locked. Lock the ladder to the pool deck, gate to the pool fence, tool shed and any other accesses you have.

Pack your family and luggage in the car and double-check everything, get in the car, leave for your vacation (hopefully you don’t have to turn around a few minutes later for any missing items) and enjoy.

What other things do you do to prep your house for your vacation?