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Vacation Home Check List

Power Outlet

The reservations are made, your bags are packed, you've got your itinerary printed out, and you're ready to leave the world behind and escape to a fun-filled vacation spot.  While most travelers take great care to make sure they pack everything they need during their vacation, many don't give that same attention to preparing their home for their departure.

Leaving your house empty for a week, or even a long weekend, has possible dangers that should be addressed before you leave. One simple thing to do is go around and unplug any items that don't necessarily need power while you're gone.  Small appliances like toasters, coffee makers, and countertop microwaves should be unplugged.  Also unplug home electronics such as computers, laptops, gaming systems, and home theater systems. Not only will you save on electricity, you might very well be protecting your items in the event of a power surge during a black out.

Being away on vacation is a great opportunity to save a little money in the form of reduced power usage and energy efficiency.  In the summer, turn your thermostat up to 80 degrees, and down to 55 in the winter.  These temperatures will still protect the contents of your home but not waste unnecessary energy. You can also turn down the temperature on your hot water heater to save energy.

In addition to unplugging unnecessary items, walk around the house and make sure everything is locked. Check every door and window lock, and don't forget less-used locks such as those found in basements and garages. Store all valuables out of sight.  If you don't usually keep curtains or blinds closed when you're home, leave them that way while you're gone.  But don't let anything out in plain sight that might tempt a thief. Store expensive jewelry, valuable documents, and extra cash in a bank safe deposit box or in a hidden safe in your home.

Before leaving, make sure your entry doors are not only locked but are secure.  If your door looks tough to break in to, chances are good a thief will bypass your house in search of an easier target. Be sure the door frames are solid and the hinges are installed with three inch screws for added strength.  Install heavy-duty deadbolt locks and use three inch mounting screws so they are secured to the framing beyond the door jamb.

Eliminate any situations that could tip off a criminal to your absence.  A week's worth of newspapers at the end of your driveway or an overflowing mailbox are sure signs. In most areas, you can schedule online the specific dates for your U.S. Mail to stop and resume.  Another vacancy sign is inside lighting. A thief monitoring your house can tell you're gone if your home is pitch dark.  But if you leave a lamp on all the time, that could look just as suspicious.  Invest in inexpensive outlet timers to turn lights on and off automatically.  You can even hook a small radio to the timer so the house has some noise in the evenings. And resist the urge to blab about your vacation on social media. Smart thieves might see the information and decide to hit your house while you're away.

If you have a pet that you'd have to pay a kennel to care for while you're gone, consider using that money instead towards hiring a house sitter. Your pet will probably be more comfortable staying at home, and your house will have daily monitoring as well as someone sleeping there every night.  If you don't hire a house sitter, at least ask a trusted friend or neighbor to check on your house a couple of times while you're gone.

Preparing your home for your departure will save energy, deter thieves, and give you peace of mind while you travel. Start your vacation off on the right foot with the knowledge that your home is safe and secure.