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The ULTIMATE Vacation Checklist

Summertime often means vacation time! But while you are away, is your house safe and secure? Make sure your home is protected while you are off enjoying your summertime plans. Here is the checklist of all checklists to help protect your home while you are away.

Burglary Prevention Tips:

  • Never share your vacation plans online. Of course, we would never post, "Rob me, please," on Facebook, but we have no problem sharing our "countdown to vacation" with everyone. You might not even realize it while you are excitedly telling people about your up-coming plans, but you are advertising to friends, friends of friends and possibly strangers that your home will be unattended. Instead, enjoy sharing all about your vacation when you get home.
  • Don't leave vacation messages on phones or emails. Simply state that you are "away from your desk" for your work email and phone, and leave a typical away message for personal phones or emails. Don't leave messages on your door (like for a delivery person) that you are away from home either.
  • Double-check all windows and doors: Do a quick sweep of the house prior to departure to be sure all windows and doors are closed and locked. If you have a home security system, don't forget to set the alarm.
  • Consider buying a timer for your lights: They are easy to program and work great. Use motion sensor lights on the exterior of your home.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
  • Trim all bushes and trees around your home to prevent hiding places for intruders.
  • Make sure doors and windows are locked and burglary alarms are set. Thieves are not looking for a challenge. Anything that slows them down will increase the chances of them giving up.
  • Do not keep large amounts of cash, valuables or jewelry lying around the house. Especially within view from the windows.
  • Change locks if your keys have been lost or stolen. Lock garden shed doors and store lawn mowers, barbecues, bicycles, etc. out of sight. Draw the curtains on garage door windows and basement windows. Never hide keys under doormats, flower pots, etc. Burglars know where to look for hidden keys. Instead, get to know your neighbors and leave keys with a trusted friend, if you wish and watch out for suspicious people or vehicles at each other's homes when you are away. Let them know that you aren't expecting any repairmen etc. while you are away.
  • Use timers for your interior lights to come on in the evening and shut off during the day. (Simply leaving lots of lights on is not a great idea. It will definitely look strange come midnight, and wastes energy too).
  • Have someone mow your lawn while you are away, if you will be gone longer than one week.
  • Leave a car in the driveway.
  • Hold newspapers and mail: Nothing says “we’re on vacation” like a stack of newspaper in the driveway. Even the Wet Bandits can figure that one out. Make sure you contact both the Post Office and the Newspaper provider at least two days before you leave.

Money-Saving Tips - Every Cent Counts!

  • Set the thermostat: It is summertime and it’s hot outside and it’s nice to come into a nice, cool house, but if you’re going to be gone for a week the house doesn’t need to be cool. For summer vacations, set the thermostat at 80 so the AC doesn’t run up the electric bill for no reason. In the wintertime set it at 60 for the same reason.  
  • Unplug small appliances: Every little electric appliance throughout your house is using at least a small amount of electricity even if it’s off. For maximum savings while you are away, unplug everything that doesn’t need to stay on. Unplug televisions, cable boxes, the coffee maker, the toaster, all alarm clocks, chargers, computers, night lights, and lamps. Everything. Even unplug the microwave. It takes a few minutes to reset the clocks when you get home. This will not only save you money, it will also prevent the toaster or coffee maker from going up in flames while you’re sitting on the beach.
  • Turn down the water heater: Cha-ching! Do you really need the water in your water heater to stay hot all week? Turn it down and think about how you’ll spend the $10 you’re saving.

Tips for a Pleasant Return to Home:

  • Tidy the house as you pack and vacuum on the way out of each room. It's always hectic when you come home from vacation, and it's wonderful to return home to a clean house.
  • Sprinkle a little baking soda in the toilets and down sink drains: This will prevent that stagnant water smell from setting in while you’re gone. Especially if you adjust the thermostat, there will likely be a lot less air circulation through the house. You don’t want to come home to the place smelling like a sewer. 
  • Turn off the water to the washing machine: A good way to wash away the relaxation after a long week at the beach is to come home to six inches of water in your basement. Even if your washing machine hoses have held for ten years, with your luck they’ll burst the second you close the door. Do yourself a favor and turn off the water to eliminate that possibility right off the bat. 
  • Don't forget to remove all the garbage before you leave the house!
  • Take the time to empty perishables from the refrigerator and pantry. Rotting food and a closed house don't go well together.
  • Pay bills that are due while you’re away: Don't leave important bills unattended. Take care of them ahead of time so that you'll be able to completely relax on your trip and return home without finding that you've missed a mortgage payment.
  • Water your plants: How upsetting would it be to return home to a withered garden and landscaping (especially after all the work you did this spring)?