You’re going on a long trip, and your to-do lists likely have to-do lists. Packing and making arrangements for your vacation are important, but don’t forget a to-do list to protect your home. Just a few minutes of planning and double-checking can reduce the chance that you’ll come home to an unpleasant surprise.
The first and most important thing you should do to protect your home is tell your neighbors that you’ll be gone. Ask them to watch for any suspicious activity, and leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor along with your mobile phone number. Below are some steps that you, along with your helpful neighbors, can take to keep your home off the radar for thieves.
1. Look like you never left
- Put your mail and newspaper delivery on hold, or ask a neighbor to retrieve these things, along with any flyers left on your door while you’re away.
- Mow your lawn and rake any dead leaves. If it’s very hot, ask someone to water for you, or set your sprinklers on a timer.
- Trim any thick shrubbery that could serve as a hiding place for thieves.
- Put indoor and outdoor lights on a timer to go on and off at different times each evening so it looks like someone is home. You may also want to consider installing motion-detecting floodlights.
- Leave a car in the driveway, or ask a neighbor to park there occasionally.
2. Lock it up
- Lock all doors and padlock gates. Disconnect your automatic garage door opener and lock the door.
- Close your blinds and curtains so no one can see inside.
- Back up your computer onto an external hard drive. Store the hard drive, along with other small valuables, in a closet safe or safe deposit box.
- Remove all ladders, patio furniture, or anything else that could be used to reach upper story windows.
3. All the Rest
- If you plan to be gone for more than ten days, arrange for pool service if you have a pool.
- Consume or throw away all perishable foods. Empty indoor trash containers and run your garbage disposal. Ask a neighbor to set your trash and recycling bins out and bring them back in.
- Make sure all faucets are turned off, unless of course it’s winter and you are expecting a freeze. In that case, you may want to ask someone to come in and turn the water on if necessary.
- Unplug your entertainment system.
- When you make arrangements for your pets, don’t forget about the fish, the hermit crab, or any other small creature.
Make a final checklist for household security and maintenance and walk through the house with it just before you leave. On your vacation to-do list, add one very important thing: some thank-you souvenirs for your helpful neighbors.