Everyone needs a brake. When you’re on a vacation, you shouldn’t have to worry about things back home. Before you go, take a couple of safety precautions around the house, so you can relax like you deserve. The level of preparation depends on how long you are staying, if you have any pets and in what kind of neighborhood you live.

These are the steps everyone should take before they leave for a vacation.

Mail and newspapers

Cancel your subscriptions for magazines and newspapers you receive at home. Most papers allow you to get a refund for putting your subscription on hold. It’s messy to have papers piling up in front of your door and it’s a good sign for burglars that no one is currently living there. The same goes for mail. You can ask the post office to hold the mail for you and pick it up when you get back. Or you can leave a forwarding address if you’re expecting an important package.

Plumbing and appliances

Having the appliances turned on while you’re not around is both expensive and potentially dangerous. It’s best to turn them off – that way you’ll save some money and you can be assured that they won’t break down when you’re not at home. Unplug small appliances and electronics. Turn off the water heater. Do the same with the valves going into the sink and the dishwasher. Set the thermostat closer to outside temperatures; this will save you some money and still protect your plants. Put a box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors. In the end, be careful about what information you post on social media (depending on who can see them of course).

Avoid an empty looking house

An empty looking house is a magnet for burglars. You should try to make everything appear as normal as possible. If you’re planning a longer vacation, think about organizing house sitting. Make sure the lawns are trimmed. Your car should be in a garage, but it’s also good that someone occasionally come to park it into a driveway. Have a couple of motion sensors installed on the front porch. Put at least one of your lights on a timer, so it looks like there is an activity inside the house. Leave the blinds slightly open to avoid attracting attention.

Last details

There are always a couple of details that get forgotten, so make sure you compile a list and go through it before you leave. For instance, don’t forget to check the smoke detectors one last time. Leave emergency contact to your house sitters and neighbors. Throw out any food that could go bad before you return. Notify your bank and credit card company about your plans in case they need to contact you or send you some paperwork.

Prepare for your return as well

When you come home after a long trip, you don’t want to have extra work to do right away. Think about this in advance. Do your laundry before you go, so you’re sure there are clean clothes waiting for you. Change the sheets and tidy up the house before you go; that way everything will be ready when you come back. Also, if you’re returning late in the evening, have some food (something that can’t spoil) prepared, so you can make a good breakfast the next day. You’re going to need it and you probably won’t feel like leaving the house.

There is always a bit of a risk in leaving your house for a longer period of time, but if you make the preparation and if you’re careful, everything will be fine and you can enjoy your family vacation.

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