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10 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

When you get back after a much-deserved vacation, the last thing you want to discover is that your home has been broken into. Take these precautionary steps to avoid any calamity.

1.) Get by with a little help from your friends

Ask friends or neighbors to keep an eye on things. Give them your keys so they can bring in any deliveries, take your garbage cans out and back in on trash days, and even reposition your car in the driveway.

2.) Consider a sitter

You might want to ask a trusted relative or friend to live temporarily in your home. If that isn’t feasible, think about hiring a reputable house sitter. (Check online.) The service can be pricey, but if you have pets, it might be more cost effective than boarding them.

3.) Share your vacation after, not before or during

Wait until you get home before sharing pictures and posts on social media. You never know who might be looking at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and you don’t want the wrong people to figure out that the whole family is away.

4.) Make sure the place looks normal

Closed blinds, drawn curtains and lights left blazing 24/7 aren’t the norm for most homes. Try to leave everything the way you usually keep it when you’re there. Invest in timers to turn on exterior and interior lights for a few hours every evening.

5.) Wait a minute, Mr. Postman

A pile of yellowing newspapers and an overflowing mailbox are sure signs that you’re not home. You can request that your newspapers and mail be temporarily stopped, but it’s better to have a friend pick things up so that delivery people will not know that you’re gone.

6.) Unplug to be worry-free

Unplug the coffeemaker, computer, TV and other such electronics. You won’t worry that you left them on, and you’ll prevent damage from power surges. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of saving energy: Many appliances use power even when turned off.

7.) Secure valuables

Even if you feel that your neighborhood is safe, don’t be too complacent — lock every door (use deadbolts), place metal or wooden rods inside the tracks of sliding glass doors, and secure windows and pet doors. Never leave anything of value in plain sight.

8.) Keep up the yard

Depending on the season and how long you will be gone, arrange for upkeep of your yard so your house doesn’t look abandoned. Have the lawn mowed in summer, leaves raked up and disposed of in fall, and snow cleared from driveways and walkways in winter.

9.) Watch the weather channel

Keep up with the weather at home in case of weather-related emergencies. Have a friend check on your pipes during a deep freeze (and show them the location of the main water shut-off valve in case a pipe breaks). A deluge of rain can flood a swimming pool or basement, so leave instructions for running pumps.

10.) Protect the car and garage

If you leave your car parked in the driveway, take the remote control out before you travel and disable your garage door opener to foil thieves who use universal remotes. If you leave your car at an airport, make sure your GPS doesn’t label your house as “HOME” — which provides a road map directly to where you live if someone steals the car.

Source: AARP