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A home left empty while you are traveling is a tempting target for criminals. Basic preventative measures (which only take a few minutes to complete) can work wonders to help avoid power surges, broken pipes, home invasions and more.

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing and worry-free. That's why we’ve put together a list of things you can do to prepare your home for your absence and for your smooth return.

Make your house look “lived-in”

An empty house is a welcome invitation to burglars. To avoid making your house look empty:

  • Arrange to have the newspaper and mail held until your return, or have them picked up by a trusted neighbor.
  • Park your car inside the garage.
  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway.
  • Set a time on at least one interior light.
  • Install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight.
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed (or snow shoveled) while you are away. Ask a neighbor to set out your trash on collection day and then retrieve empty cans and recycling bins the same day.

Take the necessary plumbing and electric precautions

Not only is running appliances an unnecessary utility expense, it also could lead to costly problems. To avoid the expense and headache of something going wrong with an appliance while you're away:

  • Unplug small appliances and electronic devices.
  • Put the water heater in vacation mode.
  • Turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and all sinks.
  • Set the thermostat to a minimum of 55 degrees.

General home preparation tips

Other tasks you should consider doing before your vacation:

  • Notify your credit card company that you are going out of town.
  • Store valuables like jewelry in a safety deposit box.
  • Notify your security company that you are going out of town.
  • Never leave a house key hidden outside your home.
  • Leave your emergency contact information with a neighbor.
  • Run your garbage disposer with a half cup of vinegar and some water.
  • Toss out any food that will go bad before you return from vacation.
  • Take out the kitchen trash, or any other trash that could get smelly.

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