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Becky's tips for securing your home when going on vacation

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Vacation and traveling are times of excitement in most households, but that can quickly be brought to an abrupt ending when disaster strikes back home. It is so important to take adequate precautions when leaving your home unattended for any length of time. Below are some of my best tips for avoiding dangerous and disasterous situations while you are away.

• Turn off appliances and unplug electronics – you do not want to leave an opportunity for something to catch fire (faulty switches and sockets are a MAJOR cause of fires) and it saves a bit of electricity.
• Clean out the fridge! Who wants to come home to a stinky pile of leftovers and expired milk?
• Lock all windows and doors, especially double check sliding glass doors and secure with a broom handle or piece of wood for extra security. Most people leave a random door unlocked for emergencies so double check ALL windows and doors.
• Do NOT leave a spare key anywhere on the outside of your home. People know to look inside planters and under door mats.
• Stop your mail and paper service until you return.
• If you will be gone for an extended period, arrange for someone to cut the grass and keep up the appearance of someone being home.
• Have a neighbor take the trash receptacles to the street and return to their resting place in a timely manner.
• Store your values in a safety deposit box or safe within the home. Don’t leave them out for a thief to help himself to.
• Put lights and television on a timer so they will periodically come on and go off. This is a big deterrent for unwanted guests.
• Adjust the thermostat to a temperature that is a little warmer (in the summer) and a little cooler (in the winter) than you normally keep it to avoid large electric and gas bills while you are away.
• If you live in an extremely cold climate, turn off the water when you leave. If the electricity goes out while you’re gone, the pipes won’t freeze and burst. No one wants to come home to a flooded house!
• Take care of your furry friends! Cats are great at surviving on their own with lots of food and water left available. Continuously feeding water and food bowls are a great resource for them. Board dogs or have someone dependable check on them regularly.
• Talk to a “trusted” neighbor, let them know when you are leaving and returning, leave a spare key with them and an emergency phone number. Also, have them be on the lookout for “strange” activity…such as big trucks pulling up, anyone at the door, ask them to pick up any packages left by UPS, FedEx, etc.
• Do NOT broadcast to the world through social media that your entire family will be gone for two weeks to Europe! Everyone online is NOT YOUR FRIEND!!

Use common sense. This isn't rocket science! It is very common to get so caught up in the hype of preparing for vacation that we simply forget the necessities of preparing our homes for us to be away. A few minutes following these tips can save lots of money, time and danger.

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