Vacation Checklist

Real Estate

Vacation Checklist

It's summer time - it's vacation time. And the time of the year when you hear the news of recent break-ins in your neighborhood. And you may wonder about leaving the iron on, or about a water pipe bursting.

Whether you stay or go, boost your home’s protection with these suggestions:

- Replace loose window screens, broken latches, and cracked windowpanes. Close and lock all windows.

- Trim shrubbery that obscures windows and doors.

- Never hide a key outside of your house.

- In the summer, turn off the water heater and set your A/C at about 82 degrees to control humidity. For a winter getaway, turn your thermostat down to about 50 degrees.

- Clean perishables out the refrigerator and cupboards. Turn off your ice-maker.

- Unplug your TV, computer, and other electronics in case of a lightning surge or use a surge protector.

- Have a neighbor hold a spare key and check on the house periodically — if a water pipe breaks or you left the iron on, they can prevent further damage.

- Stop your mail delivery at the post office (and don't forget the newspaper).

- Ask a neighbor to drag a garbage can in front of your house on trash day and park in your driveway.

- Leave automatic sprinkler systems running. Have someone mow your lawn or rake your leaves.

- Put timers on lamps near windows so they will turn on and off in the evenings.

- Install motion-activated lights outside the house.

- Turn the ringer down on all phones.

- Don’t announce your absence on your answering machine, and don't put notes on your door, such as “Take deliveries next door.”

- Secure storage sheds, attic entrances, and gates.

- If you must park in your driveway, remove garage door openers and keys, and lock the car doors.

- Move small valuables to a safe deposit box or safe.

- Check with your police department about property identification programs for valuables.

- For added peace of mind, prepay bills so you won't have to worry about them while you're away.

And enjoy your summer, wherever you are!