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You’re taking a vacation to relax, so here’s what you need to do to protect your home while away, to make sure you come back relaxed and get to stay that way!

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Ah, summer. The season of outdoor play, weekends away, and happy days.

Like most folks on this continent, you’re probably rubbing your hands with glee as you think ahead to lazy times and holiday fun as the summer unfolds.

To help you better enjoy your vacation plans, here’s a list of great ways to be a proactive homeowner while you’re enjoying your holidays.

1. Phone a friend

Everyone should have a friend or neighbor aware that they’re away on vacation. A set of vigilant eyes certainly won’t hurt your peace of mind while you’re away. If you trust them, give them a set of keys so they can inspect the place every couple days to make sure nothing crazy is going on.

2. Be cautious on social media

Facebook and Twitter are often where we brag about our vacations and glorious moments, but if you’ve got a public account, you’re also helping thieves know when your home is ripe for the picking.

If you’ve got great security, watchful neighbors, and other cautionary behavior on your side, maybe it doesn’t matter if the whole world knows you’re off to New Orleans for two weeks, you lucky dog. But still, you might want to clamp down on your privacy settings while you’re toe-tapping your way through NOLA’s French Quarter.

3. Lights, camera, action!

Some light-timers can go a long way to making your home secure. Leaving lights on 24/7 is as conspicuous as a clown at a funeral, but selected lights on timers — especially when they come on at different times — is a trusted home security measure. If you can rig your TV on a timer too, that’s also helpful.

If you vacation a lot, or plan an extended vacation, it might also be handy to invest in something like a motion-activated spy camera with night-vision that you can access remotely anywhere in the world. It can give you additional peace of mind for a few hundred dollars.

4. Unplug and turn off

When you’re off unplugging from your life, make sure your appliances get a break too. Unplug everything you can. Turn off power bars.

With the home itself, shut off the gas for what should be obvious safety reasons. Water lines to the home should also be shut off, even if you’re just going away for a weekend, since water damage happens quickly. If you have a sump pump, ensure it’s working before you go, for the same reason — floods are a bad thing to return home for.

5. The air conditioner

It can be bad for your home to become too cold or too hot. From wood buckling to doors not closing properly, an overheated home can really do a number on the wood in your house. Keep the air conditioner on, but keep it at a high threshold, like 85 degrees or a bit warmer. That’ll be fine for protecting your home.

6. Curtains and blinds

A lot of folks will tell you to close up the curtains and blinds so no one knows you’re not there. The problem with this is, if cops come by to peer in after any reported weirdness, they can’t get a look either.

The “all the blinds down” look isn’t the most subtle approach either, especially if you’ve had a habit of opening your windows wide for Mr. Sunshine every day. Instead, do a mix that is similar to your usual pattern.

7. Put folks on notice

From the postal service to the cops, you’re doing yourself a favor to notify authorities when you’re away. Unless you’re sure your mail will be collected by your checking-in friend while away, it’s wise to put a stop to delivery on a temporary basis. Mounds of mail poking out of your box are a signal to thieves, so let’s avoid any of that.

As for the cops, if they know you’re out of town, it can help them better deal with any fishy business that could be reported when you’re tough to reach because you’re swilling wine while listening to some old NOLA jazz master. If you’re lucky, dispatch will let patrols know so they keep an eye out on nightly ride-bys.

8. Double-check security measures in advance

Make sure you’ve recently tested all your window and door locks. Do they remain secure? Is a pet door still a point of access? Do everything you can to ensure locking down will make your home secure.

This can include security bolts to limit how far windows can open, getting rid of your trusty spare key outside, consulting your security alarm company so they know you might have visitors or guests checking on the home, and anything else you can think of.

9. Give plants an edge with watering globes

Watering globes are handy for things like extended vacation when a friend maybe can’t come by more than once every 5 to 7 days. Ads might tell you they’re a two-week problem solver. Well, if you’re talking about arid plants like succulents that don’t need a lot of water, perhaps, but if it’s a water-guzzling tropical, it’ll absorb the water much faster.

Make sure you friend still “waters” your plant, but if they can refill the watering globes, too, it’ll give them leeway for a few days, especially with big thirsty tropicals,.

A little diligence goes a long way

In the end, you have nothing to lose from being overly cautious and taking all the steps you can to protect your home. No one ever regrets coming home to a safe, secure, functioning home.

We’ve all had friends return to water damage, fires, and other tragedies after vacations. This is how you prevent yourself from joining the rank and file of The Statistics.

Now go have a good vacation. You’ve earned this!

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.