- Secure Your House. Make sure all of your doors and windows, including the ones in your garage, shed, and basement, are closed and locked before you leave. Additionally, check to see if you have any extra keys laying about that are "hidden" behind a mat or a rock. Burglars can easily gain entrance if they know where to search and have a key. Put a piece of wood or a long metal rod on the track of any sliding windows or doors you have to prevent anyone from pushing them open.
- Shut Off the Water. If a pipe bursts while you're away, the incident could result in hundreds of gallons of water flooding your home. Spend some time turning off the water valve before leaving.
- Unplug Appliances and Electronics. Unplug unused equipment and appliances like TVs, lamps, and coffee makers to prevent electrical fires in your home. Additionally, make sure the smoke alarms in your home are in good working order.
- Set your A/C and heating system. Don’t completely turn off your air conditioning or heating system. If you’re going away when it’s warm, set your A/C to about 10 degrees below the outside temperature so big appliances don’t have to work extra hard. If you’re going away in the winter, set your heat to around 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes.
- Clean the Kitchen. Clean the sink trap, wash your dirty dishes, and run vinegar through your garbage disposal. Clean the counters and throw away perishable foods from the pantry and refrigerator. Ensure that the stove and oven are off.
- Empty the trash. To be fair, cleaning includes removing the trash. However, it bears repeating that you should certainly take the trash out before you leave if you clean out your refrigerator. If you don't, you face the risk of returning home to a house filled with pests and foul odors.
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