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Vacation Prep

Summer often means travel time. Each year, an estimated two-thirds of American families hit the open road for a summer vacation.

This means, of course, that about two-thirds of American families' homes are empty for some extended period during those days of sun and fun. Empty houses are vulnerable to any number of dangers. But take a few simple precautions before you leave, and you can dramatically reduce your risk of damage, theft, or all-consuming worry during your getaway.

  1. Secure the perimeter: Lock your windows and doors and draw your curtains or shades. Use a couple of inexpensive timers to turn lights off and on during the evening. You can even unplug the motor to your garage door opener to prevent someone from opening it with a compatible opener.
  2. Reduce interior risks: Unplug small appliances, computers, and entertainment devices. (This will not only reduce fire risk, it will reduce your electric bill a bit!) Turn off your water to prevent leaks or water damage from broken pipes.
  3. Remember the exterior: Hold mail and newspaper deliveries. (Nothing says "We're out of town!" quite like an overstuffed mailbox.) Mow the lawn and water plants well before you leave to keep the property looking kept and occupied. Cover and secure your pool.
  4. Recruit some extra eyes: Leave a trusted friend or neighbor your keys and contact information, and ask them to keep an eye on things (and contact you if there's a problem). If you have a Neighborhood Watch program, you may also want to alert your watch captain that you'll be away.

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