Step 1: Don't Make the Empty House Obvious

You can create the illusion that someone’s home by using timers on lights and radios. Leave the blinds open slightly so light shines out. Disguise the fact that you’re away by stopping mail and newspaper deliveries, or have a neighbor collect them. Packing your car with the garage door closed helps hide the fact you’re leaving.

Put interior and porch lights on timers. Have someone periodically stop by so there’s activity in and out of the house. Having a neighbor park their car in your driveway and putting out trash cans for pickup helps sell the idea too. An unanswered ringing phone is a dead giveaway to thieves, so turn down the volume on ringers.

Step 2: Plan Well for Long Trips

If you’re going to be gone for longer than a month, cover upholstered furniture with sheets to cut down on dust. Opening doors to rooms and closets will improve air flow and make the place feel less musty when you return.

If you’ll be gone for more than a month, store food such as sugar, flour and cereal in sealed containers. You may also want to empty and unplug the refrigerator and defrost the freezer. Propping the door open with a dowel rod and placing an open box of baking soda to absorb odors will keep your refrigerator/freezer in good condition for your return. For added security, disable your garage door opener.

Step 3: Ensure the Home Doesn't Flood

Because it’s under pressure, a burst washer hose could flood your home while you’re away. Shutting off the valve, as well as valves to sinks and toilets is cheap flood insurance.

In cold climates during the winter, turn off the water at the main line and open sink and tub faucets to drain the pipes. Drain and store hoses and insulate any outdoor faucets. Pouring a mixture of half antifreeze and half water into the drain’s P-trap can help prevent pipes from freezing.



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