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THE HOME OWNER'S CHECKLIST FOR A WORRY-FREE VACATION

It's the season for vacationing. With lower air fares and reasonable gas prices, many Americans are headed out of town this summer. Planning a trip means more than just pulling out a map and taking off from work. It also should include a "vacation checklist" of things to do to protect your home and valuables while you are away.

Regardless of how long you'll be gone, it's important to be sure that your home has a lived-in appearance. Tell-tale signs that invite burglars or vandals include overgrown lawns, piled-up newspapers, a full mailbox and no lights at night.

This checklist will help you enjoy your vacation with the knowledge that you haven't forgotten to take the proper steps to protect your home.

  • Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail, or go to the post office and place a hold on delivery until you return.
  • Call your newspaper's circulation department and request a vacation hold; some papers require 48 hours notice.
  • Plug certain lights into automatic timers. These devices are inexpensive and are among the most effective means of giving your home a lived-in appearance. They will also make it more difficult for a burglar to work undetected by your neighbors. Some models have variable-interval timers, which alter the times at which your lights go on and off from day to day.
  • Leave a radio turned on. Tune it to an all-news or talk-show station. A burglar would have a tough time deciding if the voices are coming from the radio or the people living in the home.
  • Arrange to have someone cut your grass. Leave a house key with a friend or neighbor in case of emergencies. This person also could open and close shades and drapes to alter the appearance of your home.
  • Prune shrubbery around the house near windows and doors so that potential entrances are not obscured.
  • Let the police know if you are going to be away for an extended period. In some communities, they will occasionally be able to check on your home while you're gone.
  • Leave an itinerary with a neighbor or relative in case you need to be reached in an emergency.
  • Just before you leave, be sure that all appliances are turned off and that all windows and doors are securely locked.
  • Don't hide keys under the door mat, in flower pots or any place outside the home. Burglars know all the usual hiding places.
  • Separate house keys from car keys. Put them on different key rings. Burglars have been known to take jobs as parking attendants just to make copies of house keys that are left with them.
  • Be suspicious of telephone survey questions that ask how many televisions or what type of stereo or video cassette player you have. The person on the other end may be a thief trying to decide if your home is worth the effort.
Neighbors, relatives and police are your best friends when you're away. If you remember too late that you left the iron on, you can call the friend who has your key instead of turning around on the freeway! And when it's their turn for a summer vacation, you can return the favor.


 
 

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