Prep Your House for Vacation

Is your home vacation ready? HGTV Magazine tells you how to get things settled before leaving for your summer trip.

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Ray Kachatorian

Never announce you're away
Wait until you're home to post vacation pics on Facebook, advises Allstate insurance agent Jim Towns. Also, turn off the volume on your home phone so the ringing won't signal an opportunity to passersby, and don't change your voice mail greeting to say you're out of town.

Eliminate easy access
According to statistics from the FBI, 61% of burglars use force to gain entry, "but they'll often look for open doors and windows first," says Jim Towns. Check that all door and window locks are working (including windows on the second story), and repair any broken glass, particularly in basement windows. Bring in any hidden keys.

Make sure gutters, downspouts, and drains are clear
If water overflows from its proper channels, it can seep under siding and flood the basement.

Enlist a friend's help
Ask a neighbor to check on your house every other day and to bring in any unexpected deliveries, such as phone books, circulars, and FedEx notices. Make sure she has a key to your house.

Flush the toilets
Leave the lid up (just this once) so you don't come home to icky, stagnant water.

Secure the garage
If you're leaving your car at home, park it outside, against the garage door, to block access. Remove garage door remotes from the car and unplug the electric door opener (the box unit attached to the garage ceiling), so the door can't be opened while you're away. Make sure to lock the car and garage doors.

Arm the alarms
Notify your security company that you'll be away. Give a family member or friend your alarm code, the security company's phone number, your itinerary, and your contact numbers. Press the "test" button on your smoke alarms to make sure they work, and change the battery if necessary.

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