Vacation Forget-Me-Nots

There are so many things to do before going on vacation. Sure, you've put a hold on the mail, but did you do this stuff?

Keeping House
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Trotting off to the Galapagos Islands next week? Make sure you hit the items on this list.

1) Tell a trusted neighbor you're taking off.

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Even if they're not collecting fliers from the Chinese restaurant or watering your plants, a neighbor is your home's best friend while you're away. At the very least, they can call 911 if they spot someone on a ladder outside your back window. Make sure they have the key to your home, your burglar alarm code and your cell phone number.

2) Shut off the water valve to the washing machine.

Yes, a washing machine hose can burst (especially if it's old). And if it does, the water damage can be catastrophic. In fact, flood damage from exploded hoses is one of the most popular claims homeowners make with their insurance companies. Just look behind the machine and turn the valve to the right. Done!

3) Let Johnny Law know you'll be away.

If you'll be traveling for a while, tell your local police department. They'll drive by your property during their neighborhood beat to make sure everything's okay. Don't be shy to ask them—preventing crime is part of their job.

4) Lower the blinds.

Don't tempt the boogieman. If you have a $15,000 television set in plain sight, pull down the shades. You'll be sad if you come home and it's gone.

5) Unplug all appliances.

Even if they're not turned on, all electrical devices draw power. Unplug the toaster, computer, microwave, cell phone charger, blender and anything else you can think of. You'll protect your wallet and help the planet, too.

6) Make sure your lawn stays trimmed.

Nothing says “Guess what? We're not home!” like an overgrown yard. If you're going to be gone for more than two weeks, hire a professional or the kid down the street to cut your grass.

7) Lock all your windows and doors (no, this isn't obvious).

Get this: forty-percent of break-ins happen without force. Burglars count on people forgetting to secure every window and door.

Ryan Homes Question: What's one thing you've forgotten before leaving the house on vacation?