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RISMEDIA, February 11, 2011—With school vacations approaching, many lucky families are planning trips to cure their winter blues. Here are some important things to remember if you leave your home for several days.

1. Turn down your thermostat, but don’t shut it off. You shouldn’t set your thermostat any lower than 55 degrees in order to protect your pipes from freezing.

2. Arrange for snow removal in your absence in case there’s a storm while you are away. Massachusetts law requires residents to clear their own sidewalks and walkways six hours after a storm takes place and you’re not off the hook if you are out of town.

3. Make sure to hold the mail and newspaper. If you can’t have someone pick it up every day, it’s a sure giveaway that nobody’s home and can be a green light for burglars.

4. If possible, leave a key with someone you trust, preferably a neighbor and have them keep an eye on your home while you’re gone. Make sure to offer returning the favor and thank them with a gift when you return.

5. Unplug all electronics that don’t need to used like the television, coffee maker, and home computers.

6. Lower the temperature on your water heater.

7. If you can, leave a car in the driveway and use timers to turn on outdoor and indoor lights to give the impression that someone is home. Leaving the porch light on the entire time you’re gone is a bad idea. If you don’t have a timed light, you can leave an interior light on for the duration of your trip as long as you can’t easily notice it during the day.

8. As excited as you may be to go on vacation, avoid advertising it over Facebook and Twitter. Also, keep this in mind while posting updates from your cell phone on vacation.

9. If you have access to one, place all your valuables in a safe or safe deposit box.

10. Remember, if your house is on the market, you can ask your REALTOR® to stop by and check in. While you’re on vacation, it’s a great time for showings because you won’t have schedule conflicts.

If you follow these tips the next time you are out of town, you will most likely protect your house and your peace of mind.

Kelly O’Ryan is the office manager at Coldwell Banker Lexington.

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