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If you are planning a long vacation or work trip or need to care for a loved one with medical issues, you should take extra precautions to keep your house safe while you’re gone. A lengthy absence can make your house particularly vulnerable.

Don’t Tell the Whole World You Aren’t Home
Don’t broadcast the fact that you’ll be away online. Burglars use social media to find easy targets. Notify specific people who need to know that you’ll be out of town through phone calls, emails or texts.

Set interior and exterior lights on timers, but avoid a clear pattern. Lights that turn on and off randomly will create the illusion that a house is occupied and deter would-be thieves.

An overstuffed mailbox will make it obvious that you aren’t home. Have your mail forwarded to the address where you’ll be staying, or have a trusted friend or family member pick it up and forward important documents to you.

An unkempt lawn is a clear sign that a homeowner is away. Arrange for someone to cut the grass, rake leaves and remove snow, if necessary.

Keep Your Home and Possessions Safe
If you don’t have a home security system, now would be a great time to install one. In addition to sensors and monitoring, you can utilize cameras and an app to monitor your home on your smartphone. Notify the security company that the house will be unoccupied.

Put valuables that are easy to steal, such as jewelry, in a safe deposit box. Before you leave, double-check that all doors and windows, including those in the garage, are locked.

If you’ll be away for a long time, think about how the weather could change during your absence. Depending on where your home is located, you may need to heat the interior of it to prevent frozen pipes in the winter and pay someone to remove large amounts of snow from the roof.

Have Someone Keep an Eye on Your House
Ask your neighbors to note any suspicious vehicles or activity in the area while you’re gone. You can also give a neighbor you trust a key to check on the house.

Consider paying someone to house-sit while you’re away. A person coming and going every day can make burglars think twice about robbing your home. A house sitter can also handle routine maintenance and lawn care and spot any problems that require repairs. If you have pets, they’ll be much happier at home with a house sitter than at a kennel, and you’ll be able to avoid large boarding fees.

Do All You Can to Safeguard Your Home While You Are away
Your house is probably your most valuable investment. If you’ll be away for a significant amount of time, take precautions to keep your home safe and avoid letting burglars know you’re out of town. You should also contact your homeowners insurance company to make sure you have adequate coverage for theft, fire, vandalism and liability.