- Put your mail on hold. You can arrange for the US Post Office to hold all mail for your address by filing out a simple form online at www.usps.com.
- Let your neighbors or a trusted friend know where and when you're going. Ask a neighbor or a close friend to can keep an eye out for suspicious activity, and give them a copy of your itinerary and contact information so they can reach you in case of emergency.
- Suspend delivery of newspapers. Make sure you suspend delivery while you're away, so that they papers don't pile up.
- Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for packages. Fedex and UPS will still deliver, and you don't want those boxes sitting out on your front step.
- Arrange to keep your driveway, sidewalk, and entryway clear. If there's a storm on the way, ask a neighbor to shovel your walk while you're gone. Just a light dusting of snow? Ask them to walk up to your front door and back a few times, to leave footprints.
- Buy and set timers to turn lights on and off in the rooms you use most while you're home. Worried about being green? Most fluorescent lightbulbs still work with timers.
- Turn on your TV or radio. If your TV screen is visible through a window, and if you usually watch it when you're home, make sure to plug it into a timer, too, so that it looks like someone is watching your favorite shows.
- Reprogram the thermostat to save energy. Why heat the house if you're not in it?
- Double check the stove and range. Not to mention the iron, coffee maker, toaster oven, and anything else that could start a fire if left unattended.
- Plug appliances into a power strip -- and turn them off to minimize the power they use. Appliances like TVs and Computers continue to draw electricity even when not in use.
- Leave a car in the driveway. If you usually keep yours in the garage, ask a friend to stop by once or twice while you're away, so that it looks as if people are coming and going.
- Empty the fridge and take out the garbage. Consume (or give away) perishables before you go. You don't want to come home to a crisper drawer full of moldy, liquified vegetables.
- Put a copy of important documents in a secure location. Whether it's a fire safe in the home, a safety deposit box at the bank, or a file folder at a friends house, make sure you have backup copies of deeds and hard-to-replace documents somewhere else.
- Take important phone numbers with you. Not just the ones you usually keep programmed into your cell phone, either; if your neighbor calls to say your fire alarm is going off, you're going to want to be able to touch base with the fire station yourself, too.
We make long lists of things to take with us when we go on vacation, but what about the stuff we leave behind? This checklist will make sure you have home base covered