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Please feel free to download the checklist at the end of this article so that you can save it to your computer, phone or tablet, or print to use when organizing to go away on a summer vacation.
13 Things to do Before you Leave for Summer Vacation
1) Turn Off the Main Water Supply
Although it is true that many small leaks in water supply lines are usually hidden from view, and from sound, the leaks can quickly develop into major problems. If a leak develops while you are away on your summer vacation there is no one home to notice a small leak that is either pooling water or one that has expanded into a larger leak. By turning off the water main you also avoid the potential for your hot water heater to leak if it fails. Most homes in Hingham and surrounding towns are configured so that by shutting off the main water valve, outside water is still on, therefore allowing irrigation or sprinklers to function. There is no negative effect from turning off your water main whatsoever, and it could save you thousands of dollars in potential damage.
2) Check the Sump Pump
Not everyone has a sump pump in Hingham, but they do seem to be common in many South Shore homes. If there is a drenching rain and the water levels cause your basement sump pump to turn on, you certainly do not want it to fail while you are away. If a major storm comes through and your pump fails, the basement could flood. Test it out by filling the sump pump pit with enough water to trip the power on.
3) Keep Flowers Alive With a Soaker Hose
If you don’t have an in-ground sprinkler system or if your irrigation is not designed for flower and vegetable gardens, run a soaker hose through these areas and attach that hose to a timer.
4) Use Timers for All Areas Needing Water
Get some timers for your outdoor hoses and set lawn sprinklers to every 3 or 4 days for a long period of watering so that the roots of your lawn get deeply soaked. Then set separate timers for any flower or vegetable gardens since they might need less watering time but with the same frequency as your lawn. If you have potted plant materials move them into the same area as your garden or along the perimeter of your lawn area to be covered by what you have already set up. Be sure to adhere to your town’s water restrictions when setting the timer schedules.
5) Unplug Electronics
Many of us have surge protector strips where we plug in arrays of electronic devices. This makes it very easy to make sure things are unplugged before you leave for your vacation. Simply turning the power off with the switch on your surge protector is enough, but for extra protection against lightning, unplug them. Often there are devices requiring direct plug-ins. Things like televisions, computers, wifi extenders are usually plugged directly into the wall rather than into a surge protector so don’t forget to pull the plugs on these things. You will also save money by disconnecting items from their power source since many things use power when they are not being used.
Consider this fact from the Department of Energy: It is estimated that the average U.S. family spends $100 annually to power devices that are turned off or in standby mode.
6) Light Rooms With Timers
Make the effort to stage your home to look lived in while you are away. One of the best ways to do this is to put several lights on timers. This of course makes your home look occupied while you are away. Even better is to stagger the timers so that the same arrangement of lights do not turn on at the exact same time every day. Use lights in different rooms of your house, and if you can, use a bathroom with the shades down.
7) Keep Air Conditioning On
By all means, turn up the temperature on your thermostat so that the air conditioning will still come on while you are away, but hopefully you have a programmable thermostat. This way you can set and hold the temperature to something like 82 degrees while you are away, and then get the climate down to 72 or 74 degrees the day before you arrive home. If you have smart climate controls such as the Nest, you can control your home temperature remotely. It is important to NOT switch the power off to your air conditioner or your furnace. These things will keep the air circulating so that condensation doesn’t build up. You also want to avoid high heat inside of your home because it can impact wood flooring, cabinets and wooden doors.
8) Do Not, I Repeat, DO NOT Post Details of Your Vacation to Social Media
This is now THE top rated burglary and theft information portal for criminals so refrain from posting to Facebook , Instagram or the like while you are away. Photographs are usually tagged with your geolocation and then added to the “Check-in” section, complete with a map. Imagine how easy it would be to scour Facebook timelines for the details of someone’s vacation – all in present tense. If you trust all of your Facebook friends and Instagram followers, and if you trust your attention to technical detail enough to protect your information then go ahead and share away, Otherwise, skip it and just don’t add posts until you return.
9) Stop Mail and Newspapers
This is an oft forgotten detail when leaving but it is another preventative measure. Go to the local post office and fill out a hold mail card and call your newspaper subscription service to hold all papers until you return. If your time away is extended, it might be worthwhile to have your mail and papers forwarded to you.
10) Alarm Company
Notify your alarm company of your travel dates and plans. If there are any people coming into your home to water plants, check on things, or clean etc, be sure to give the alarm company the names and phones numbers these individuals.
11) Indoor Plants
Many indoor plants will do well if you bring them outside for their own summer vacation. Be sure to put any house plants in fully shaded areas so that their leaves won’t burn in the direct sun. Remember that house plants are never in the direct sun. There is always a pane of glass, UV glass, and/or screens in between them and the power of the sun. Better to have them fully protected while you are away. You could also have a trusted individual come over to mind them once a week.
12) Bills, Checks and Account Information
If your vacation dates occur during times when bills are due, make sure you bring along your checkbook, account information, envelopes and stamps. Some people find it easier to stamp and address envelopes before leaving. You can even write out the checks, if you use checks, and seal the envelopes. Then add small sticky notes as reminders. If you pay online, have your usernames and passwords handy.
13) To Compute or Not to Compute
Vacations from Wifi are becoming an ancient artifact, so pack that small book you have with all of your online account usernames, passwords etc.
Download this convenient summer vacation checklist!