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Planning your vacation can be exciting, but the preparation might be more than you anticipate. In addition to pulling out the suitcases and travel supplies, don’t overlook some very important steps to prepare and protect your home while you’re away. Here are a few pointers.

How long will you be gone?

Generally speaking, most plumbers do not recommend shutting off your water if you’re only gone for a week or so. Sediment in the pipes can settle and then shoot into your appliances, causing damage. However, if you’ll be gone for an extended period, you might want to enlist the help of a friend to periodically run your faucets, flush toilets, and run empty cycles of dishes and clothes. Also, many current water heater models have a “vacation mode,” which heats the water less frequently than normal.

You’ll also want to turn off your pool heater and prep for hurricane season by securing or storing all outdoor furniture and freestanding items, such as plant pots, birdbaths, and other decorations.

More practical considerations.

Designate a lieutenant — it’s best to have someone in charge while you’re gone. This can be a friend or neighbor, but it should be someone you trust with an extra set of keys and your alarm passcodes. Your “lieutenant” can serve as your emergency contact, bring in mail, switch lights on and off, feed your cat, and keep things (like water) running smoothly. In lieu of a lieutenant, you could stop your mail and install timers for your lights.

Don’t broadcast your absence — before or during — on social media. For that matter, consider carefully which neighbors you’ll inform.

Notify your major credit cards and home security company that you’ll be out of town. Test your home alarm and replace smoke alarm batteries. Mow and weed your yard (you don’t want an unkempt lawn to signal your absence). Make sure all exterior lights are in good working order and are turned on or are equipped with a light/motion sensor.

Lock all windows and doors, especially the door between your garage and home. Unplug unnecessary appliances such as toasters and coffee makers. Adjust your thermostat to kick in less frequently depending on the weather.

Extend your relaxation time.

Last but not least, consider how you’ll feel when you get back home. Exhausted? Sunburned? Achy? Is there anything about your house that could cause you more stress, like dust bunnies?

It’s bad enough to have to unpack, do laundry, and go through all your snail mail and email. Give yourself another break by circumventing at least a portion of the inevitable.

Before you leave for vacation, clean your house. Vacuum and dust. Take out the trash. Clean the baths. Leave an empty and clean dishwasher. Empty your frig of perishable items, but make sure to stock something (even if it’s a frozen pizza) you can eat when you get home.

Your “vacation self” will thank you.

June 19, 2017