The Lovin’ Spoonful said it: “Hot town, summer in the city”. It’s time for a change of scenery. Lots of people are headed to the beach on one coast or the other, or to the mountains, or even out of the country. Before going, there are some steps you should take to keep your home and your belongings safe while you’re gone.

The best case scenario, of course, is to have someone living in the house while you are away. If you have a trusted relative or friend that you can beg or bribe to do that, most of your problems are solved in one fell swoop. They may even be able to take care of your pets, so you won’t have to send them somewhere else.

Assuming that you can’t follow that route, what next? Well, you don’t want newspapers and mail stacking up on your porch or in your mailbox, so you need to arrange to stop the delivery of such things. In many areas, you can do this online or by phone. The post office has an online form you can file.

Nothing says “I’m not home” like the accumulation of advertising fliers and grocery store ads in your yard. Perhaps someone you know can stop by and pick them up. Maybe that same person can come on garbage pick-up day and put out your cans. Of course, they should put them back away after the pick up.

If your house remains dark for several days, people are bound to pick up on the possibility that the home is empty. You should invest in some timers that will turn on different lights at different times, and then turn them off again. Something on the order of the way things would go normally, lighted room-wise.

You might consider hiring someone to care for your lawn and garden while you’re away. The growth of weeds and high grass are a dead giveaway that nobody is around. The same thing goes for snow and ice removal if you vacation in the winter time.

Security is a matter of personal preference (and perhaps of economics). There are systems that are as simple as sensors that make noise when breached to the kind that alerts both your security company and the police of an intrusion. Do what you are able. Be sure to lock all doors and windows before you leave.

A word of caution about your social media habits is in order here. Instead of announcing to the world via Facebook or Twitter that your vacation is imminent, and sending daily updates on your trip, try this. Surprise your friends at the end of the vacation with gorgeous selfies at the Louvre and such. There are people who troll the social media for the purpose of discovering who is vulnerable to an intrusion.

At any rate, the Casey O’Neal team hopes you have a wonderful vacation!