Lileks: Tips for keeping your house in order during vacations

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 10, 2013 - 4:59 PM

If you are planning that late-summer vacation — and if you’ll excuse me, I just wrote “late summer” and would like to take a few moments to weep uncontrollably — then you must keep in mind these pre-trip preparations to keep your house safe.

Set the light timers. This is critical for home security. If anyone is watching your house, they will be discouraged by lights that turn on and off at the same time every evening. Curses! Once again, his punctual nighttime home-illumination schedule indicates he has moved from the living room to the basement for 43 minutes, where he will be until 4:05 a.m. Let’s give up.

You always worry you left the iron on. Only way to be sure: 1) Take a picture with your cellphone of the iron unplugged; 2) Cut the cord with scissors; 3) Hand the iron to the cabdriver; 4) Take a picture of the iron in the cab as it pulls away from the airport, and 5) Realize you left the oven on.

Leave signs that indicate a large, intemperate dog might be around, such as a thick leash, gnawed femurs, a chalk outline on the patio.

Stop your paper. Nothing says, “Hello, burglars; help yourself” like a pile of papers on the stoop. You’ll be asked if you’d like to donate your paper to schools. You say “yes,” but then you remember school is out, and the papers will accumulate outside the school, and it will be burglarized, and it’s your fault.

Stop your mail. They’ll ask what you want the Post Office to do with your mail. Oh, just burn it, you think. No — read it, then give me a summary over the phone. “So, mostly catalogs and coupons for blinds and tub replacement. You want us to bring it over?” No, donate it to a school.

Upload a video tour of your possessions to a cloud account, so if anything is stolen, it will be easy to file a claim. Note: If the video of your high-end home entertainment system includes a fellow who says, “Can I help you?” and wears a Best Buy shirt, the insurer may balk.

This is what I did; returned to find everything as we left it. Plus a big box from Amazon I forgot was coming, two community newspapers I couldn’t stop, and three fliers on the doorknob. Other than that, the illusion of occupancy was absolutely perfect.

 

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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