Whether you’re going on an exciting trip over a school break, headed for a job interview in a different city, or just visiting home for the weekend, leaving your apartment every so often is good for you. However, in the excitement and stress of heading out of town, sometimes your apartment’s safety gets lost on the list of things to do. These tips may seem obvious, but will help ensure that when you get home, the only thing you have to worry about is unpacking.

1. Don’t leave keys under the mat

This seems obvious, but year-round, it is a good practice to keep your keys with you, or in a safe location within your apartment. Especially when leaving town, make sure not to leave your keys in such a commonly searched area. Your safety is more important than your convenience!

2. Lock your windows

Getting fresh air in your apartment feels so nice, especially with the nicer weather moving in. However, shutting the windows alone is not enough. When closing your windows, make sure to lock them so they can’t be opened from the outside. This is especially important when heading out of town since most break-ins occur from windows and doors being carelessly left unlocked.

3. Close your blinds

Not only can closing your blinds help with electricity bills when it’s warm outside, but by denying intruders the obvious opportunity to monitor whether or not you’re home, you’ll help protect your apartment. If the blinds are open, it will become quickly apparent that your apartment is unoccupied.

4. Turn your toilets off

One of the worst possible scenarios to come home to would be water damage. By turning your toilets off using the valve at the back, if there is an issue with the apartment’s water while you are out of town, you’ll protect your property from a potentially devastating situation. To go a step further, you can also turn your washing machine off using a similar valve at the back. If you can’t figure out how to turn these off, contact your landlord.

5. Take valuables with you

Unfortunately, sometimes even when all precautions are taken, break-ins still occur. To prevent a larger tragedy, be sure to bring all valuables with you. Anything that you couldn’t live without or afford to replace should leave town with you.

6. Turn down your heat -- but don’t turn it off

If you’re going out of town during the winter months, it’s a good idea to turn down your heat in order to save money on the bills. However, as a safety measure, make sure not to turn the heat all the way off. If it gets too cold, turning off the heat can lead to frozen pipes, which can lead to further damage.

7. If you’re gone for a while, have a friend check in

Although taking precautions can help you avoid a potentially disastrous situation upon arriving back at home, the best way to actually ensure your home’s safety will be through a set of eyes. If you are leaving your apartment for an extended period of time, such as the summer, it’s a good idea to give a trusted friend a key to check in on the place every so often.

Following these tips may seem like a hassle when there’s a million other things to check off your list before leaving town, but helping your apartment stay safe in any way possible will save you the much bigger hassle of dealing with a break-in, a pipe burst, or any other number of things that could go wrong while you’re out of town.

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