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by Neal Goulet on Jul 7, 2014

Swimsuit? Check.

Sunscreen? Check.

Peace of mind knowing that everything is safe and secure at home while you’re on vacation? Better double-check. 

July and August are the most popular months for vacations – and for residential break-ins, according to the Insurance Information Institute

In other words, when the homeowner is away, the bad guys will play.

But there are steps you can take to keep your home safe while you’re on vacation. We have done the work of compiling six tips and offering them here so that you can spend your time packing. 

1. Ask a neighbor to help: Knowing your neighbors comes in handy in many instances, even if it’s just to keep an eye on your place when you head out of town. They might even water your plants or bring in your garbage cans. Just be sure to return the favor when it’s their turn to get away.

2. Stop newspaper and mail deliveries: When the newspaper piles up at the foot of your driveway, the headline screams, “We are not home.” It’s better to request vacation holds of your newspaper and mail deliveries. 

3. Keep your plans to yourself: Those beach photos that you post every 10 minutes on Facebook, telling the world exactly where you are and what you are doing? They surely are the envy of everyone back home – but they also broadcast to the world that you are away. Post the photos when you get home. 

“Be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail too,” offers independenttraveler.com. “Callers don't need to know that you're not home – they just need to know that you can't come to the phone right now.”

4. Turn off the lights: Lights are a deterrent to crime, but leaving them on 24 hours per day is a waste of energy, and it might look suspicious at 3 in the morning. Purchase a timer to simulate the on/off patterns when you are home. 

5. Leave curtains and blinds in normal positions: “Anyone watching your house can learn your normal patterns; leaving the blinds closed when you normally don't says you're away,” according to Money.MSN.com. 

6. Cut the grass: Perhaps that kindly neighbor (see No. 1) will tend to your lawn, or you can hire someone to do the job. Otherwise, unusually tall grass suggests that you’re away or lazy, neither of which reflects well on you. 

By following these tips, your home sweet home will be a home “safe” home while you’re away. 

Enjoy your vacation. And don’t forget to use that sunscreen. 

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