9 Things You Should Check Before You Leave the House

It’s common to feel some anxiety over making sure your home will be safe while you are gone. You can reduce this stress by forming checklists that help you get everything in order before you leave.

A checklist reassures you that everything important has been taken care of before you walk out the door. Going through your checklist before you leave the house will become second nature for you if you follow the same steps each day.

It can be hard to remember all the additional tasks required to leave your house or apartment when you’re rushing out the door. That is why taking a few minutes to compose a list on your phone or tablet can save you a great deal of stress later.

1. Consult Your To-Do Lists

Whether your “to do” list is on a notepad, on the refrigerator or your phone, take a moment to review it as you’re getting ready to go. You may need to bring something to the post office or return a dish to a friend. Checking your list will remind you to pack everything you need and place it by the front door or in your bag. It can also help you plan out your day so you know what your schedule will look like.

2. Take Care of Your Pets

Taking care of your pets is a no-brainer, but it can be easy to miss essential tasks if you oversleep or are in a hurry. Make sure your pets have food and water for the day. If necessary, make sure they have been let out before you leave the house. Clean and replace any litter where required. If your pet stays in a crate while you’re gone, double-check the latch to make sure it’s securely locked.

If you are going away for more than a day and have a pet sitter coming, make sure all your instructions are clearly outlined and that all necessary pet supplies are on hand. If you are taking your pets to a kennel or a friend’s house, consult your list to make sure you have everything he or she will need in your absence.

3. Set Your Timers and Alarms

Many people use timers to give the appearance that someone is always home. Home improvement stores sell timers for lamps, TVs and sound systems that come on at key times of the day or night. Your home security system may include an option to electronically control lights, appliances and even window shades from anywhere on your phone. Additionally, if you have a security system, make sure you switch it on when leaving the house.

4. Turn off Electronics and Appliances

If you are going to be away for more than a day, unplug anything that does not need to be plugged in while you’re away. This will protect costly electronics if a lightning storm or power surge occurs when you’re not home. In addition, unplugging can shave a significant amount off your power bill. Computers, printers and treadmills can use up to six watts per hour even when not in use.

Related Article: How to Lower Your Electricity Bill

If you are going on a longer trip, it is wise to unplug other appliances, including your washer and dryer, microwave oven, coffee maker and toaster. Although the chance of a fire from any of these is remote, unplugging helps remove that risk.

Furthermore, turning off the water supply to your home virtually eliminates the possibility of water damage while you are away. This is particularly important if you live in a location that experiences freezing temperatures in the wintertime.

5. Quick-Check the Kitchen and Bathrooms

Make sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher. It doesn’t take long for dirty dishes to create a real odor problem that will also attract bugs and mice. If you will be gone for several days, sprinkle some baking soda down the drain to keep it smelling fresh. Check your trash can as well. If there is anything smelly from last night’s dinner, take the garbage out before you leave for the day.

Longer trips require turning off the gas to your stove and other natural gas-powered appliances. Make sure there aren’t any damp clothes left inside your washer or dryer, and check to see that all toilets have been flushed. Sprinkling baking soda into the toilet and bathroom drains before outings can help those rooms smell fresh on your return.

6. Reset the Thermostat

Remember to check the thermostat before you leave the house. As a rule of thumb, set your thermostat to 80 degrees when you’re not home in the summertime. This allows your air conditioner to run less frequently, but does not permit the house to get too hot.

If you use a heater in the winter, set your thermostat to 60 or 65 when you’re away. You can also buy a wireless thermostat and control the settings with your smartphone.

7. Close Windows and Doors

Double-check all doors and windows before you leave the house. It is easy to forget to close a bathroom or kitchen window cracked open for fresh air, but you do not want to provide potential intruders with an easy opening into your home. Be sure to lock window locks and all exterior doors. If you have sliding glass doors, lay a piece of wood in the track to keep it from being easily jammed open.

Even though natural light helps to wake you up in the morning, be sure to close the blinds or curtains before heading out for the day. This is especially important on ground-floor windows. You do not want to make it easy for potential intruders or nosy neighbors to see inside your house while you’re away.

8. Grab your Phone and Other Belongings

Make sure you grab your phone and a charger or portable power source before heading out the door. Nothing is worse than discovering while you’re out and about that you forgot your phone or it’s dead and you don’t have a charter.

Additionally, always make sure you have your wallet, license or ID and any credit or debit cards before leaving the house. Without a form of identification, you may not be able to enter certain places or frequent age-restricted businesses.

9. Take your Keys and Leave One Behind

Make sure your house keys are in hand when you leave. You don’t want to leave the house and go through your day only to realize when you get home that you cannot enter the house. Make sure you place your keys somewhere you can easily locate while leaving the house to minimize your risk of locking yourself out.

If you are going out of town for more than a day, consider leaving a spare key with a trusted neighbor or relative. You may be able to ask him or her to house-sit while you are gone.

Related Article: How to Find a Good House Sitter

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