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TravelTips
When You Leave For Vacation This Summer, Don't Return To Find Your Belongings On A Vacation Of Their Own. Just Follow These Simple Tips.

Summer vacation time is fast approaching, which means that you might be leaving home. Who better to ask how to protect it than experienced slackers and paranoids? Of course, we’re referring to the Better World Club staff :

Make Your Home Appear to be Lived-in
Install automatic timers to turn lights and radios on and off at appropriate times. Lower the sound of your telephone and answering machine so they cannot be heard from outside and make sure your voicemail message does not imply that you are away. (BWC staffer Chris Merkel has volunteered to come to your house and help make it appear "lived in". Given the look of his office, this should work. Disclaimer: Mr. Merkel is not responsible for the contents of your liquor cabinet or refrigerator.)

Don’t Let Mail or Newspapers Pile Up
Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail, or have it forwarded to the post office. Contact your local newspaper to stop delivery and consider having someone mow your lawn and water the flowers. (And, you, Mary Miller of Newark, Ohio, might consider this even if you’re not going on vacation!) The really paranoid don’t suspend mail/newspaper service, fearing that a malfeaser could track this, but do have a friend collect the mail/newspapers, of course.

Give a Neighbor a Spare Key
Leave a key with a trusted neighbor in case anything happens to your house while you are away, or in case you get locked out. It's usually not a good idea to leave a key hidden outside your house, especially in more urban areas. (And, since you’re already giving him a key, you might as well do him the favor of stocking up on beer, canapés, and music. After all, the party’s on you.)

Protect Your House Keys
Don't give repairmen a key, and don't give people fixing your car your whole set of keys. (Just imagine if they used your towels.) Your house keys can be easily duplicated and your address can usually be obtained from your license plate number.

Change Your Locks
It is usually a good idea to change the locks on your new home when you move in. You never know who might have keys to your house. If your new home does not have deadbolts on all ground-level doors, consider installing them. If a sliding glass door is easily accessible, it is a good idea to put a strip of wood in the lower tract. (And you might consider closing the door once in a while. You’re pretty loud in there.)

Consider Installing an Alarm
You may want to install an alarm if the house doesn't already have one. If you move into a new house with an alarm, make sure you get accurate (written) directions on how to operate it. (Not that we don’t have confidence in you, our revered members.)

Lock Doors and Windows
Check that all windows have locks when you move into a new house. If they don't, install them or replace the window. Or move again. (We’re just thinking of you.)

Leave Your Spouse at Home to Make Sure Nothing Goes Wrong
Win-win.

You’d Better Send a C-Note to the Better World Club Staff Because We Wouldn’t Want Anything To Happen to That Pretty Picture Window of Yours
If you catch our drift…