There is nothing like returning to the comforts of home after a nice long trip or vacation. But what if your homecoming is a big slap in the face? Your fridge, trash or toilet is emitting foul odors. Your basement is flooded. Your belongings ransacked by burglars. Your AC bill is through the roof because you forgot to turn it down during your absence. There are many things that can go wrong. So, next time you travel, use this checklist. Some of these points are pretty obvious but even the obvious is overlooked once in a while. Checklist For Keeping Your Home Safe and Sound While You Are Away MAKE SOME CALLS • Tell your neighbors you are going away. Give them keys and your contact information • Temporarily stop newspaper or other deliveries (or have a neighbor bring stuff in) • Ask a friend or neighbor to bring in packages and move your bins in and out on trash day • Contact your security alarm company; let them know you will be away and provide them with your contact info UNPLUG and REPROGRAM • Unplug the automatic garage door opener; double check the door is fully closed • Unplug electronics and computers • Reprogram heater/AC (keep heat above 55F to avoid freezing pipes) • Put lights on a timer • Put TV or music on a timer • Make sure all taps are turned off • Ensure there are fresh batteries in all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors CLEAN and CLEAR There is nothing worse than returning to a pig sty (except maybe returning to a pig sty that an intruder has sifted through) • Clean out fridge • Check all the toilets are fully flushed • Empty the trash; ask neighbors to put out trash on trash day • Move valuable furniture and upholstery out of line of direct sun to avoid fading • Clear the waste disposal • Do all dirty laundry and empty washer and dryer • Clean the sink and wipe dry • Clear leaves and debris from external drains on patios and yards to prevent flooding PETS and PLANTS • Water plants; Move all plants to one spot so house sitter/neighbor doesn't have to wander around the house looking for plants) • For longer trips. organize plant/yard care • Secure kennel or pet-sitter; leave out instructions, plenty of food/water EXTRA SECURITY • Remove any hidden keys from their secret spots (under the mat, under the flower pot) • Leave blinds in their normal positions • Check with insurance company to make sure there aren't any rules requiring that someone check in regularly at your home during your absence • Park car in driveway • Hire a house sitter or have a neighbor/friend drop in at irregular times on a regular basis. • Double check you have locked all doors and windows, especially in less obvious places like garages and basements What have we missed? Is there anything else one should do to protect their home before a big trip? Images: Night Watch Patrol; Moco News; Bella Savvy; Fox Business.