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Cornell University

Going Away Checklist

A checklist for keeping your home safe and sound while you are away.

Make Some Calls  

  • Tell your neighbors/property manager/landlord you are going away. 

  • Give them your contact information. 

  • Temporarily stop newspaper or other deliveries (or have a neighbor bring stuff in). 

  • Have the post office hold your mail until you return. 

  • 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 & Reprogram 

  • Unplug the automatic garage door opener; doublecheck the door is fully closed.

  • Unplug electronics and computers. 

  • Reprogram the heater in the winter to keep heat above 55F to avoid freezing pipes. 

  • Reprogram the AC in the summer to between 81F and 85F. 

  • Put lights on a timer. Put TV or music on a timer. 

  • Ensure there are fresh batteries in all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors Unplug your landline phone or send all calls to voicemail. 

Clean & Clear 

  • Clean out your fridge. 

  • Check that 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 (leave washer door open to avoid mildew). 

  • Clean the sink and wipe dry. 

Pets & 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. 

  • 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. 

  • Mark all your possessions with your own security mark. 


  • Check that your insurance is up-to-date on contents value. 

  • Compile a list of all your possessions using photographs or video. 

  • Record serial numbers and all other identifying information. 

  • Check with insurance company to make sure there aren't any rules requiring that someone check in regularly at your home during your absence. 


  • Keep important computer files backed up and hidden elsewhere. 

  • Keep your keyholders list up to date. 

  • No keys/valuables should be visible. 

  • Lock away all tools and ladders. 

Social Media 

  • Keep your movements confidential except to those who need to know. 

  • Do not announce on your voice mail message that you will be away for an extended period of time. 


  • Make sure to adhere to all parking regulations (e.g., odd/even parking).