Whether you're heading out of town for the weekend or packing up the entire family for an extended vacation, taking the time to make sure your home is protected before hitting the road is necessary. By taking the following tips into consideration, you can go on vacation knowing that your home will be safe and sound while you're away.

1. Make it look like you're home. Install timers on interior lights so they turn on and off periodically. Some timers will even turn the lights on and off at random. Many of today's electronics can also be programmed to turn on and off, set your radio to an all-news or talk show station. 
2. Install exterior lights controlled by motion sensors to make your home a more difficult target for prowlers.
3. Cancel any deliveries for the time you will be away. Be sure to give several days notice so your order can be processed in time.
4. Ask someone to collect any free papers or sales materials left near your house. When fliers and papers are left on a driveway day after day, it's a sure sign that no one is home.
5. Have the post office hold your mail. You can make arrangements online in advance of your vacation; at minimum, three days will be needed to process your request.
6. Ask a friend or neighbor to park a car in your driveway and keep an eye on your place. If there's a crime-watch program, notify the person in charge.
7. If you have an alarm that is monitored, tell the alarm company you'll be away. If possible, provide a phone number where you can be reached.
8. Turn off the main water tap, a water leak can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs and lost valuables.
9.Leave a spare key to your home with someone you trust in case of an emergency. Hiding a key is never a good idea, it may fall into the wrong hands.