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You’ve booked your trip, researched the must-see attractions, recharged your electronics, packed your bags — and now you’re ready to lock the door and take off on your big vacation. (In your dreams if you think it’s that easy).

These tips will help – especially for families who are new to UAE.

1. Turn off your main water and gas supply. Leaks happen – and they can happen while you’re away. Since nothing ruins the glow of a good vacation like returning to a flooded home, turn off your main water supply if you’re going to be gone for a week or more. Also turn off your main gas connection, in some apartment blocks with central gas the pressure is not as stable as you might and you keep saying, hey I’m in apartment nothing is going to happen…Big mistake! After working in the industry and reading about fires, leaks and other risks, I started switching off my gas supply every night. Most switches can be found mainly in your kitchen, switch it off for a peace of mind. If the switch is not available contact your property management company for assistance. If you live in a villa and use cylinders, make sure they are disconnected from the stove and stored outside the house in a shaded area. 

Tip: Smelling gas? Fill an empty spray bottle with soapy water and spray. On the stove or cylinder. If it bubbles then you have a gas leak.

stillpluggedin4002. Unplug all electronics. Yep, even if they’re not on, your electronics are energy vampires. Unplug your TV, microwave, toaster oven — anything that needs to be juiced — to save on your electricity bill. Don’t forget to switch off your water heater, sitting weeks not used might cause major damages from leaks to more structural damages if had a short.

As a plus, you’ll also help prevent an electrical fire.

3. Invest in a timer. Despite this county being considered super safe, nothing scream “Come rob me!” like a house with the lights continually off.  Deter would-be burglars by putting timers on lights in different rooms. Set them to go on and off at various times throughout the night and no one will know you’re not actually there.

home safe4. Anything valuable? Y’all need to invest in a safety box at your bank. Why travel with jewelry when it can kept safe and sound in a bank. If that is not your style, invest in a personal safe where you can store your valuable items.  These can be picked up at ACE or any other home store.

5. Adjust your thermostat. If you live in a place where AC is a must during the summer months, adjust the thermostat a bit to save on your electricity bill. A good rule of thumb is to keep it a few degrees higher than normal. (So if you usually keep it at 21, change it to 26.) By not turning off the AC completely, you’ll keep enough air circulating to control humidity and mold.

6. Pour baking soda down your drains and toilet. Baking soda is amazingly useful. When you combine it with vinegar, it freshens your drain (and helps clear clogs too). Pour about a cup down your drain and toilet to avoid playing “What’s that smell?” when you get home.

7. Seal open boxes of food and dried goods and empty the fridge. You know the saying: When the cat’s away, the mice will play. But that doesn’t mean they need to play in your pantry. Have your fridge clean from any veggies or fruits. Check the dairy products and dispose milk, cheese and thing that will expire soon.

By putting your dried goods (pasta, rice, nuts) and other foods in airtight containers, you’ll deter any critters from having a field day. You don’t want to return and find your kitchen home to cockroaches. Yuck!

8. Clean your home before you go.  I know, I know. But your post-vacation self with thank you for taking care of the nitty-gritty.  At the very least, wipe down the surfaces, take out the garbage, and vacuum to prevent a critter invasion specially for those living in villas.

Plant9. Plants!! I love my plants, if you’re traveling for more than one week, find someone that can watch them for you. If you trust someone with your house key, let them water your plants for you. Just make sure you add a note on how much water they need.

10. Check up on your insurance. Knowing what your insurance policies covers for household. Check with your insurance today by calling them.

11. Give someone your contact details.  If any of your friends are staying local and not traveling, make sure you provide your contact details abroad. That way in case something happens they know how to reach you.

Now that you’ve ticked off your list, start your count down and don’t forget your passports, tickets and a good camera to capture all those endless memories! Have a wonderful summer!

Contributor:  Zaina Streeter

zaina StreeterZaina Streeter is a facilities manager with Serco – New York University in Abu Dhabi. She is experienced with Health and Safety and always ensures the safety of others – no matter where she is.  She has been an expat for most of her life and currently lives in Abu Dhabi with her husband and son.