We love to take long vacations. I've learned some helpful tips over time to make sure that we've secured our house so we have peace of mind on our vacation.

Unfortunately, we no longer live in the day when you can leave your house unlocked and none of your belongings will be stolen. If you've ever had anything stolen or damaged, you know that violated feeling that comes along with it.

When it comes to securing your house, try seeing things from a burglar's perspective. What things are signals that a house is vacant? A dark house with piles of newspapers in the driveway looks a lot more enticing to a burglar than a lit house with a security system's sticker on the window. Knowing what the vulnerabilities are can help you avoid them.

Here are seven ways to secure your home while on vacation:

1. Install a security system

Although this is an obvious solution, even the presence of an alarm company's sticker is enough to deter most burglars.

2. Make sure you hold your mail and newspapers

The post office makes it easy to hold your mail on-line until you return. And nothing says "rob me" like a pile of newspapers in the driveway.

3. Don't announce that you will be gone, especially not on social networks

Don't think that just your friends see what you post on social network. Strangers can track down your location, leaving your house vulnerable.

4. Install automatic timers for lights

It may sound unnecessary, but people notice patterns in your schedule and if suddenly you aren't pulling in your driveway every day after work, they may suspect you're gone. Little things like automatic light timers can make it appear like someone is home.

5. Clean out the fridge, freezer, and empty all trash before leaving

There's nothing worse than coming home to a fridge full of moldy food. Throw out anything that may spoil. Empty all your trash so that critters and bacteria don't gather there.

6. Turn air conditioning and heating units down to energy saving levels

There's no reason to be paying for a/c or heat while you're gone. Adjust your settings to a neutral level.

7. Have a neighbor or good friend stop by periodically

Even though you've done everything to secure your house, it's hard to predict the future. You may have an unexpected package arrive or even a water pipe break. We've come home to our freezer completely thawed because of a power outage. It's smart to have someone just check your home every once in a while to make sure everything's as it should be.

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