If you’re the kind of person who spends the first 10 minutes of the Uber ride to the airport worrying that you accidentally left the oven on — even if you didn’t even use the oven that day — you can quell your anxious brain with a quick smartphone precaution.
Photo by Nicole Dieker.
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No, I’m not referring to one of those home automation apps that will tell you whether your doors are locked and your heat is on — although those are pretty cool.
I’m suggesting you go simpler: Before leaving the house, take a photo of your stove and oven dials — or your thermostat, or your iron, or anything else you worry about accidentally leaving on. If your brain starts to play the “Did I really turn it off” game, you can simply tap your photo app and see for yourself.
We Worry for Good Reason
I started taking pre-holiday photos after my landlord upgraded the heating system in my apartment building and gave us all new thermostats. This was in winter, right before I left on my holiday travels, and since the thermostats were so new that I hadn’t yet become accustomed to them I spent the whole first day of the trip worrying that I had forgotten to turn the thermostat down.
Not all of us are the types of people who worry about things like that, of course. But those of us who do generally worry for good reason — my current oven, for example, turns its indicator light off when it reaches its preheated temperature. This means I left the oven on more than once, assuming it was off because none of the lights were on. Now I know to check the dials, not the lights.
We also worry about forgetting to turn things off, especially when we go on holidays, because the process of leaving for a holiday is so different from our usual habits. When we leave our homes to go to work, for example, we usually follow a specific routine. We wear the same types of clothes and carry the same bags. We say “keys, wallet, phone,” tap our pockets, or check our apps to make sure we have everything we need. Then we leave our homes and lock our doors.
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When we go on holiday, the routine is different, the clothes are different, the bags are different, everything is different — and suddenly we can’t remember whether we closed the door, much less locked it.
So I started taking photos.
You Take the Photo So You Don’t Need It
I take photos before I go on long trips to give myself proof that the oven dials are in the right place and the thermostats are turned off. The funny thing is that I’ve never once wanted to look at this proof after I’ve photographed it; it also turns off the part of my brain that gets anxious about accidentally leaving something on.
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This could be because the photo has now become part of the routine. Or it could be that the process of taking the photo is complex enough to stick in my memory — instead of giving my thermostats a quick glance, I’m pausing to frame the shot.
The important thing is that it works. I can think about how fun the holiday is going to be, instead of mentally retracing my steps and hoping they paused in front of the stove. Plus — as a bonus — if something happens to my apartment while I was away, I have photo proof that it wasn’t because I accidentally left the oven on or the window open.