Whether you are a snowbird or just taking your family on a vacation this holiday season, there are several things you can do to help protect your vacant home from theft, water damage, heating or possible threats while away.
Make Sure Others Think You are Home
- Forward or stop your mail through the post office.
- Arrange for someone to remove the snow.
- Ask a friend or relative to check on home and remove fliers or other items left by your front door.
- Add exterior motion-sensor lights and interior lights on timers. Set the interior lights to come on at varying times.
Protect Your Home from Thieves
- Install and activate your alarm systems
- Secure external doors and windows with deadbolts, security hinges and sturdy door frames.
- Store valuables that are not with you in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.
- Do not post on social media about traveling until you have returned. Thieves can use this information to learn that your house is vacant.
Avoid Water Damage
- To reduce the risk of water damage from pipe burst or leaks, consider turning off the water supply. Check with your plumber to see what this entails and if it is right for your home as it may also affect your heating system, sprinkler system, etc.
- If you need to keep your water supply on, keep the furnace running to help ensure the home stays warm and pipes do not freeze. The suggested temperature is 55 degrees. You can still shut the water off to certain appliances, like washer, dryer, refrigerator, etc. to avoid any leaks or water damage.
- Consider shutting off and draining any outdoor water faucets to prevent vandalism and freezing damage.
- Have your heating system inspected, fill fuel tanks and have a friend/relative to check on the heat and fuel levels while you are gone.
- Have your home electrical system inspected and repair or replace items that may be needing attention.
- Inspect your roof and clean your gutters to prevent ice build-up.
- Remove any dead trees or overhanging limbs that could damage your house while away.
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances before your leave.
- If you have a telephone land-line, make sure you are able to retrieve your voice mail messages.
Clean your Home to Minimize Pest Invasion
- Clean your home thoroughly to minimize the reasons for any pests to move in.
- Clean, unplug, and defrost refrigerators and freezers. Wipe them dry and leave doors propped open to prevent mildew.
- Clean the oven.
- Give away or throw out any uneaten food
- Inspect and repair any openings for small animals to enter your home.
Be Ready for Emergencies
Have a trusted friend or relative to keep an eye on the home and be available in emergency situations. Give them access to your home to check on it whenever possible.
(Source for article Travelers Insurance)