10 Home Safety Tips for Snowbirds and Winter Vacationers

Suitcase with diving mask on top

Are you ready to escape the winter chill by taking a trip to a warmer destination?

Whether you’re flying south for the entire winter or just leaving town for a few days, you’ll want to prep your home before you leave. Doing so may help prevent burglaries and damage to your home from fire, frozen pipes and more.

Here are 10 safety tips for snowbirds and vacationers.

1. Double-check all your home’s locks. Securely lock all windows and doors. Make sure that any sliding glass doors have security bolts installed.

2. Light up your property. Leave an outside light on (a motion-sensor light is ideal). Put indoor lights on timers. Safety experts claim that lighting may reduce burglary and vandalism by as much as 50 percent.

3. Disconnect electronics. Unplug small appliances and electronics (including computers) to prevent fire hazards and to save on electricity.

4. Install a temperature warning light for your home. The unit costs about $25 and is easy to install. Simply plug the unit into a lamp near the front of your home or in a window. The unit causes the lamp to flash as a warning that the interior home temperature has dipped below a preset level. It’s important to maintain a steady temperature inside your home so the pipes will not freeze, burst and cause damage.

5. Halt deliveries. Stacked mail is a sign no one is home. Stop mail and newspaper service or arrange for a trusted neighbor to take things inside each day.

6. Take care of the plumbing system. To avoid frozen pipes, drain water from your plumbing system. Also shut off water to the main line if you’ll be away for an extended time.

7. Store outdoor furniture and window AC units. If you haven’t already done this, bring in chairs, umbrellas, portable grills, toys, garden hoses, tools, ladders and other outdoor items. Remove window air conditioners or cover outdoor AC units for the winter. Although AC units are designed for outdoor use, using a proper cover may extend their life and performance. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for outdoor AC care and maintenance.

8. Enlist a snow removal service or trusted neighbor to remove snow if you will be gone for an extended time. Piled up snow signals to burglars that no one is home.

9. Fill out a home inventory form and take photos of your high-value items. A home inventory lets you log the value of your belongings and the serial numbers of electronic equipment. If you ever need to file an insurance claim, all the information that you need will be in easy reach.

10. Don’t hide a spare key under the mat, underneath the rock next to the doorway or above the door casing. Burglars will look for keys in these obvious places. Give a set of keys, along with your contact information, to a trusted local friend or family member to monitor your home. For better protection, install a home security system. A home security system may save you money on your insurance, so ask your insurance agent about any discounts.

You’ll also want to safeguard the things you bring on your getaway. Find out how to keep your stuff safe at the airport, a hotel or when you’re in a new place.

Finally, remember that homeowners insurance is another way to protect your home. To learn more about it and to get a free quote, contact an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance Agent in your community to learn more.

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