Things to do on the home front BEFORE you leave on vacation

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We spend so much time before vacation planning for the trip itself, sometimes we forget about things at home.  Preparation is critical, particularly in the winter, with extended darkness and unpredictable weather.

Winter vacation home security and safety measures should include making arrangements for someone to clear your driveway and walkways in the event of snow.  Leaving snow untouched for days is like putting out a sign that says We’re Not Home.  Even if it doesn’t snow, with darkness by 6 p.m., an unlit home looks unoccupied unless you have lights on timers.  Ideally, outdoor lights should also be on timers or be light sensitive and include motion detectors which can deter unwanted guests.

The cold temperatures are also an important consideration when turning down the indoor thermostat to conserve energy while you are away. While guidelines vary, a safe recommendation is 60 degrees F to conserve energy while providing a comfortable margin to avoid frozen pipes.  When you return home, your furnace won’t be overtaxed to reheat the living space.

Don’t take it for granted that windows are locked just because they are not open in the winter.  Approximately 30 percent of all burglaries are through open or unlocked windows or doors, according to the FBI, and windows are left unlocked at a much higher rate than doors. Interestingly, renters are just as likely to be the victims of property crime as homeowners.

Additional tasks to keep top-of-mind before getting caught in the rush to get away include:

  • Suspend newspaper and mail delivery.
  • Notify a neighbor that you’ll be away and leave a key with someone you trust.
  • Purge the refrigerator of perishables, run the disposal and take out the trash.

These tasks take a little time and planning, but they can save you a great deal of trouble. Pre-vacation is also a great time to complete important home organization and maintenance tasks. The Hanover recommends you:

  • Run a computer back-up so you know everything is saved safely. Then, turn your computer off to avoid “phantom power use.”
  • Address nagging maintenance issues, such as leaks and drafts, so they don’t become problems while you’re gone.
  • Conduct a home inventory using an online service or smart phone app to easily capture pictures, video and information. The stored data could be a life saver if you need to file a claim following a loss due to damage or burglary.

Taking time to get your house or apartment ready before your winter getaway can make your return home as stress free as your vacation.

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