Tips for the Snowbird Before Flying South
When preparing to leave for your snowbird destination, it’s important to keep burglars and good household management in mind. Following these steps should give you some peace of mind while you’re away:
Bring in all lawn furniture, ladders and stackable boxes.
Unhook all outside hoses so they don’t freeze.
Trim all plants and bushes so all doors and windows are easily seen from the street.
Empty trash cans = empty house. Put trash cans inside or have a neighbor use yours each week.
Install motion-sensor lights in the front and back of your house. Position the lights so they will detect anyone approaching from the side of your house. Install the lights up high so someone cannot unscrew the bulb or block the light.
Make sure your light bulbs are working before you leave on vacation.
Use a timer for lights, radios and televisions. Time each to turn on randomly in different rooms throughout the entire day.
Turn off your hot water heater, water to your washing machine and water to your dishwasher. If any of the connections fail on these appliances, it could flood your entire house.
Move items off the floor and/or away from basement windows in case of natural or appliance flooding.
Discard any perishable items in your refrigerator and freezer. Have someone check periodically to make sure the power doesn’t go out. It’d be quite unpleasant to return to a refrigerator full of rotting food!
Store valuables in places or other locations that a burglar could not access (i.e., take jewelry to a safe-deposit box, lock computers in closets, hide keys to extra cars, etc.). Be sure to remove all valuables from sight, especially if a thief looks in through your windows.
Take photographs or videos of all expensive items. This is helpful for both the police and the insurance agency (if you have a homeowner's policy), to identify the stolen goods.
Use an engraving pen to mark these items with some kind of personal identifying information, such as your initials, in an inconspicuous place. This also helps record your possessions in case of any other mishap, such as fire or flood.
Turn the ringers off on any telephones, so thieves can’t hear if no one is home answer the phone.
Don’t leave a message on the answering machine that tells callers you’re out of town. Instead, say you’re away from the phone and you’ll get back to them.
Make sure that all windows are closed and locked before leaving. In basement windows, install a metal grate or a steel bar in window track to deter burglars.
Don’t draw all of the curtains and/or blinds closed. This signals that no one is home.
Lock all doors leading into the house. This way, if someone opens the garage door, they’ll be unable to gain access to the house.
Cover garage windows with blinds so people can’t see valuables in the garage. Also, install a padlock on track garage doors, so thieves can’t use a crowbar to open them.
Unplug your automatic garage-door opener.
Arrange for a neighbor to: park their car in your driveway, and check for extra newspapers, flyers and packages. Give your neighbor your contact information.
Arrange for someone to mow your lawn and shovel your walkways.
Give your household plants to a friend or family member to water and take care of.
Hold your mail or have a mail service send it to you at your snowbird destination.
Hold newspaper delivery a few days before leaving to ensure that it stops.
Stop your trash service.
Some police departments have vacation check programs. Notify them, and generally they will do a routine check of the house. While some will only drive by and look for suspicious activity, some will get out of their vehicles and inspect the grounds looking for any break-ins. If contact information is left with the police, they can phone the homeowners if there has been a break-in or disturbance. Upon return, they will usually send a card, listing dates and patrol times.
Companies to contact with your new address
Whether you have a friend get your mail, the post office hold your mail, or a company forward your mail, it’s important that you RECEIVE your mail! Don’t forget to contact these companies with your new change of address:
- Mortgage company
- Water company
- Electric company
- Trash company
- Phone company
- Insurance company
- Social security office
- Credit card company
- Medical offices