Check the coop before you fly the nest!

10 things to check off before you head south for the winter

Whether it’s your first time heading south for the winter or you are a seasoned snowbird veteran, here is a list of helpful tips for shutting down your northern home before you fly south.

1. Arrange for a mail hold, or mail forwarding, depending on how long you will be away. Financial documents such as bank statements, credit card statements, etc. cannot be forwarded.  Make arrangements with your financial institution to add a seasonal address.

2. Get a plow service. Make certain they shovel the walkways, too. This not only will help you avoid a ticket in many municipalities, but it also doesn’t scream “no one is home!”

3. Turn on your alarm systems and leave a few lights on inside your house. Set timers, and have different settings for different days of the week.

4. Drain your pipes and shut off the water.  Failure to do so results in denial of insurance for frozen pipes that end up bursting.  The only other way to maintain insurance coverage when you’re away for more than 4 consecutive days during the heating season is to make arrangements for a competent person to enter your dwelling daily to ensure that heat is being maintained.

5. Ask a trusted neighbour or relative to regularly check on your home, and remove flyers and other items that may have been left at your door.

6. Empty the refrigerator. Use this as an opportunity to clean out the fridge and freezer. If you do unplug the unit(s), you will need to leave the door open to prevent mold and foul odors.

7. Store your valuables in a safe. If it is not a fire-proof safe, maybe consider taking your most valuable jewelry/possessions down south with you.

8. Take out ALL the trash. You don’t want anything left in the house to stink.

9. Unplug all appliances and phones. Even when off, plugged in fixtures can draw electricity, and it’s safer.

10. Lock up! Lock your gate if you have one to the backyard to deter trespassers and secure all your windows. Install deadbolt locks, security-type hinges and sturdy door frames that cannot be spread apart.  Invest in slide locks or other equivalent for sliding doors.