The Iceman Cometh

Are you ready to flock south?

You might know a poet, William Shakespeare, who’s Sonnet 73 says:

A major concentration of snowbirds in Ol' Airy Zonie occurs each winter in the Phoenix area. Pictured above is Usery Mountain Regional Park located north of Mesa. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon the boughs that shake against the cold
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

The Bard makes reference to autumn here in what would become one of his most famous sonnets. Oh, Autumn, that time of year when the earth changes colors before our very eyes, temperatures start to dip, the light begins to fade away, and RV’s are readying for their migration south to Ol’ Airy Zonie, Southern California, Texas, Florida, or another warm southern destination.

So in true Shakespearean style, let’s count the fourteen things—as in the fourteen lines of a sonnet—that will help you prepare your home for an extended absence during the winter:

Check expiry dates. Well in advance of your departure, check expiry dates for your passport and other travel documents, driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, credit cards, and membership cards—and renew if necessary.

Home insurance. Check with your insurance agency to determine how extended absences may affect coverage. Determine if your insurer requires regular walk-throughs during your absence and if so, how frequently.

Birding attracts many snowbirds to the Rio Grand Valley of South Texas. Pictured above is the beautiful green jay. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mail. Receiving your mail in a timely manner can be a major concern for Snowbirds, full-timers, and other RVers who plan to be on the road for an extended period of time. Arrange with your local postal service to have your mail forwarded to a mailing forwarding address. We use the service provided by FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association). Other trusted and reliable mail forwarding services include Good Sam and Escapees.

Newspapers. Place a temporary hold on your delivery.

Smoke alarms. Check to ensure that all smoke alarms are in working order and have fresh batteries.

Furnace. Reduce costs and save energy consumption by turning the thermostat down to 45-50 degrees F (7-10 C).

Water. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.

Water heater. Adjust the gas water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off.

Upon returning home, relight the pilot if you turned it off, and gradually turn the thermostat to the appropriate setting. Don’t forget to turn the water back on before restarting the water heater.

Appliances and electronics. Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances—microwave, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator, coffee pot, toaster oven, TVs, audio equipment, radios, and lamps.

Refrigerator. Empty the refrigerator, turn it off, and unplug from wall receptacle. Place a fresh box of baking soda on a shelf to absorb odors and drape a towel over the doors to ensure they remain partially open.

Clerbrook RV Resort in a popular Snowbird park at Clermont in Central Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Home security. Check outdoor security lights to ensure the motion sensors are functioning correctly. Lock windows and doors, and set the security alarm.

Snow removal. You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep your sidewalks clear of the white stuff that Northerners know all too well.

Contact person. Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. The contact person should have access to your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, be available in emergency situations, and make repair appointments if necessary. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Contact information. Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including cell phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

In conclusion

This list of 14 tips is a good place to start when creating your own winter-ready checklist.

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream, a simple someday soon

But we worked hard, and made it real

This snowbird life, behind the wheel.

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