Migrating birds don’t have much prep work before they fly southward for the winter.
As the annual migration begins, many homeowners set themselves up for potential disaster.
Leaving a home unoccupied for an extended period of time can put homeowners at risk.
Houses are a lot like teenagers, neither one should be left alone for very long.
Snowbirds come home to problems because they failed to properly plan when they left in the fall.
But simple steps can eliminate the nightmare.
Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.
Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take steps to secure and winterize their homes.
Whether you’re new to the snowbird lifestyle or an experienced RVer, creating your own customized checklist is a great way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.
Remember, it will be much easier to enjoy your winter in the sun if you have taken steps to protect your home while you are away for an extended period of time.
Consider the following eight tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Inform trusted neighbors that you will be away for a specified period of time. You’ll want them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Ensure they have a list of contact persons, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Adjust the gas water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.
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.
Check outdoor security lights to ensure the motion sensors are functioning correctly.
Lock windows and doors, and set the security alarm.
Happy Snowbird Travels!
As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:
“Spread your tiny wings and fly away
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day …
So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go
To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”