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Pre-Vacation Home Checklist: Winter Safety Edition

Pre-Vacation Home Checklist: Winter Safety Edition

December 8th, 2022

With the cold weather here, vacations are approaching for many travelers. Winter tends to be a popular time for travel as individuals pack up to visit family for holidays or escape the cold for a location with a warmer climate. Before you leave your house for an extended period of time, there are some things you should do to prepare

Here are the top winter home safety tips to add to your pre-vacation checklist.

Outside

Whether you are preparing for a vacation or just for the change of seasons, there are some ways you can winterize your home. Doing so will help prevent damage that can occur from the cooler weather. The following are some things you should plan to do around the outside of your property prior to your winter vacation.

Inspect Your Trees

It is always a good idea to routinely inspect the trees along your property, especially before winter. Before the weather changes, trim any overhanging branches and check your trees for rot or decay. 

Branches that overhang the roof of your home can be knocked down in a winter storm and cause significant damage, and dying trees are at risk of falling over onto your or a neighbor’s home. You will want to ensure you take care of any issues before any potential storms.

Clean Your Gutters

It is also good practice to double-check they are free of any debris before leaving for vacation. You will also want to route any downspouts to direct the water flow away from your home. 

Experts recommend having the water flow at least four to six feet away from your foundation to prevent future issues with moisture.

Make Home Appear Occupied

As a homeowner, you want to make sure your home is safe while you are away. One of the best ways to do this is to make your home appear occupied. Ask a neighbor or friend to collect your mail or any packages, and help with any routine winter maintenance, such as snow removal. 

Removing snow and ice from driveways or walkways makes it seem as if you are still home, which is essential since it can thwart any opportunistic burglar from breaking in. It also prevents any person you may want on your property, such as postal or delivery workers, from slipping and falling, which can result in potential lawsuits. 

In addition to snow removal after a storm, you may want to keep cars parked in the driveway, set indoor/outdoor lights on a timer, and leave curtains and blinds open halfway. 

Inside

There are a few ways to prepare inside your home for a winter vacation. In addition to emptying the garbage, cleaning out the refrigerator, and turning off the lights, you should also consider ways to prevent certain losses or ensure you get notified if they occur. The following are examples of items you should add to your pre-vacation checklist.

Inspect Windows and Doors

It is a good idea to consider weatherstripping your windows and exterior doors at the start of the cold season. Weatherstripping involves identifying any cracks, gaps, or spaces around windows or doors and adding specialty stripping to prevent rain or moisture from entering your home. It also helps keep the heat in, which is more energy efficient. In addition, although it may seem obvious, you should double check to ensure that all windows and doors are locked to prevent break-ins.

Maintain Heat

You may think that if you are not going to be home, you can save on heating costs by turning the heat off. While this may be the case, you may want to reconsider. Turning the heat off will increase the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting. In fact, many insurance companies stipulate that proof of the heat being maintained needs to be received in order for them to cover any claims for burst pipes. 

Experts recommend keeping your thermostat at 16 degrees Celsius and using the “vacation mode,” if you have one, on your hot water tank. It is also a good idea to have your heating system serviced or oil tank filled prior to leaving so you can rest assured that the heat is running as it should.

Check Home Devices

Just as important as servicing your heating system is checking the other vital devices in your homes, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Ensure to replace the batteries and check they are in good working order. If you have smart home devices like cameras or water sensors, you should confirm they are charged, connected to Wi-Fi and that your app notifications are on. 

Many devices will allow you to add a designated person to notify of any potential issues in addition to yourself. If you have a friend or neighbor checking on your home while you are away, you may also want to consider including them in these notifications. 

Review Insurance Coverage

Whether you are leaving for a week or a few months, confirming you have the right coverage for your home is essential. Before you plan any trips, call a trusted insurance professional to discuss your home coverage and ensure it is what you need. 

Duliban Insurance Brokers have been serving the Ontario community for decades and know what coverages are best for your home. Call or email them today!

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