Migrating birds don’t have much prep work before they fly southward for the winter.
Snowbirds, on the other hand, must consider how to shut down their fixed dwelling before taking flight to flee the coming winter’s snow, ice, and bone-chilling cold for southern Sunbelt states.
Leaving a home unoccupied for an extended period of time can put homeowners at risk.
Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning. Before heading south for the season, take steps to secure and winterize your home.
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.
Consider the following seven tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist:
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 driveway and sidewalks clear of the white stuff that Northerners know all too well. Snowy driveways can be a sign to intruders that you are on an extended vacation.
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 with pertinent information including your cell phone number and email address, vehicle and home insurance provider, security system code, and a description and plate numbers of your RV and toad or tow truck and trailer.
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.