Snowbird’s guide to safeguarding home before winter travel

As winter approaches, many of us wish to avoid the blustering snow and freezing temperatures. For many Canadian retirees, that means flying south of the border. Hot-spots include places like the Sun Belt of the United States, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean. Now, if you’re planning to be away the entire season, it’s important to take necessary precautions to safeguard your home while travelling:

  • Before you leave, check to make sure all windows and doors are sealed and locked. This includes all rooms of your home, garage, outdoor shed, or other.
  • Make sure that you don’t have any spare keys hidden in places that others could access. If you have one hidden under the front door mat, place it back inside until your return. Burglars tend to make themselves accustomed to the common hiding spots, so don’t make yourself susceptible.
  • To go one step further, place a thick wooden dowel inside the track of sliding doors and windows. If the lock is broken, this will add an additional layer of security, preventing the entry point from being opened.
  • Lights on timers can be handy when coming or going during the evening hours, they can also prevent theft. The darker and less-inhabited a house looks, the more appealing it will look to burglars. Set timers to make it appear as though someone is home. Leave a few of the blinds or curtains open to let the light shine through; make it look as normal as possible.
  • If your other appliances and electronics are on timers, you could also consider having the radio some on for an hour so now and then, to enhance the appearance that someone is active in the household.
  • Have a friend or neighbour come to check on the house. Make sure they remember to pick up newspapers and mail left outside. Large piles can make it clear that no one is home.
  • During the winter, it could also be wise to have someone maintain the property, such as snow clearing. A driveway full of snow signals that someone is either away or may be a vulnerable target, unable to upkeep their property.
  • Take an inventory of household goods before heading out. This includes appliances, jewellery, stored cash, important documents, firearms and all other valuable items. Don’t leave them sitting out; purchase a safety deposit box or alternative to keep them secure.
  • If you have pets, make sure to book boarding arrangements early or have a trusted loved one care for them. If you choose to bring them along, make sure you have all the supplies and documentation needed to cross the border with a live animal.
  • Don’t boast about travelling publically online or on other social media. It is exciting news to share, but make sure your privacy settings are up-to-date and set as you would like them. Advertising this information openly can make you a target for thieves.
  • Lastly, make sure to turn on your security system and ensure it is working properly. If you travel often or for long periods, this is a truly valuable investment. It can provide peace of mind while being away, allowing you to enjoy your vacation, relaxed and without worry. Newer systems even allow you to monitor activity remotely on your smartphone.

Alternative living options

Alternative living residences, such as retirement homes, make travelling easy. Through community-based living arrangements, you know someone is always around. You’ll never have to worry about troubling a friend or family member to come by and take care of your home again.

A team member will be in regularly to provide continued housekeeping and in turn check on your suite to make sure all is well. Friends and neighbours are within steps, most would be more than willing to gather your mail or care for a pet.

You may even find new friends to travel with, many of our Seasons residents travel during the winter and come home to a welcoming, clean and secure suite. Vacations are a time to unwind, enjoy the sunshine and put your worries aside. You shouldn’t have to spend time worrying about the safety and security of your home. Take the necessary precautions, or consider a move to alternative living: You’ll thank yourself later.

Book a personal visit to best determine if Seasons is the right fit for you or your loved one.

Sources: GOC Get Prepared & Ordinary Traveller.