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Travel Checklist for Snowbirds

car-travel-winterBy Sara Thomson

If you are a snowbird that avoids the harsh Northeast winter, be sure to take the necessary precautions to protect your home from theft, cold weather damage, or system malfunctions while you’re gone.

A home with newspapers piled up at the end of a driveway, a full mailbox, and lights that are never on is a burglar’s dream. Before you leave, forward your mail and stop newspaper delivery until you return. Put any lights that can be seen from the street on a timer, and put motion lights around your home’s exterior. An empty home is more vulnerable to burglaries, so making your home look “lived in” while you’re out of town can help deter any possible intruders.

If you’ll be away for more than a month, consider purchasing an alarm system to prevent anyone from entering without a code while you are gone– this may be able to save you money on your homeowners insurance policy, too! Lock all windows with security locks and doors with deadbolts. Your valuables should be stored away from your home in either a safe deposit box or with trusted family who will be home while you are away.

Consider turning off the water supply while you’re gone to prevent a pipe burst or leak. If you turn your water off, drain your pipes by flushing the toilets and opening the faucets. Use non-toxic antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls to prevent remaining water from freezing. If you choose not to turn off your water, set your home temperature to fifty-five degrees, at minimum, to keep the interior pipes and walls above freezing. Shut off the water to washing machines and dishwashers as well.

Clean your home thoroughly before leaving to prevent pests. Clean out your fridge, freezer, pantry, oven, and anywhere else food is stored. Have a professional clean and inspect your chimney and install a chimney guard or screen cap to prevent birds and rodents from entering. Check all insulation, weather stripping, and exterior doors and windows for cracks or defects.

Let only trusted family and friends know you will be gone and have one of them periodically check on your home while you are gone.

For a free insurance quote from a knowledgeable Hometown Insurance agent please call 631-589-0100 or email

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