Leaving for the holidays? Make sure your home stays safe!

December 21, 2015

The holidays are almost here and many of us are getting ready to leave home for the holidays and travel south or visit family around the province. While this is an exciting and festive time of year, it's also important to ensure that your biggest asset, your home, is protected while you're away. Following these important steps will help ensure you have a safe and worry-free time with family and friends.

1) To help keep up the illusion that you're home while actually being away, enlist the help of a trusted neighbour or friend to:
- Collect mail if you still have home delivery; if you pick up your mail from a community mail box, ask them to periodically collect your mail from there too. These mailboxes have very limited space and can fill up quickly, especially around the holiday season.
- Park their car in your driveway every now and then or move your car if you've left a 2nd car at home.
- Remove accumulated snow from your driveway and porch/walkways.
- Take out your garbage and recycling on your designated days.
- You should also consider stopping your newspaper subscription if you receive a daily copy.

2) Set timers for your home lights. New products like WEMO and other app-based systems allow you to create rules and timelines or turn on lights while you're far away with the use of your smartphone.

3) To keep your home damage-free, make sure you turn off all outside taps (from the inside shut off) so they don't freeze while you're away. You can also lower your ambient home temperature to eliminate energy waste when you're not there to enjoy it. It's also good to unplug any unused electrical equipment such as TVs, DVD/Blu-Ray players, gaming systems and non-essential appliances to keep your home safe from surges and lower your energy costs. Finally, don't forget to throw out all of your perishable food in the fridge; there's nothing worse than coming home to a fridge that smells!

4) Social Media is always a great way to share the joy of the holiday season but try to avoid stating that you're away. Telling people how long you'll be away gives potential thieves all the opportunity they need to make your home a target. Saying that you're enjoying time with grandparents is great; just avoid tagging your location where possible.

5) Your pet sitter can also be your eyes and ears while you're away. They can easily do a quick scan around your house to ensure that everything is as it should be. Have them check the basement to make sure pipes haven't burst or upper levels to ensure your roof isn't leaking. Providing them with your telephone number or e-mail address (in case you're in an area where you can't get telephone calls on your cell phone) is helpful so they can easily reach you if anything should happen to your home or your pets!

Stay safe and remember to enjoy time with family and friends this holiday season!