Not everyone in the Mohawk Valley stays here for our cold, dark winter months. Florida beckons and many Utica area residents fly south for the winter and return in the spring. That means they’re leaving their houses empty for half the year.
Are you a snowbird? If you are, here are some things you should do to protect your home while you’re gone.
Get a Home Security System
Not only does a home security system make it much harder for intruders to successfully break into your home, you can get some nice credits on your homeowners insurance premiums. If you have one installed but you’re not sure if you’re getting the credits, give us a call.
Also, motion sensors outside will trigger a light when someone moves close by. Place sensors near all the entryways: porches, decks, and near garages. The sudden brightness should scare away any intruders.
Purchase a Home Security Sign
Security signs and decals are available at your local Home Depot, Walmart, and other retailers. You don’t even have to actually have a security system. Place a sign in the front yard and some stickers on the windows to give would-be burglars second thoughts.
Reconsider “Hidden” Keys
Burglars know that many of us hide that extra key under the doormat, in a potted plant on the porch, or in a decorative lawn ornament. It’s best to make extra keys so you have them with you rather than keep the one key where it’s easy to find. After all, you will be gone all winter, so you shouldn’t need a key outside.
Have a Neighbor Keep an Eye Out
Speaking of keys, it might be a good idea to give a trusted neighbor a key. In this way, they’ll have easy entry in case of emergency like a fire or broken water pipe. Plus, the neighbor can consistently check the house for anything out of order. This will also make it look like there’s activity at the house. If you’re not sure about trusting your neighbor with the job, get a family member to monitor the house for you.
Hire the Plowing and Shoveling
Since you’ll be gone all winter, snow buildup in the driveway and sidewalks is a dead giveaway that the house is unoccupied. Hire someone to plow the driveway regularly. And hire some neighborhood kids to keep the walkways shoveled.
Get the Lights to Change
Programmable light switches turn lights off and on without your being there. This makes it look like you’re still living in your home. In this way, you don’t have to leave the same light on all day and night. Just be sure you set the timers for certain lights to go on and off at different times of the day.
The Social Media Giveaway
You may not think of it while posting, but when you let your Facebook friends know you’re leaving for sunnier climes, burglars can find out, too. This goes for posting photos of you and the family down south while you’re still there. As tempting as it is to let everyone in on the fun online, it’s best to stay away from social media if you can.
Pipes, Heat, Water, and Ice
One final caution. Remember while you’re enjoying sunny Florida, it’s cold up here. You need to either drain the pipes or make sure the heat is on while you’re gone. There is a section of your Homeowners insurance policy that excludes loss caused by freezing of a plumbing, drainage, heating, air conditioning system, or automatic fire sprinkler if your home is unoccupied and you have not used reasonable care to maintain heat in the building or have shut off the water supply and drained the system and appliances of water.
So if you opt to maintain heat in the building throughout the winter, this is one of the best reasons to have a neighbor or family member check the house daily to be sure the heat is on. Though, in our opinion, it’s probably better to drain the pipes completely so you don’t have to worry about frozen pipes.
So if you decide to spend the winter down south we wish you well. You might even knock a few strokes off your golf game. But take care to button up your home so when you get back, everything will be safe and sound.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.