Home security tips while you’re away on a winter vacation

Going away for a winter vacation is more fun when you can relax knowing your home is safe!

Here are some home security tips and suggestions to help give you peace of mind while you are away.

To protect your home, consider both security against break-ins and preventing any internal or external damage.

Don’t signal that you are not home whether it’s for a weekend or a few months, during the winter it’s easy to tell when someone is not home:

• Shorter days means unlit windows are obvious as early as 4 p.m.

• Frequent snowfalls leave a snow buildup and a lack of tire tracks in your driveway.

• Trash not taken out to the curb on garbage day shows you are not home.

• Unopened accumulated mail and flyers is also a telltale sign.

The first thing you may wish to do is take precautions for the security of your home. Make your home look lived in and also secure your entryways and valuables:

• Prevent burglary by making your home looked lived in.

• Set your lights on a timer so they turn on when it gets dark.

• Arrange for snow removal and salt your walkways.

• Arrange for mail pick-up or forwarding.

• Ensure that your house and belongings are secure.

• Disable your garage door to prevent a break-in.

• Use deadbolt locks on your external doors and windows and sliding locks on glass doors or French doors.

• Gather your valuables and store them at another location or in a safe.

• Advise your local police station that your home will be unoccupied and perhaps a patrol car may be able to swing by during occasional shifts.

• Don’t post on social media about leaving for vacation.

• Prevent appliance malfunctions and damage.

The next main concern for leaving your home during the winter is the risk of any damage occurring. From weather to malfunctioning appliances, you may want to consider a number of areas to keep your home safe:

• Get your furnace checked for routine maintenance. You want to ensure your home temperature will be stable in your absence.

• Have an electrician inspect your main electrical panel and general wiring to prevent risk of any outages.

• Keep your room doors and cabinet doors open to let warm air circulate where pipes are located.

• Prevent flooding: shut off the water to washing machines and dishwashers, drain and shut off outdoor water faucets.

• Prevent rodents and pests: clean your oven, get rid of any perishable or uneaten food, and close your fireplace flue.

Last but not least, for your peace of mind, consider asking a trusted friend or neighbour to check in on your place when you are gone. They can look for signs of burglary, burst pipes, or any damage. A trusted visitor can also make your house look lived in, keeping your snow cleared and collecting your mail.

— SmartMoves, Canada Post.