Looking forward to getting away for the winter? Here are a few easy steps to take before you leave to ensure peace of mind while you’re gone. Knowing everything is taken care of on the home front will make your time away more enjoyable and eliminate unwelcome surprises upon your return.

Go Paperless

• Cancel newspapers, magazines, catalogues and any other home deliveries.
• Forward your mail to your destination, and tell the post office not to deliver any third class mail or circulars addressed to Resident.
• Be Anti-Social. Don’t post your whereabouts on Social Media. You’ll be advertising an empty house.

Turn it Off

• Unplug kitchen appliances, washers and dryers as well as electronic devices and cable boxes throughout the house. Those little red and blue LED lights use energy all day long and can also become very hot.
• Forward your incoming phone calls to your destination number so the phone doesn’t ring off the hook. This is a green light “go” for a would-be intruder.
• Change your TV services from premium to basic to reduce costs.

 

Outside the house

• Remove ladders, tools and any equipment from the garage that might abet a potential break-in.
• Trim back bushes covering first floor windows to provide a clear view of the house and eliminate a potential access point or hiding space.
• Have the gutters cleared and the chimney checked (to make sure the cap is in place so birds, animals, snow and rain don’t get in).
• Remove any furniture or planters that could blow around.
• Ask a neighbor to park their second car in your driveway.

• Remove hidden spare keys- the crooks know where to look!

Inside the house

• Turn off the main water valve off and run your faucets to clear all the water out of the plumbing lines. Set the heat to 55 degrees.
• Lock all windows and doors.
• Set a few lights on timers throughout the house.
• Review your emergency contact list with your alarm company to be sure those people are going to be in town.

Documents to Bring

• Make copies of everything in your wallet – leave a set at home and take one with you.
• Make a list of prescriptions, medical history and doctor contact numbers.
• Bring phone numbers for your plumber, electrician, gardener and neighbors.
• Bring tax documents and other paperwork you may need for year-end finances.
• Bring your usernames and passwords for online accounts.

Hire a Weekly House Checker/Handy Person

• Nothing says “vacant house” like a messy yard. Arrange for someone to visit once a week, sweep up after storms and pick up any trash in the yard. Have a neighbor call you if they see debris in your yard.
• When it snows, have someone clear the front path, the sidewalks and make tire tracks in your driveway. Arrange for plowing if it snows more than 4 inches.
• Check the kitchen and bathrooms for water leaks under the sinks, adjust the heat upward in extreme cold and flush the toilets. Rubber gaskets can dry out and begin to leak when unused for prolonged periods of time.

On Your Way Out The Door

• Empty the trash – use a neighbor’s bin so yours stays empty.
• Set the alarm.
• Have a wonderful time!

 

Sharon Falvey, a lifelong Westchester native, partners with families, individuals and attorneys to provide personalized household management services for seniors/boomers, caregivers and their families. Bill paying, account reconciliation, household technology and tax preparation are just a few of the things she keeps organized, dignified and in good order. She can be reached at 914-584-8615.