8 Things to do Before Leaving Home for the Holidays

Leaving home for the holidays can be the highlight of the year, whether you’re off to grandmother’s house with the family, or headed to that annual tropical getaway. However, homes left vacant during the holidays can be a prime target for theft, or vulnerable to severe weather damage.

To help, Erie insurance offers the following top-of-mind tips before you pack your bags and hit the road or runway.

Share your itinerary. Let a few trusted people know where you are going and when. They will more than likely text you if they need to reach you, but you should still share the rundown of your travel plans, including departure and arrival dates, flight numbers and times, and a contact number where you’ll be staying. After all, a backup is always good in case something happens to your phone (or your ability to charge it).

Take care of deliveries. Don’t forget to have something done about your mail. If a neighbor can collect it daily, that’s an easy way to also keep tabs on your place. Otherwise, simply request that the postal service hold it for you. This is the holiday season, of course, so leave instructions for all packages too.

Don’t forget snow removal. Nothing screams “No one’s home!” like a driveway heaping with untouched snow. Hire someone to come by and remove the snow and ask a neighbor to pull up and turn around in your driveway from time to time, just to leave tracks.

Lights. What’s the easiest way to deter a burglar? Make them doubt that they are working with an empty house. Invest in a set of timers for your TV room and bedrooms and set them to switch on lamps at various times. Also leave a radio tuned to a talk radio station—the sound of voices coming from inside could help deter a burglar.

Thermostat. If you have a pet-free home, you can lower the temperature to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warm enough to keep things from freezing, but cool enough to give your furnace and energy usage a break.

Water. Should a pipe burst or even leak while you’re gone, it could slowly empty water right into your basement and damage appliances, furniture and much more. Turn off the water main in your home before you leave and drain the pipes by flushing the toilets and turning on the faucets. Also turn your water heater down to “vacation mode” so you aren’t spending money on keeping water warm when you’re not around.

Electronics. Unplug everything that will not be in use while you’re away, including your washer and dryer, television, computer, toaster and coffee maker. Appliances can still consume energy when they’re plugged in and not in use.

Winter kit. Since a winter storm can hit with little warning, it’s a good idea to round up a few items to store in your trunk should you get stranded or stuck. Consider a sleeping bag, fresh water, non-perishable snacks, boots, jumper cables, shovel, a plastic jug filled with sand or cat litter and a red bandana.

Source: Erie Insurance Group

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