What do you love to do on your winter vacation? Trips to escape the winter drab are popular, whether they be beach vacations, ski adventures, trips to the casino or sightseeing tours. But no matter what your choice of destination is, ensuring your home is protected while you’re away should always be part of your vacation planning.

It’s just as important to plan how to keep your home safe while you’re away as it is to do the planning and research to make sure your holiday is the relaxing, fun time it’s meant to be. By putting some basic preventative measures in place before you leave, you can help avoid problems such as frozen pipes that burst, power surges, break-ins and more.

To get you started, we’ve put together five protection tips to help keep the home front safe while you’re away recharging your batteries.

1.  Ask neighbours or friends to help.
Newspapers and packages piling up at your door, or an overflowing mailbox, announce to anyone passing by that no one is home. You can avoid that problem by placing a temporary hold on your mail and newspaper delivery for the period you will be gone. Or you could give a key to a trusted friend or neighbor and ask them to stop by regularly to put items inside your home and make sure everything looks okay. 

While your friend is checking up on things at your home, ask him or her to take a quick look around to make sure there are no water leaks and, especially in colder climates, the heat is operating correctly. Many insurance policies will not cover water damage if the home has not been inspected for more than a few days. Be sure you know the terms of your insurance policy as it relates to this.

2.  Minimize the chance of water-damage occurrence.
Alberta winters have no shortage of cold-induced pipe-freezes. The ensuing damage can be enormous and affect several homes in a community, especially if it is an apartment-style building.

If you live in a managed community or building, your management company will make sure all common area pipes are properly and effectively protected. Individual unit owners are responsible to do their part by not leaving windows open, even just a crack, and keeping the heat at a reasonable level. For more information on how to protect your water-heated-home pipes from freezing, read our Cold Weather Warning.

Don’t be tempted to save money on heating costs while no one is home. A reasonable temperature is important to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, especially if no one will be there to address a problem as soon as it occurs. 

3.  Unplug.
To protect your electrical appliances from damage due to electrical storms and power surges, unplug your computers, TVs, coffee makers, toaster ovens, hair dryers etc. before you leave. By doing so you will prevent power surges and also save energy, since many appliances use electricity even when they are turned off.

4.  Be discreet about your plans. 
There are likely a few key people you should inform about your plans to be out-of-town. An obvious one is the person that will look in on your property while you are away. Select family members or friends are probably another group that should be able to contact you in case of an emergency. If you live in a managed community, your property manager may be someone you want to advise. But be careful about to whom you broadcast your plans.

5.   Don’t share your upcoming details on social media.
Of course you’re excited about your trip! You may want to share all the details with your social network and perhaps ask for advice or travel tips. You can, if you share the details directly with a trusted relative or friend, but never discuss future travel plans on social media, such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Social media posts are easily shared. Even if your privacy settings are enabled, your info can be easily shared to others by your friends and connections. You will not know who may be learning about how long your home will be vacant. Don’t post your travel photos while you’re still on vacation either. That’s another way to tip-off those who would like to help themselves to your belongings. Once you’re back home, then by all means share the sights and memories.

Any vacation is all about making wonderful memories and sharing rewarding experiences. So whether you prefer snow, sun, gambling, rambling, or any other memorable pursuit, follow these five guidelines to protect your home while you’re away. When you come home to your place that is just as you left it, you’ll be able to extend that vacation feeling just a little bit longer. For more information on community safety and home protection, visit FirstService Residential.
Friday February 19, 2016