Snow Bird Home Security Tips

Savvy travelers know that if you are heading south this winter, you will only be able to truly relax and unwind if you make sure that your home is safe, secure, and looked after while you are gone. Hiring a housesitter is a great way to make sure everything runs smoothly in your absence, but there are many simple precautions you can take to keep your home secure while you are away:

Know Your Neighbours
Safe neighbourhoods are created by neighbours who know each other and are concerned for each others welfare. Checking in your neighbours regularly will keep you informed about what’s happening on your block. Before you leave town, mention to trusted neighbours that you would appreciate their looking after your place in your absence. It takes little effort for them to watch out for suspicious activity, and in exchange, you could offer your empty driveway as a parking spot or the newspapers that come while you are gone.

Eyes on the Inside
If you don’t have a neighbour who is willing or available, ask a friend or relative to feed pets, water plants, bring in mail, or just do a quick walk-through every few days to make sure there is nothing unusual going on: Is the furnace working? Is everything still securely locked? If a problem such as a power failure or frozen pipes should arise, it is best discovered sooner than later.

Give Your Home That Lived-In Look:

  • Ask someone to shovel. A driveway of undisturbed snow is a sure sign of an empty house. If you can’t find someone willing to do it for free, hire a service or a local teen.
  • Install timers. Most people use them for lights, but radios and televisions can also be used to create the illusion of a house bustling with activity. Timers on exterior lights are also a useful deterrent to unwanted visitors.
  • Place a hold on mail and newspapers. Piles of paper on your front step advertise your absence. If you can’t have someone come in to pick up your mail, you can pay Canada Post to hold delivery while you are away. Most newspaper subscriptions can be suspended for free.
  • Leave some blinds open. It makes sense to close blinds and curtains so that valuables won’t be on display, but leaving a few open where you can will make it look like someone’s home.

Put Valuables Securely Away
Cash, jewelry, family heirlooms, and any valuables not traveling with you should go into a safe at home or a safety deposit box on another premises. If you own firearms, make sure they are also secured. In the event that your home is broken into, you can rest assured that such irreplaceable possessions are safe.

Lock Everything
This seems self-evident, but remember to double-check areas that you might not typically consider. In addition to doors and deadbolts, make sure that windows, basements windows, garages, and sheds are locked. If you have a sliding door, place a piece of wood or metal on the track to prevent it from being opened. And if you have a spare key hidden outdoors, bring it in.

Don’t Let Your Technology Betray You
Be careful about what you reveal online about your movements and location. Unless you have strict privacy settings on your social media accounts, strangers may be able to use the information to discern that you’re on the road and to figure out your home address. And that’s not the only way tech-savvy thieves could end up at your house: If your car is equipped with GPS, don’t set the “Home” location on your precise address. Instead, choose a public place near your home. If your car is stolen from an airport parking lot, you won’t lead thieves straight to your driveway.