As part of the “Be a home hero” series, this article joins a family of helpful stories like Prevent house fires: How can we prevent accidental fires at home and How to prevent water leaks in your home. Because when you’re a step ahead of peril, you’re stepping up as a home hero.
Be a home hero: Save your home from the perils of theft and damage when you head south
When that deep to the bone cold settles in, you dream of that warm escape to sunnier latitudes. But it’s not the escape you hope for when your unattended home gives you a worrying pause. With a little preparation, you can safeguard your home and provide extra protection to help prevent theft and potential water damage while you’re away. You can be a home hero when you’re not even there.
Critical steps to protect your home while you’re away
Here are a few tips to prevent theft while you’re vacationing:
- Make it look occupied. Park a car in the driveway, install an indoor light timer, place newspaper subscriptions on hold, or ask a neighbour to collect your mail.
- Install a security device with a loud alarm or flashing lights. Some alarms can contact authorities directly when they’ve been activated.
- Use deadbolt locks on all doors. Ensure doors, including garages and sheds, are locked and secured. Be sure to remove any house keys from obvious hiding places, such as under doormats or flowerpots.
- Ensure all windows are locked. If your windows are old, consider upgrading to ones with improved locking systems.
- Have your walkway shoveled after every snowfall. Snow removal will make your home look occupied. If you have a car parked out front, have a neighbour remove any snow build-up.
- If you have a car parked outside of your garage, remove the garage door opener. A thief can break in your vehicle and gain access to your home.
Here are a few tips to prevent water damage while you’re away:
- Turn down the heat to no lower than 16°C to prevent your water pipes from freezing or bursting.
- For added piece of mind, turn off your water main and run all your faucets to empty your pipes and plumbing.
- Keep your valuables off the floor or in plastic containers could help minimize the damage to your treasures if a leak occurs.
- Have your home checked. Some insurance policies require that if you are away for more than a few days, a responsible party must check your residence daily to ensure an appropriate temperature is maintained to avoid pipes bursting and serious water damage.
Actions to take if home theft has occurred
If you discover that your home has been burglarized call 911 immediately, leave the home, and follow all instructions from the dispatcher. You’ll want assistance to ensure that the situation is safe before re-entering your home. Remember to look but not touch to allow the authorities to properly investigate the theft. When you can safely do so, document everything that’s been damaged or stolen. That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep an updated list of your valuables for situations just like this. After evaluating the loss, contact your insurance company.
How to file a theft claim
Ensure that you have your policy number, information relating to the theft, when it happened, and what was lost.
Not all heroes wear capes
Sometimes they just wear sunscreen…knowing that they’ve confidently prepared their home to prevent theft or damage when they’re gone.