"A Snowbird Checklist: Winterizing Your Home" over an image of a house in winter stylized like a post card

Follow this checklist to ready your home for the cold winter months.

Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take a few steps to secure and winterize their homes. Whether you are new to taking extended vacations or a veteran snowbird, creating your own customized checklist is a great way to keep track of your seasonal preparations. Remember, it will be much easier to enjoy your winter in the sun if you have taken steps to protect your home while you're away for an extended period of time.

Consider the following tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist:

  • Adjust Heating Systems - You may opt to turn off your heating system completely or just keep it at a very low setting. Don’t forget to turn off the water heater as well.
  • Winterize the Plumbing - Turn off your water and open all of the taps to drain anything left in the pipes. Leave the taps open. Be sure to drain the exterior taps as well.
  • Empty the Refrigerator - Clean out the refrigerator and freezer and unplug them. Add a fresh box of baking soda to each and drape a towel over the doors to keep them cracked open.
  • Unplug Electronics and Appliances - Unplugging electronics and appliances keeps them from using even a small amount of electricity. It also protects them from potential power surges during storms.
  • Forward Mail and Stop Newspapers - Give the post office enough notice to reroute your mail and don’t forget to put a hold on newspapers. Also, make arrangements for someone to remove flyers and free newspapers that might be left while you're away.
  • Arrange Outdoor Maintenance - You're escaping the snow, but your home isn't. Make arrangements for snow removal while you're away.
  • Arrange a Local Emergency Contact - You should have someone in the area who has access to your home (has a key, knows alarm codes, etc.) in case of emergencies. It’s even better if you can also arrange to have them check in on your home occasionally.
  • Notify Trusted Neighbors - Telling your neighbors that you'll be away can let them know to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Make sure they have your contact information, just in case.
  • Lock Windows and Doors and Set the Alarm - Check the locks of every window and door, even unused ones, for peace of mind. If you have an alarm, set a code for use by your local emergency contact and notify the alarm company that you'll be away.
  • Provide Contact Information - Before you leave, put the contact information for you and for your local emergency contact in a conspicuous place. On the off chance of a major emergency, it'll help police officers or other emergency workers contact you quickly.