Adjusting the thermostat down to the lowest possible setting tops the to-do list for snowbirds before heading south to enjoy winter in the sun.

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 are away for an extended period of time. Consider the following tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 are away.

6. Arrange Outdoor Maintenance

You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Make arrangements for snow removal while you are away.

7. 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.

8. Notify Trusted Neighbors

Telling your neighbors that you will be away can let them know to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Make sure they have your contact information, just in case.

9. 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 will be away.

10. 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 will help police officers or other emergency workers contact you quickly.

This list is a good place to start, but you may have additional steps that you like to take in your own home. If you have some tips that are not mentioned here, please feel free to add them in the comments below.