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Winter Blog Series, Part 3: Winter Travel

Park Avenue Properties - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Welcome back to the Park Avenue Properties Winter Series! We hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.  Now that the fall decorations are packed away and the Thanksgiving leftovers are dwindling, everyone seems to have one thing on their minds: the winter holidays! 

While some of us prepare to deck our halls with holiday cheer in preparation for guests to arrive, others are preparing to BE the guests. If you’re planning on being at someone else’s home for the holidays, you’ll want to make sure your home is secure so you don’t return to a disaster.

Avoid The Grinch
One of the worst things you could come home to is a burglarized home. The feeling of violation after discovering you have been burgled can stay with you long after the holiday cheer has worn off. Don’t be a victim! You don’t need a contraption straight out of Home Alone; here are some tips to make sure only the jolly elf himself is dropping in while you're not around:

  • A few well placed light timers can make a deserted home look bustling with life. The most important thing is to make sure that your home doesn’t look empty. An empty home is a good opportunity for Harry and Marv make off with some of their own holiday goodies without getting busted! Light timers are easy to use, no hassle to set up and with many options at tons of different price points, you are sure to find one that fits your needs. For the most realistic effect with only two timers, place a timer downstairs set to go on around 6:00 PM and turn off around 9:00 PM. Place your second timer upstairs, set to go on around 8:00 PM and turn off around 11:00 PM.
Bonus Tip: Timers like these can be very convenient for exterior and interior holiday decor when you’re at home too! However, when you are away, if you have an extensive exterior arrangement, not having it lit up at night is a clue to burglars that you’re not around. If you go for a Griswold style arrangement in your yard, make sure you hook up a timer to those lights as well.

  • If possible, leave a car in the driveway. Or better yet, let your neighbors know that you will be out of town and invite them to park their vehicle in your driveway. This way if anyone is watching, they will see a vehicle coming and going. 
  • Contact the postal service and put a hold on your mail. Not only will an overflowing mailbox be an instant giveaway that you're not around, but leaving documents that have your information on them sitting where strangers can easily access them invites identity theft. 
  • Many communities offer vacation check programs through the local police department. Services vary by location, but generally if you notify the police department that you will be out of town, at least once over the course of your vacation, an officer will drive by your home and do a quick exterior check on your home to make sure it is secure. Check with your local police department to see if the program exists in your area.  

Wrap It Up! 
There are better things to spend your time and energy on this time of year than dealing with leaks, breaks or other home maintenance emergencies right when you return from a trip. Be vigilant! Use these tips to button up the house properly so when you get back from the festivities, your only concerns are unpacking and playing with your new goodies:

  • Prepare your pipes! For longer term trips, drain your pipes and shut off the water valve. This is a good option to avoid a busted, frozen pipe as well as avoiding disastrous water leakages from appliances that use water. If you will only be away for a short time, simply leaving a faucet farthest from your water source to drip will safeguard against frozen pipes. 
Bonus Tip: Turn your heat way down, but don’t turn it off totally! Turning your heat down to about 50 degrees will keep your heating bill low but will keep the space warm enough to provide a little temperature cushion for your pipes to help keep them from freezing. Make sure to open up your closet and cabinetry doors to ensure that what little bit of warmth is being generated will get to all the pipes.

  • Unplug small appliances like your coffee pot, toaster, electric grooming tools and, even, TV and other entertainment system components. For anything that you must leave plugged in, like the home phone and answering machine, consider investing in a surge protector to avoid damage to the devices.

And Top It With a Bow
If you’ve made the considerations above, your home should be all set for when there isn’t a creature stirring. But here are a few extra tips to put the finishing touch on your preparations:

  • Turn off or turn down the temperature on the water heater. No one will be needing a warm shower while you're gone. Save a few bucks while you’re away! Just remember to turn it back to it’s normal settings before you jump in the shower to freshen up after you return from your travels! 
  • If you will be gone more than a week, you may want to adjust the temperature on the refrigerator and freezer. For regular use the temperature should be set so that it will stay up to temperature despite the door opening and closing regularly. When you are gone for a long period of time, the freezer in particular may over freeze at that current setting since no one is around opening the door and letting the freezing air out. Avoid this problem by adjusting the temperature to a lower setting. Check out the temperature controls on your appliance for more information on how to do this.
  • Dispose of any leftovers or food that will go bad while you’re away. You don’t want food rotting away in your fridge! You will also want to make sure that you wash any dishes with food on them and take out the trash. 
  • If you will be leaving any pets in the home to be cared for by a drop-in pet sitter, make sure to leave any necessary food, medications, veterinary information and your emergency contact information. Also, be sure not to turn the heat down too low or cut off the water supply. Your pet sitter will need to be able to access water for your little friend and you don’t want to leave Fido with an icicle on the end of his nose!
  • If your home is liable to get snow, you may want to enlist the help of a neighbor to keep your front walk and driveway shoveled. Perhaps, get one of the kids in the neighborhood to take on this responsibility. You can stuff his or her stocking with a little something extra for their efforts when you return!
Are you planning on traveling this holiday season? Leave us a comment and share with us where you’ll be celebrating this year. Hopefully, these tips will keep your home secure and free from issues. If something does come up, whether you're traveling or not, you know we’ve got you covered! Give us a call and we can help you resolve any issues with your home you may be facing this winter.  

Don’t forget to be on the lookout for the next edition of our winter series! We’re finishing up the winter series with some fun and festive cheer. Find us on Facebook, follow us if you haven’t already and keep an eye out for more winter fun to come. And don’t forget to follow us on TwitterInstagram and Pinterest for tips, decor and more, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for exciting home tours!

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