Summer is in full swing and Ontarians are itching to get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily routine and take a well-deserved vacation.
Whether it’s a few days away at the cottage, a few weeks away visiting relatives or even a full month away with family or friends, there are some tasks that homeowners need to take care of before they pack up the car and hit the open road, says Phil Dorner, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association.
According to Dorner, “If you are leaving for an extended period, ask a friend or family member to house sit. This will give you some piece of mind, since thieves tend to target homes where it appears no one has been home for several days.”
“A house sitter can also collect your mail, look after your pets and make sure your plants are watered. If you are only leaving for a few days, have a neighbour keep an eye on your home and make sure that they are able to contact you, should any issues arise.”
If you don’t end up opting for a house sitter, here are some tips to help keep your home safe and comfortable for your return:
• Stop newspaper delivery and hold mail: Put a stop order on your newspaper and get Canada Post to hold your mail – they will hold it for two weeks or more and deliver once you return.
• Put away the spare key: The key under the flower pot may be convenient for you but it’s convenient for thieves too.
• Lights and blinds: Put timers on lights in different rooms of the home. The timers turn lights on and off at different times of the night to make it look like someone is home. Keep the blinds in normal position.
• Unplug electronics and major appliances: This saves electricity and protects your appliances from power surges.
• Turn off the main water supply: Shutting off the water will prevent potential leaks while away.
• Check the sump pump: If your sump pump fails while you’re away and a major storm hits, you could return to a flooded lower level.
• Turn down the air conditioning: Set the thermostat ten degrees higher than you would normally, to avoid wasting energy.
“The real trick is proper planning. Make sure that you let a neighbour in on your plans, even if you do have someone coming to look after your house – this way they won’t be alarmed when they see a stranger coming in and out of your home,” says Dorner.
Remember, although your vacation plans are exciting, keep them to your friends and family and avoid calling attention to the fact that you will be going away – do not announce your plans on your blog or on social media sites like Facebook and twitter.