Snowbirds! Fly North This Summer With Your Phoenix Winter Vacation Home Secure

It’s May in Phoenix, Arizona and it’s getting hot!  You and your retired Snowbird friends are heading for a cooler climate.  Here are 35 strategies to help you secure your home for your departure.
There are a number of general things to do in preparation for “flying north.”  Make sure to update your emergency contact information with your Home Owners or Community Association including giving them the name of your emergency key holder and who has a key.  If available, sign up for any Vacation Watch programs your community offers.  Some police departments have vacation check programs. Notify them, and generally they will do a routine check of the house. While some will only drive by and look for suspicious activity, some will get out of their vehicles and inspect the grounds looking for any break-ins. If contact information is left with the police, they can phone the homeowners if there has been a break-in or disturbance.  Check to see if you need to renew your driver’s licenses and/or vehicle plates before leaving.

Arrange for services such as landscaping, pest control and pool services if needed.  Contact your internet provider and cable company to stop service or start vacation hold.  Arrange for mail forwarding and newspaper stop.  Ask a neighbor to pick up stray newspapers, flyers, packages etc. and make sure that neighbor has your contact information and a key.  Ask the neighbor to park in your driveway occasionally to make the home looks occupied.  Consider using a professional home watch company to care for your home.

If you have never done so, take photographs or videos of all your expensive items.  If needed this would be helpful for both the police and the insurance agency to identify the stolen goods. Store valuables in a place that a burglar could not access.  (i.e., take jewelry to a safe-deposit box, lock computers in closets, hide keys to extra cars, etc.)  Be sure to remove all valuables from sight.

In the kitchen remove food from the house to discourage pests. Store staples such as sugar or flour in sealed metal, glass or thick plastic containers.  The best refrigerator solution is to turn it off, empty it and prop open the doors.  The next best solution is to empty out items which will spoil and add items like bottles of water, etc. to help retain the cold and help the unit use less energy.  Don’t forget to turn off the ice maker and place a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors.  If you have candles and plan to leave your refrigerator on, place the candles in the fridge so they don’t soften during the summer.

Regarding other appliances, put 2-3 tbsp. of vegetable oil in the dishwasher to keep the seals moist.  Do not latch the door.  Also put 2-3 tbsp. of vegetable oil in the garbage disposal to help keep it from locking up.  Remember to unplug other appliances throughout the house.  Open the door on the clothes washer.

With telephones turn off the ringers so thieves can’t hear if no one is answering the phone.  Don’t leave a message on the answering machine that tells callers you’re out-of-town.  Instead, say you’re away from the phone and you’ll get back to them.

To help add moisture for the furniture place several 5 gallon buckets of water around the house.  Close blinds.  If using timers, leave the blinds open slightly to let light shine out so the home looks occupied.  Open all doors to rooms and closets to allow for air flow.

Regarding water, in the bathrooms wrap toilet bowls with cling wrap to keep the water from evaporating.  Do not put bleach tablets in the tank. Turn off inside water valves at the washer, under sinks, and at toilets.  Valves like to be used.  Better yet, shut off the main water valve when leaving.

Change the furnace filter(s) especially if you are leaving the A/C on.  You could turn it off completely but if not, set it to a high temperature (95) in the summer.  Check / close fireplace damper.  Lock all doors and windows placing wood dowels in the tracks of sliders where possible.

Outside the home pick the remaining ripe fruit from trees to avoid falling fruit accumulating under the tree.  Trim trees and bushes away from the house so as not to obscure windows and doors.  Set the irrigation timer to the summer watering cycle.  Replace the 9v battery if not done so in a while.  Drain water features and treat with appropriate chemicals to avoid mosquito infestation.   Store the patio furniture and barbecue grill in the garage. 

Speaking of the garage, disconnect the car battery.  Leave golf cart batteries on trickle charge.  Fill the golf cart batteries and car battery.  Turn the water heater to vacation or pilot.  Disconnect hot water circulator or set it to the off position.

Just before leaving shut off the house main water valve but do not touch the landscaping water valves.  Unplug the garage door opener or lock garage door.  Turn on the security system if you have one.  Double check that all doors and windows are locked making sure the door between the garage and the house is locked.  Leave by the front door and lock it!

Now you’re set to enjoy your trip!

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