For our snowbirds out there, you’re probably getting ready to head south to warmer weather. Before you take off, make sure your home is safe and you can leave worry free!1. Make your home look like it’s occupied • Arrange for someone to remove snow from your driveway and sidewalks. • Put motion sensor exterior lights and interior lights on timers and set them to come on at different times to discourage prowlers. • Forward your mail, stop newspaper delivery and have a neighbor stop to collect door flyers. • Don’t shut shades or blinds if you normally have them open. Instead leave them how you normally would if you were home. You don’t want you house to stand out as looking different than it normally does. 2. Protect your home from thieves • Confirm your locks and alarm system are all in working order. • Secure windows and doors. Install slide locks on sliding doors as those are the number one door burglars go through. • Store valuables in a safe or offsite. At the very least, make sure that valuables are not left out in plain sight if someone were to peek in the window. • Notify your local police department that your home will be vacant. • Be careful on what you share on social media sites about your trip. 3. Protect your home from damage and save money • Turn down your heat, but don’t turn it off as you don’t want your pipes to freeze. It’s a good idea to keep your heat set to at least 55 degrees to prevent freezing within the walls. • Shut off water to prevent water damage due to frozen or leaking pipes. • Unplug appliances such as TVs, kitchen appliances and other similar devices that don’t need to run while you’re away. Unplugging them saves money as these appliances often still use some electricity even when not in use and prevents damage should a power surge or lightening hit your home. • Shut off utilities that don’t need to be used while you’re away. Many internet and cable companies provide snowbirds with the option to suspend services while away without any fees or penalties. • Open interior doors in your homes to allow air to circulate while you’re gone. • Leave your dishwasher and washing machine door open to allow the appliances to dry out and prevent mold growth.