1. Make your home look lived in.
- Set timers to control lights and a radio to confuse would-be burglars.
- Have a trusted neighbor collect any deliveries.
- Cancel newspapers and forward your mail.
- Forward telephone calls and turn off the phone’s ringer so these don’t give away your absence.
- Arrange for thorough snow removal. Encourage a neighbor to park in your driveway.
2. Secure property.
- Give police your travel plans and contact information.
- Put small valuables in a safe-deposit box.
- Put outdoor furniture and grills in a locked garage.
3. Reduce energy consumption and fire hazards.
- Set thermostat to 50°.
- Unplug electronics and cleaned refrigerators and freezers, with doors propped open.
4. Prevent water damage.
- Clean gutters.
- Turn off water supply to house if heating system allows.
- Turn off and drain water heater.
- Disconnect dishwasher and laundry machines. Winterize according to manufacturer instructions.
- Drain and blow out pipes. Pour RV antifreeze down each drain to fill traps.
- If water must stay on, open cabinet doors that conceal plumbing to allow circulation of warmer air and prevent frozen pipes.
- Allow your trusted neighbor to monitor house temperature using a wireless outdoor thermometer; the sensor goes in your house and the receiver stays in your neighbor’s. Or, use a red bulb in a lamp connected to a temperature-sensitive outlet to signal your neighbor of dangerous temperature drops.
5. Consider harnessing technology.
- Smartphone apps allow you to monitor your home and control lighting, temperature, and other functions from anywhere you have a cellular or Wi-Fi signal.