Keep your home base safe

Woman holding baby by window

When you make arrangements for your summer vacation or you gear up for a weekend getaway, it’s important to secure the home front, too. And while home insurance is essential, your trip preparations should include protecting the things you leave behind against theft or damage. Our tips can help you avoid coming home to a disaster zone.

Protect against water damage

The best way to ruin your vacation is to find that your house suffered water damage while you were gone. Water damage now surpasses fire as the leading cause of personal property claims in Canada.

Before you go on vacation, run through the following checklist:

  • Close the main water shut-off valve on your plumbing system.
  • Drain all appliances that hold water.
  • Shut off the energy supply to your waterheater.
  • Unplug electrical and electronic devices (computers, televisions, portable air conditioners, etc.).
  • Walk around the outside of your house to check for potential basement leaks.
  • If you have a hot tub, consider draining the water to prevent any leaks or electrical malfunctions.
  • Check with your insurance broker before you leave home to make sure you’re covered for any type of water damage and what other additional steps you may need to take, like having a neighbor check in on your home every few days.

Maintain a lived-in look to avoid break-ins

The financial impact of a burglary is obvious but the costs go beyond the value of lost property. A break-in can feel like an invasion, upsetting your emotional well-being and causing fear, insecurity, anger, or frustration.

Help outsmart potential burglars with expert tips to protect your home and belongings while you’re away:

  • Try to keep quiet about your vacation or cottage plans. Resist the urge to post holiday pictures on social media networks until you return; share your travel dates only with a few close family or friends.
  • Arrange for a neighbour or family member visit your home regularly to make sure everything is in order and to pick up mail, newspapers, and flyers before they accumulate at your front door.
  • If you plan to leave for a significant amount of time, make long-term arrangements—have the post office hold or forward your mail and have your bills delivered electronically.
  • Leave a spare key with a family member, friend, or neighbor—never leave a house key hidden on your property.
  • Invite a neighbour to park in your driveway for the duration of your trip.
  • If you’re away for more than a week, arrange for a friend or a landscaping company to mow your lawn.
  • Install motion-sensor outdoor lights to illuminate entrances at night.
  • Install a safety bar on patio doors or place a stick in the slide to prevent opening.
  • Deactivate the garage door opener and activate the alarm system.
  • Install a timer to turn lights on and off inside your home.
  • Put away any outdoor items that could be used to break into your home (ladders, tools, benches).
  • Empty your garbage cans and recycling bin.
  • If you have a safety deposit box, lock away valuables and important documents for the duration of your trip.
  • Draw your curtains and close the blinds to prevent curious passers-by from seeing into your house.
  • Secure all windows and doors; make sure all locks function properly. Install jams in sliding windows and doors.
  • If possible, arrange for a person you trust to house-sit while you’re away.
  • A monitored security system with a posted sign can help deter thieves and may qualify you for a discount on your home insurance.
  • Create an inventory of your possessions. Take pictures or videos of your valuables and always keep your receipts. Such records make it easier for the police and your insurance company should something be stolen during your absence.
  • Put your luggage in your car quickly just before you’re ready to leave. Bon voyage!