8 things to do before leaving home for the holidays

Above: Keep your home and valuables safe while you hit the road this holiday season. Lifestyle | 27 Nov |

Each year, millions of Americans pack up and head out on vacation or to visit family during the holiday season — the majority traveling more than 250 miles from home. Whether you’re planning a tropical getaway or a trip back to your hometown, being away from home and out of your routine can expose you and your unattended home to theft and other unwelcomed incidents.

Protect yourself from some worst-case scenarios by keeping these 8 tips in mind from Erie Insurance:

1. Share your itinerary: Let a few trusted people know where you are going and when. They will more than likely text you if they need to reach you, but you should still share the rundown of your travel plans, including departure and arrival dates, flight numbers and times and a contact number where you’ll be staying. After all, a backup is always good in case something happens to your phone (or your ability to charge it).

2. Take care of deliveries: Don’t forget to have something done about your mail. If a neighbor can collect it daily, that’s an easy way to also keep tabs on your place. Otherwise, simply request that the postal service hold it for you. This is the holiday season, of course, so leave instructions for all packages too.

3. Don’t forget snow removal: Nothing screams “No one’s home!” like a driveway heaping with untouched snow. Hire someone to come by and remove the snow and ask a neighbor to pull up and turn around in your driveway from time to time, just to leave tracks.

4. Lights: What’s the easiest way to deter a burglar? Make them doubt that they are working with an empty house. Invest in a set of timers for your TV room and bedrooms and set them to switch on lamps at various time. Also leave a radio tuned to a talk radio station—the sound of voices coming from inside could help deter a burglar.

5. Thermostat: If you have a pet-free home, you can lower the temperature to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warm enough to keep things from freezing, but cool enough to give your furnace and energy usage a break.

6. Water: Should a pipe burst or even leak while you’re gone, it could slowly empty water right into your basement and damage appliances, furniture and much more. Turn off the water main in your home before you leave and drain the pipes by flushing the toilets and turning on the faucets. Also turn your water heater down to “vacation mode” so you aren’t spending money on keeping water warm when you’re not around.

7. Electronics: Unplug everything that will not be in use while you’re away, including your washer and dryer, television, computer, toaster and coffee maker. Appliances can still consume energy when they’re plugged in and not in use.

8. Winter kit: Since a winter storm can hit with little warning, it’s a good idea to round up a few items to store in your trunk should you get stranded or stuck. Consider a sleeping bag, fresh water, non-perishable snacks, boots, jumper cables, shovel, a plastic jug filled with sand or cat litter and a red bandanna.

Planning is smart, but life is rarely predictable. For whatever is in store this holiday season, Erie Insurance is with you on the journey, ready to help when the unexpected happens. Find a local ERIE agent to ensure you have the right protection that’s current and meets your needs today.

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