Tips for Snowbirds Leaving Your Florida Home

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Leaving your winter home can be a stressful time.
Leaving your winter home can be a stressful time. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Closing a house for the season involves many tasks and can be hectic. Keeping a proper checklist of things that need to be done, and phone calls that need to be made, is very important. Some of the preparations can be done on your own, but you need to rely on friends or neighbors to be certain your home will be well cared for while you are gone.

Electrical

Unplug all of your electrical appliances. Being the lightning capital of the world, Florida is the most likely place for a power surge to sweep through a home and destroy anything plugged in to a power outlet. Also, there is no need to have your electronics wasting money by drawing even the smallest amount of electricity. Your refrigerator, however, should remain plugged in. Turn off the circuit breaker for your hot water heater, as you will not be needing hot water while you are away, and put fresh batteries in all of your smoke alarms. Also, turn off your heating and air-conditioning unit(s).

Plumbing

Ensure all faucets are turned off. Turn off your washing machine's water supply and the water supply lines for each of your toilets. Securely seal off your toilet bowls with plastic wrap so cockroaches won't enter your home through the plumbing after the lines dry out.

Stoppage of Service

While you are away, you will not need your cable, Internet, phone or newspaper services. Be sure to contact your providers and have them cancel or put your services on hold. Most of these companies have other snowbird clients and will have no issues with temporarily suspending your services. You should not cancel your water or electricity services, however. If you pay for a monthly golf or gym membership, place those on suspension as well, or cancel them and re-join when you return.

Informing Others

If you live in a retirement community, contact your security office and inform them of your departure. You may wish to leave a key with the security office in case of an emergency, but this is not a requirement. Whether you live in a retirement community or not, ask someone you trust to stop by every so often to tend to plants and retrieve any mail or flyers from your porch (a mailbox overflowing with flyers is a sure sign of an empty house, making your home a target for burglary). Give your neighbor an updated contact list with phone numbers and an email address where you can be reached if an emergency occurs.

Hurricane Proofing

Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30, though it is not unusual for hurricanes to hit Florida outside of this time frame. Most snowbirds head to Florida in October and return home in April or May. Some wait until after Christmas to head to Florida, enjoying only three or four months of a Floridian winter. Since you will not be there to secure your property should a hurricane strike, put up your storm windows and take all other precautions to protect your home from hurricane damage before leaving. Also consider asking a friend or neighbor to do this should there be a need, saving you from having your house appear condemned for the time you are away.

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