Plan for a happy, stress-free vacation

Plan for a happy, stress-free vacation

Spring is in the air!

No, really! It’s that time of year when families begin planning their annual March break trips, looking forward to a break from winter’s doldrums.

The winter blues seem to strike every year between the Christmas holidays and Easter. March break, which falls between the two holidays, offers families the opportunity to bust out of the winter rut. This year’s school break in Ontario takes place March 12 through March 16. If you are planning an early spring vacation, good for you! The staff at Miller Restoration have put together a list of safety tips meant to protect your home while you are away. As a member of Disaster Kleenup International, our staff has seen the worst: Our teams have helped families just like yours recover after damage from storms, from fire and from floods. Which brings us to tip number one:

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1. If damage occurs to your home while you are away on vacation and your home is vacant (especially regarding flood and fire damage), it is a distinct possibility that your insurance company will withhold coverage. Tip number one would be to review your insurance policy when planning your vacation. Find out if you are covered during vacation before you leave – don’t wait until after the fact.

2. Tip number two is closely linked to tip number one. Ensure your home won’t be vacant by finding a responsible house sitter. This can be a family member, someone from an agency or a friend – you’ll need a responsible adult who can clear snow from the driveway, pick up the papers and the mail, and keep lights on at various times. Some insurance policies require this person to remain in residence overnight, while some policies permit a property-checker to visit your house daily.

3. Tip number three involves the use of social media and your voicemail message. Be cautious about using social media to announce you are going on vacation; refrain from posting photos until you have returned. Our world is not as innocent as it used to be, and there are thieves who would be on the lookout for signs of vacancy (that’s another good reason to employ the services of a house sitter).

Don’t be tempted to change your voicemail message, either. You can always call in and check for messages, if you must.

4. Tip number four deals with precautions you can take inside your home to prevent or mitigate damage in case disaster strikes. These tips may be useful if you have elected not to use a house sitter, but have someone checking the property daily:

- arrange for boarding of family pets;

- ensure mail and papers are collected daily, or request service interruptions from Canada Post and your local papers (don’t forget the free ones);

- put lights on timers;

- set thermostat to lower temps, but keep it warm enough so pipes won’t freeze;

- set water tank to “vacation” setting;

- consider installing a battery backup for your sump pump;

- arrange for a service to clear the driveway in case of snow;

- arrange for one of your neighbours to use your driveway;

- protect valuables by moving them to a secure location, and

- unplug any non-essential appliances, like the coffee maker, toaster oven, kettle, stereo, printer, computer or TV. In case of a power surge, these would be protected. Unplugging them will also help keep your energy bill lowered while you are away.

5. The last tip concerns your personal safety and the information you might want to share with your house sitter or property checker, and with a responsible neighbour or family member before you leave for vacation:

- Contact information, including cell numbers, how to reach you through your office, and the numbers for all the places you will be staying. Include the number for your insurance company along with your policy number, in case disaster strikes;

- Your itinerary. Omit nothing: Give travel information, flight numbers, and expected times of arrival and departure; 

- Put together a package of personal information to leave with a trusted family member or a professional, such as your lawyer. Include the itinerary; passport numbers; credit card and banking information; contact information for close family; medications list and will.

If you do not have a house sitter, but have someone checking the property daily for you, it’s a good idea to give them access, but leave the above list with your lawyer or a close relative not travelling with you. Then, give the contact information of this person to your property-checker. 

The staff at Miller Restoration want your family vacation to be a fun, stress-free, restorative break. Taking a few precautions before you leave will ensure your home and property are protected during your absence. Are you in need of cleanup or advice following a disaster in your home? Our experts at Miller Restoration would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Call the Miller office at 905-688-9224, or contact us HERE!

We hope you have a great vacation!