North American Snowbirds move South for the Winter

How to Protect your Home and Business Premises

It is that cold dark time of year in the North United States when fall turns into winter, and when many citizens begin their annual trek south for the winter to warmer locales such as California ,Arizona,Florida,Texas and other locations along the southern sun belt. Some ‘snowbirds’ even opt to migrate further south to places such as Mexico, or even overseas to countries such as Australia and Italy. More than one million seasonal residents head to Florida alone each year, with plans to soak up the sunshine for at least five months. While traditionally this habit has been largely confined to retirees, more and more business owners whose businesses can be easily moved from place to place and those on independent incomes, are finding their way to a warmer climate in the winter.

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If you are leaving your own home or business premises for an extended period this winter it is important that you close up for the season. Home security is a critical issue, especially if you're away from your home for a long period of time. Everyone, regardless of whether they are travelling away or not, should take some key steps to ensure against any unwanted intruders to help avoid expensive damage or homeowner’s insurance claims. However, it is even more important to prepare your house if it will be vacant during the coldest and darkest months of the year when you won't be there to notice any problems or issues which may arise.Similarly, if you are a business owner who operates a seasonal business or are lucky enough to work in an industry which can easily be transported to a warmer climate, it is vital to close up your permanent business premises and ensure that it is protected from any potential intruders.

So what precautions should you take to ensure that when you and your family return next year that there is not a nightmare waiting for you?

  • At your home stop your newspaper and other deliveries and remember to forward your mail to your winter address. Also have a neighbor or a friend check the house at least weekly to make sure any flyers or packages that are delivered while you're gone don't build up as this can make your home look unoccupied.
  • At your business address it is also important to ensure your mail is being forwarded to a separate mailbox or you can have your deliveries held at the post office during the winter season to avoid the premises appearing vacant.
  • It is important to sort through any filing cabinets or storage units you may have at home or in the office and lock up any documents that contain sensitive information such as account information, financial records or intellectual property information. It is also important to disconnect the computer from the Internet; you don't want to provide thieves with an opportunity to hack into any private accounts if they do access your premises.
  • Secure all doors and windows with deadbolt locks whether it is in your home or at your business premises. We would recommend installing security locks on sliding glass doors or French doors. You may also consider installing variable light timers, which turn lights on and off at different times to make it look like someone is at the premises.
  • Installing a monitored alarm system which alerts the police to any attempted intrusion is a key consideration for anyone leaving their home or business for the winter season. If you already have a security system in place be sure to notify the company as well as the local police athoritites that you plan to be away for a certain period.
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