’Tis the season for office breaks, road trips back home, and vacations to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends. If you’re leaving your office or home unattended for the holidays, make sure your property is prepared and protected from the unexpected.

Whether a general maintenance sweep is routine or a hassle for you, these small steps from our public adjusters can prevent bigger problems like fire damage and theft:

Check the kitchen.

Is the oven off after baking those holiday cookies you’re taking to the in-laws? How about the stove burners after whipping up your favorite festive dish? Checking them once, then checking them twice may give you peace of mind.

Check the fireplace and stove.

Have you been using the fireplace to ring in the season and stay warm during cold winter nights? Maybe you’re using a coal stove instead. With either source, plan ahead to stop using it before you leave, since ashes take a minimum of four days to cool and even longer to safely dispose of to prevent a fire.

  1. Soak the ashes in water and let them sit for four days or more.
  2. Then carefully remove them into an approved fire-resistant metal plastic container and place this away from your property.
  3. After waiting a week, you can safely place the ashes into your trash (and preferably on trash day).

Set your thermostat.

Setting your thermostat at around 50° when you’re away will be warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing, bursting, and causing water damage and mold growth. If you set it any lower, not only may damages occur but this may strain your heating system when the time comes to heat your home or office back up again, which may then cause your system to malfunction and cause a fire. You may consider smart home devices and apps to let you monitor and adjust your thermostat from your smartphone while you’re away at the dinner table, ice rink or beach.

Clean your heating system’s filter.

For furnaces, boilers, and other systems, a clean and unclogged filter will help burn fuel efficiently and avoid malfunction, especially as you adjust your thermostat in the winter months.

Unplug items, lights, and appliances to avoid power surges.

You may need to charge new toys and gadgets before and after Christmas morning. You may have extension cords plugged into multi-outlets to illuminate your home’s Christmas tree and lights. Extensive use or overloading of these cords and items — especially items with lithium batteries like laptops, power tools, and certain toys — can overwhelm your property’s electrical system, cause overheating, and even spark a fire.

Safety Tip: Do not put more than one new electrical item on a two-pronged plug. Use separate plugs and outlets for all items. When away from your property, unplug these items, your lights, and your tree.

When you’re away, “show” that you’re there.

With families and property owners leaving for family visits and vacation, it’s a prime time for break-ins and burglaries. Show everyone in the neighborhood (strangers included) that you’re still home without even being there.

  1. Have a friend or trusted associate check in on your place every few days. Along with showing someone entering and exiting the property, this person can also make sure your heating system is running smoothly, shovel the driveway and walkway, and see if anything else potentially dangerous has happened.
  2. Set your indoor and outdoor lights on timers to give the impression that someone is actively in the house.

The holidays can be a time of relaxation and joy, especially knowing that your property is prepared in case of an accident or disaster. From our team to yours, have a wonderful holiday season and a happy and safe New Year!