Winter Holiday Checklist: Keep Your Home Safe

Unplug small appliances to save energy before going on vacation.
Unplug small appliances to save energy before going on vacation.

When I am lucky enough to be able to take a vacation in the winter, I am so excited planning my itinerary, booking hotels and flights, ensuring my passport is current and getting my wardrobe organized. Going on a holiday with loved ones or friends is a great way to give me a chance to bond together, and research has shown that vacations often make families happier.

But even though you may be consumed with the details of vacation planning, it’s also a good idea to do everything you can to ensure that your home is kept safe and that you are conserving energy while you’re away. Here are some of the steps I take before I go on vacation in the winter to ensure that my home is in one piece when I return and that my vacation is stress-free.

Grand Turk Beach, By Jersyko at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Grand Turk Beach, By Jersyko at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Ensure Your Smoke Detectors are Working

You can install a monitored smoke detector that is hooked up to your home’s security system and this system will alert authorities if there is a fire. Many smoke detectors are controlled by batteries and make loud noises, but don’t alert the authorities because they are not hooked up to a security system.

Smoke detectors must be installed on every level of your home, and they must be installed them near sleeping areas. A monitored smoke detector can trace the signs of a fire and alert the fire department in order to protect your belongings whether you’re home or away so make sure you comply with this regulation for the safety of your family and home.

Check Your Home’s Plumbing

The last thing you want is to return from your vacation only to have plumbing problems such as a ruptured pipe in your home. Many people turn off the main water supply valve because they know they won’t be using any water when they go away. Another way to prevent leaks is to get your home’s plumbing checked out by a professional.

You should be getting regular plumbing checks done whether you’re going away or not, and you can hire an experienced plumber in your area to come check on things in order to avoid expensive plumbing issues that can be a drag in the winter.

Empty Your Refrigerator

Clearing your fridge of certain foods that will expire is a good way to avoid foul smells and waste when you return home. Emptying your fridge seems like an obvious thing to do before you leave for vacation, but did you know that there are efficient ways to go about this chore that can reduce wasted food? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Eat foods in the fridge that can’t be frozen such as yogourt, milk, cheese, eggs, lettuce;
  • Instead of eating dried goods such as cereal for breakfast, use the eggs and cheese in the fridge to make an omelette;
  • Use foods that are in your fridge such as cheese, milk, open can of tomato sauce to make meals that can be frozen e.g. lasagna;
  • Use opened tubs of yogourt or cartons of milk to make smoothies.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of what groceries you are buying leading up to your vacation so that you don’t end up buying food that will go to waste.

Unplug small appliances to save energy before going on vacation.
Unplug small appliances to save energy before going on vacation.

Unplug Small Appliances

Another important item on your winter holiday checklist is to ensure that small appliances such as phone chargers, coffee makers, electric toothbrushes, lamps, TVs and stereos are unplugged in order to reduce wasted energy. You may want to consider buying a timed power bar that will keep all your electronics plugged in together and allow you to program a desired time for it to turn on and off.

Check Your Water Filtration System

Many homes have water filter systems. While some may be more complex than others, it’s extremely important to make sure that you give your system the attention it deserves. Not replacing water filters undermines the taste and quality of your water. There is lots of water purification information available online to help you choose the best water filters for your home.

Prevent Pests from Entering Your Home

Check weatherstripping and insulation on windows and doors to prevent the entry of pests or animals. Close your fireplace flue to prevent the entry of squirrels or birds. Have a chimney service inspect your chimney to ensure it is free from obstructions.

It’s important to remember what you need to do for your home before you go on vacation in order to reduce wasted energy. Following this winter holiday checklist will help make sure your house stays clean, safe and that you aren’t wasting energy.


  1. These are all great tips to keep our home safe during the winter holiday. I so love finding new ways to stay safe and the checklist is perfect for me to remind me!

  2. These are great suggestions. No one wants to come back from vacation to a disaster that could be avoided just by taking a few extra precautions. One of the things that we have are cameras and that gives us an added sense of safety. It is really easy to monitor them via phone or iPad.

  3. These are great tips and will definitely follow your advises so that I become worry free in this season.

  4. Definitely good tips! I recommend the “quarter test” for the freezer. We just came back from a 4 day trip and a breaker blew on our garage fridge while we were gone and of course, everything was ruined. I hate thinking about how if the power had just gone off and then come back on, everything would have re-cooled/refrozen and we would never have known. (until it was too late.)

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