During the winter, people frequently travel south to get away from cold weather. Whether people are taking a vacation, visiting family over the holidays or snowbirds are heading south for the winter, house sitters can be extremely useful.
Winter presents a number of unique situations and challenges for house sitters; you need to be ready and willing to deal with these situations as part of the job. We’ve put together a list of common things to be prepared for when house sitting during the winter months.
Break-and-enters are more common
Thieves love the holiday season. Break-and-enters increase each year during the holidays, and thieves specifically target homes of people who are away on vacation, a reason why more and more people are hiring house sitters while they are away, even if they don’t have pets.
Thieves are more active this time of year because they tend to be more desperate and because homes tend to be stocked with more valuable items, such as holiday gifts. When watching a home, especially in an area you are not familiar with, it’s important to be extra cautious and be on the lookout for people who appear suspicious. Do your best to always give the appearance of being home, even if you aren’t. You can do this by leaving on an outside light when you are out, and leaving on a light and a radio in the house. Even something this small could deter a burglar.
Snow and ice
Part of caring for someone’s home during the winter means making sure their property drive and walkways are clear of snow and ice. Make sure you get out the shovel when it snows so the mailperson, delivery drivers, and others don’t slip when on the property. No one wants to deal with a slip and fall that was preventable, right?
Plus, this also shows potential thieves that someone is home, which helps to reduce the odds of the home becoming a target. Don’t forget to pack your mittens, hat, and boots!
Winter storms can hit at any time. When you have a house sitting gig scheduled, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the weather forecast to get an idea of the weather you can expect. If a winter storm is forecasted, then you may need to take additional measures to secure your client’s home. Make sure you ask them about specific tasks to complete to protect their home from the storm – every home is different.
It’s also important to ask them about their winter emergency kit. If they don’t have one, make sure you identify important items that would typically be in an emergency kit. Being in an unfamiliar home during a storm or if the power goes out can be stressful.
Make sure you can locate:
The fuse box and furnace
Sources of lighting (flashlights, candles, etc.)
Blankets and extra clothing
Tools and materials for emergency repairs
A list of emergency numbers
It’s also important to know where the nearest gas station or grocery store is located so you can stock up on supplies if the storm is expected to last for an extended period of time.
Winter is also the most common season for travel delays, and it’s not uncommon for travelers to have their flights delayed due to winter weather. Knowing this ahead of time, it’s important to talk with your client about alternative plans for caring for their home if their flight is delayed.
Will you extend your stay? Will you pass the duties on to a family member of theirs? How will you be compensated for your extra time? These are all questions to think about when agreeing to take a house sitting job in the winter, and working out these arrangements ahead of time will make things less stressful if your client does, indeed, experience some sort of delay in their travels back home.
You can never be too prepared when agreeing to watch another person’s home. House sitting during the winter comes with its own unique set of challenges. Poor weather conditions, property maintenance, power outages, and increased chances of break-ins all pose a threat to you as a house sitter. The more prepared you are to deal with these situations, the more comfortable you will be in your role, regardless of the home you are watching or what time of the year.
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