It’s that time of the year when seasonal homeowners are starting to think about returning home from their Florida retreats.  Each year we are asked how to best prepare your home, condominium or investment property while you are away. The following are some “best practices” suggestions to help get your residence ready for your departure.

The most important decision you should make is hiring a professionally trained home watch company to care for your home.  To help you with this important decision we suggest that you review The Ultimate Home Watch Interview Guide prepared by the International Home Watch Alliance.  A vacant home is a vulnerable home and though we can’t prevent anything from happening hopefully we can minimize damages before they become a disaster!  It’s all about making an informed decision and the guide is designed to guide you through the process.  Follow this link to obtain your FREE COPY of The Ultimate Home Watch Interview Guide.

We suggest that you follow this Checklist:


  • Select a Home Watch Professional, such as Carefree Home Watch 
  • Check your home owner’s insurance coverage to make sure you have the proper insurance coverage for an “unoccupied home”
  • Have your roof inspected and gutters cleaned
  • Have your AC serviced, drip lines checked and cleaned
  • Consider replacing older thermostats and humidistats with new remote digital technology
  • Install deadbolt locks


  • Arrange for your mail to be forwarded
  • Arrange for your lawn to be cut, bushes and trees to be trimmed
  • Confirm alarm system is working and that you have some lights on staged timers
  • Provide your alarm code to Carefree Home Watch to deactivate alarm systems in the event of a false alarm
  • Stop newspaper delivery


  • Shut off the water valve to your washing machine and dishwashers if possible
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances, such as your washer, dryer and kitchen appliances
  • Clean your home thoroughly and remove food to discourage pest
  • Remove all perishable food from the refrigerator and freezer
  • Leave a toilet brush and toilet cleaner next to EACH toilet bowl
  • DO NOT close drains (if you get a leak there is no place for the water to go!)
  • DO NOT saran wrap your toilet bowls, we flush and brush every visit
  • Clear away towels, various items stored underneath sinks so that your pipes and drains are visible
  • SHUT OFF the icemaker, empty ice trays and leave them in the sink
  • DO NOT leave anything in the washer or dryers
  • DO NOT leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher
  • Lock all doors and windows and close drapes
  • Secure valuables that you are leaving in a safe deposit box or other location
  • Set thermostat to 75-77 degrees and fan to Auto
  • Turn the hot water heater to OFF at the electrical panel or to vacation mode, if gas
  • Turn water valve OFF at valve coming into the home
  • Consider securing the water valve with a water lockout device
  • Dispose of garbage and leave cans in your garage out of sight


  • Make sure you retrieve voice messages on your home phone so it does not indicate “full” when someone calls
  • Avoid posting your travel plans or about being away on social media
  • Notify Carefree when you will be returning and/or allowing guests to stay in your home
  • Notify Carefree when anyone is entering the home for any reason such as maintenance or cleaning, etc.


  • Remove dead branches or trees; have coconuts removed from trees
  • Make arrangements (with us!) to remove patio furniture, plants, grills or other loose items in the event of a hurricane
  • Make arrangements for storm shutter installation or closure in the event of a hurricane
  • Install fresh batteries in ALL SMOKE DETECTORS
  • Notify Police that you are away and that Carefree is watching your home
  • Provide emergency numbers and travel plans to Carefree


Know that your home is being cared for by trained and insured Home Watch Professionals and  your home will have Exceptional Care When You’re Not There.

If you would like a copy of our checklist, please contact us!

Larry Meek 239-910-0767, or
Terry Meek 630-712-6050,

Contact Carefree Home Watch at 239-234-1847, or for more information and a FREE home assessment.