It’s no secret that summers in Michigan are beyond compare. With thousands of miles of pristine lakeshores and weeks on end with hot, sunny weather, the Great Lakes State is regularly the destination of choice for locals and tourists alike. The coastal regions and the proverbial “Up North” reaches of the state especially are essential facets of Michigan’s famed cottage industry. For Michiganders lucky enough to own a cottage, their memories of summer are often strongly tied to their quaint summer homes.
Anyone who lives in Michigan knows, however, that the flip side of a picturesque Michigan summer is a frigid, often volatile winter. While some cottage owners visit their cottages into the fall and winter, Labor Day usually heralds the end of the “weekend home” season. Of course, keeping any property vacant for long stretches of time involves a certain amount of risk both to the integrity of the residence and the belongings inside. As Michigan’s foremost experts on protecting homes and businesses, we’ve provided a list of tasks to help with winterizing your cottage so you can rest assured knowing your home-away-from-home is safe from the elements both natural and human.
Change out the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Just because no one is living in your cottage during the cold months doesn’t mean you have nothing to lose. In 2018 alone, some 387,000 fires in residences caused $8.2 billion in damages. Experts suggest changing the batteries out in smoke detectors every six months to avoid a tragedy. For cottage owners, this means the best times to switch the batteries out with new ones are upon reopening the cottage in the spring and shutting it down in the fall.
Moreover, carbon monoxide poisoning affects more than 50,000 people every year. If a leak occurs in your cottage, the toxic gas could build up to potentially lethal levels by the time you reopen in the spring. Keeping your devices and batteries up-to-date is critical in the fight against life safety threats.
Granted, it’s hard to know whether your cottage is on fire or furnace is spewing invisible, odorless gas if you’re back at home. The ability to both detect, alert, and dispatch on fires and carbon monoxide leaks is one of the greatest arguments for having your detectors wired to a security system and monitored by a professional security company.
Install/replace exterior lighting.
Simply keeping your outdoor lights on has shown to be a major deterrent against intruders. Burglars prefer the cover of darkness to sneak up to a house undetected and often balk at the prospect of walking across a well-lit and exposed yard or driveway. Before packing up the cottage for the winter, check to ensure your lamps are working properly and replace any that aren’t up to snuff.
Exterior lighting works particularly well in homes in more “crowded” residential neighborhoods, but in the more sparsely populated lakeshore or northern Michigan regions, burglars may be jaded by the omnipresence of motion sensor lighting or “always on” lights. (Additionally, keeping your lights on all winter is not kind to your energy bill.) Many cottage owners have turned to “smart” home security systems to assist in making it look as though someone is always present in their properties. For instance, with EPS Security’s Total Connect© platform, smart lamps and lights can be set on a schedule to turn on and off automatically at specified times—even for just an hour here or there. It’s far more cost effective than keeping your lights on and a more realistic illusion with which to confound would-be criminals.
Unplug electrical devices and turn off the water supply.
Some devices draw power whether they’re on or off including televisions, computers, and sound systems, so be sure to unplug them to minimize the risk of fire (and save yourself the money on your next electric bill.) Given how cold Michigan winters can get—especially “up north!”—it’s also a safe bet to turn off your water supply. Frozen pipes break and can cause catastrophic water damage, often requiring tens of thousands of dollars to repair—and that’s just counting structural damage.
Even with the water turned off, leaks can occur in the constant freezing-and-thawing pattern of fall and early spring. The best defense against unexpected leaks is monitored water detection, a service we at EPS Security have decades of experience with. Water leak detection devices help to alert at the earliest sign of errant water and are often used near sinks, sump pumps, and exposed pipes. By alerting a professional monitoring center at the start of the leak, these devices help home and cottage owners mitigate and minimize water damage.
Turn off any heating elements—and clean out your fireplace.
Space heaters cause an inordinate amount of home and office fires, so spare yourself the heartbreak and make sure your baseboard heaters are unplugged. Shutting down for the season is also a perfect time to clean out your fireplace, which can help remove flammable debris and save you the work in the spring. Finally, be sure to close your flue to prevent critters and the elements from making a stay in your cottage uninvited.
Remove any valuables.
Don’t leave anything of value in your cottage that doesn’t need to be there. It’s not just money, jewelry, or electronics, either, as medicine and guns are among the items most coveted by burglars. Leaving just the bare essentials makes your cottage a less enticing mark for burglars and leaves less to be damaged by water damage or fire.
A comprehensive, professional security system has many moving parts—a brain for processing, a communicator for signaling, and numerous field devices for detection. Security systems are major deterrents to burglars and can help signal an emergency within seconds of it occurring. Especially considering that your cottage may sit unwatched for months on end, it’s vital to make sure your monitored security system is functioning properly so it can watch your property for you.
If your cottage doesn’t have an EPS Security system, you’re likely missing out on the peace of mind that comes with knowing what matters most to you is under our careful watch 24/7/365. Modern technology allows those with second properties to view their system’s activity log, turn on and off smart devices, and check surveillance camera feeds with the press of a button on their smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers. As a company with six decades of experience serving Michigan communities, we understand the extent of the work you put in getting your getaway. As a family-owned security provider, we know how precious the memories you make are to you and yours.
The Michigan winter is just around the corner. Choose EPS Security and discover your customized security solution—one that’s 65 years in the making.