Keeping your Cottage Safe this Season

Jul 20, 2017
Categories: Home Insurance · Safety · Security · Travel
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After you’ve done all the work opening your cottage, getting everything set up, and taking care of every little expense related to it, you’re going to want to get some serious relaxation on this summer.

Unfortunately, while the cottage can be a place of blissful R&R, it can also be a source of frustrations. From theft to storm damage, there are more than a few things a responsible cottage owner needs to be aware of if they want to enjoy their home-away-from-home all season long.

Make your cottage less appealing to mice by spritzing the place with peppermint. Take peppermint oil, cut it with water in a spray bottle and scent the cottage liberally with the mix. While people generally like the scent of peppermint, mice can’t stand it. Dabbing cotton balls with peppermint oil and leaving them in food storage areas is another excellent way to help dissuade rodent intruders.

Protect your piece of Ontario paradise by keeping your cottage safe from rodents and well-maintained throughout the summer season.

Crime stoppers

It’s a sad reality, but incidents of cottage break-ins are becoming more common in Ontario’s vacation getaways. Cottage security isn’t an idea many of us spend a lot of time thinking about, but it’s become a more pressing concern to consider in recent years.

While you might think a small cottage in the middle of nowhere would be safe from crime, family cottages make a lot of sense as robbery targets. Many cottages now resemble cozy living rooms with high-end electronics just waiting to be plucked and pawned. Or, for the more practically minded thief, a likely source of alcohol and free food. All those steaks you have in the freezer and that bottle of Jameson you were counting on to keep you warm at night might end up in the hands of someone else if you’re not careful.

The very nature of cottage properties means there are going to be long periods of time when you’re not around to keep an eye on things. So, what can you do to lower the chances of a break-in? The answer is simple: Make your cottage a less tempting target.

While cottage break-ins are more common these days, they are still unsophisticated crimes. Few cottage robberies are carefully planned heists – they tend to be crimes of opportunity or impulse. You’re not dealing with Ocean’s 11 here, just by making a break-in slightly harder to pull off or less obviously rewarding, you’ll greatly reduce your odds of one occurring in the first place.

Be smart about your belongings. Place expensive items out of view from windows whenever possible. If you have stereo or video game equipment, pack them away in a closed entertainment center or drawer when you are going to be gone.

Look at the outside of your property. Make sure every possible entrance has a decent lock on it and make sure to put away any tools such as shovels, wood axes, or loose bricks that could be used to break a window.

This includes your yard furniture. Things like ladders and tables might inadvertently allow thieves to use your own stuff to gain access to an otherwise inaccessible window. Stow furniture away when it’s not in use. If you’re cottage doesn’t have a secure shed or crawlspace to pack things away in, it may be worth adding a lockable shed to your property.

Just like in the city, automatic lights on timers, motion activated floodlights, and alarm systems may help deter thieves. While it’s true that an alarm or light is going to be less effective in an isolated or remote location, it may still set a potential thief on edge enough that they decide to find a more appealing target.

Also, this should go without saying, but lock down all your valuables. Chain your barbeque to the deck or a secure anchor point. Take your boat or canoe with you when you leave or at least strap them down securely when not in use, don’t let someone just walk up and toss your canoe in the back of their truck. And NEVER leave any firearms in an unoccupied cottage. That is a recipe for at best a legal headache, and at worse a real tragedy.

At the beginning of the season, take a quick trip around your cottage and snap a few photos (or even video) of the property, its condition, and any notable valuables. This will help in the event of an insurance claim.

Cottages are becoming prime locations for opportunistic thieves. Keep our safety tips top of mind to ensure you don’t become a target.

Dealing with Mother Nature’s bad side 

When you head out to a cottage, you’re hoping to get a little closer to nature. But, not too close! Every year, unfortunate cottage owners make the drive up to their little hideaway only to discover a tree branch has crashed through a window or some uninvited critters have taken up residence. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by taking a few simple preventative measures early in the season.

First, walk around your home-away-from-home and survey the area. Note any overhanging branches or dying trees that may be a little too close to your cottage or where you park your vehicles. Trim what you can and consider turning any dead or dying trees into fire wood for the season.

This is a good time to inspect any nearby telephone poles and wires going into your place. Remember, in an isolated community, those poles and wires could be decades old. If they look shaky, make sure to call up the phone company and report your concerns. You don’t want a bad storm taking down any lines near your place.

Mice and other pests can be a nuisance for any cottage (if you think your cottage is comfy, imagine how it appears to mice – warm, full of food, and no predators!) If you discover the telltale signs of an infestation, you need to take immediate steps to combat the problem.

Secure all food in sealed plastic containers and all waste in tied bags and lidded garbage cans. Next (sadly) set traps for the little guys. Whether you use the traditional snap mousetrap or opt to employ a humane live trap is up to you. If you use the live trap though, remember that the mice will return unless you release them a considerable distance away (some say a mouse can find its way back to a location up to 4 km away, clever little brats).

Now, make the cottage less inviting. Close off any gaps, holes, or possible entry points by packing them with steel wool and sealing them over with caulking or sealing foam. The more difficult you make it for pests to get in, the fewer you’ll have to deal with.

The peaceful cottage is an Ontario tradition. Make sure yours remains an idealistic getaway with our tips, tricks and best practices.

Chip-chip chimney

Lastly, make sure your wood stove is safe for the season. Nothing is better than snuggling together with your sweetheart by a nice warm wood stove on a quiet, cool night. But, you need to make sure everything is in tip-top shape so that cozy scene doesn’t turn into coughing fits or a frantic rush for a bucket of water.

At the beginning of the year, inspect the stove, chimney, and roof where the chimney exists for any signs of wear or damage. Check to make sure nothing has gotten into the chimney (vermin, debris, nests, or whatever else) and the air flow is clear. Ensure that the ashes in the stove aren’t too high and clean them out when necessary.

Avoid burning pine and always try to keep the heat up when your burning any kind of wood. It might seem like a good idea to keep a small fire going at a low temperature, but prolonged low-temperature fires and the use of pine wood is what causes a buildup of creosote in the stove and chimney, a flammable material that could cause a fire later. Also, crack a window when you have a nice fire roaring, this will help avoid a back draft situation when someone opens a door later.

Keep these tips in mind and the worse thing you’ll have to worry about this cottage season are bad John Mayer acoustic covers when your old college friend has had a few too many cold ones. In that case, the only advice we can give you is this: RUN.

[Royalty-free stock images courtesy of Pexels.]


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