Keep Your Cabin and Family Safe

By Craig Middleton

Cabins are a great place to go when the whole family needs to get away from it all or for some serious writing or painting time by yourself. Although most of your time there will be peaceful and happy, things can go wrong.

New Construction or Repairs

If possible, before building or repairing your cabin, make sure the roads are passable, that either a cell phone or landline is working and that there is nearby emergency help if needed.

Since all of your equipment has been stored in this location, maybe for years, take stock of what you’ll need to do whatever work you have planned. Make sure things like ladders are still sturdy and not likely to break on you.

Accidents can happen when you don’t have the correct equipment and need to improvise or “make do” with what you have.

No one likes to imagine accidents, but if they happen closer to civilization, there are usually family or neighbors around to get you help. If you’re away from it all, you need to be super cautious.

Thankfully, if you ever do need emergency assistance, some EMTs are now using electronic patient care reporting or ePCR. This eliminates the need for them to spend a lot of time on paperwork. It can also be used to get a report ready for the hospital.

This is a good idea for many reasons, but the most important one is that your emergency care providers can spend more time concentrating on you.


Naturally, you can’t just lock the door of your cabin in October and expect it to be in perfect condition when you return in May. You need to close it up properly. Taking time to do this can save you a lot of work or money when you return.

To prevent a fire, you will need to rake dry leaves away from the cabin, in fact, they need to be at least 30 feet away from the outside walls. Any leftover firewood needs to be stored that far away as well.

Next on the list is leak prevention. Shut off the water outside, where it enters the cabin. Even a small drip can totally flood a cabin over the winter. Inside, make sure the water pipes are all emptied out to prevent freezing.

Animals can also cause a huge mess if they decide to explore or even take up residence inside. First, don’t leave any food at all in your cabin. Forest creatures have a much better sense of smell than humans do and they will try very hard to get in if anything smells appealing to them.

Don’t store anything like birdseed for your feeders either. This would be very attractive to mice and you certainly don’t want to be overrun with them when you come back.

You could set some mouse traps around, but then you run the risk of returning to a cabin that has been permeated by the scent of a dead rodent. A better idea would be to place fabric softener sheets or mothballs along the walls to discourage them from coming in.

Inside, unplug everything electrical since one stray lightning bolt could ruin everything. Also, crack open the refrigerator door once you’ve removed everything and unplugged it.

One last thing is to put plastic sheeting over the beds and furniture. If the roof leaks or an animal decides to make your bed their home, your furniture might still be saved.

Closing up properly can avoid a big mess to clean up or even the loss of your cabin.


Return cautiously and be prepared for discoveries of any kind such as wildlife in the cabin or chimney, a power outage due to a downed line somewhere, or wet and smelly bedding. Make a checklist and stick to it.

After a bit of cleanup and plugging things back in, however, don’t waste your whole first day working. Schedule in some fun too!


Craig has worked in health, real estate, and HR businesses for most of his professional career. He graduated from the University of California – Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. When he’s not creating content or advising clients, he enjoys hiking and traveling with his wife. 

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