Secure your home
It's that time of year again when families take a break and head out for the annual holiday. Before you go, here's a checklist that you can use to make sure your home is secured over the holidays.
Before you take a break, we offer some tips to help secure the safety of your home while you're away.
Check that your household insurance is up to date and remains valid for the time you are away. You should also check for any exclusions that may render the policy void, such as whether you are away for more than a certain number of days and if you should notify your insurer of a house-sitter.
Not everyone has the financial means to hire a house-sitter but we all have neighbours and friends. Ask someone reliable to check in on your home every now and then. Provide them with your contact information and give them a key so they can take in the post or gain access if there’s an emergency.
Secure important documents and valuable items in a safe place within your home - or deposit them in a bank.
Take a tour around the house to ensure that all the windows are secure and that all the doors have been locked. Fit ground floor windows with locks and make certain all exterior doors have deadbolt locks. You can add extra security to a sliding door with a deadbolt or wooden dowel placed in the groove of the door tracks. It won’t stop burglars from shattering the glass, but it will make this a less desirable entry option.
Make sure there are no noticeable signs that your home is unoccupied. Before leaving, mow the lawn, remove washing from the line and take in the refuse and recycling bins. Advise your local Neighbourhood Watch that you will be away so that they can help keep an eye on your property. Never leave the keys to your home under a doormat or plant pot outside.
Test your home security alarm and monitoring just before you go away to make sure it is working properly. Also, be sure to call your security company to inform them that you’ll be away, so that any alert gets taken seriously immediately.
Having curtains drawn throughout the day may appear suspicious, so leave them exactly as you would when you’re at home. Make sure any valuables such as laptops are not visible from the window.
Give your home the impression that it is occupied by installing timer switches to turn lights on and off. They are inexpensive and easy to operate. Some can even be programmed remotely using a smartphone app. Ask at your local Builders for more information on their range of lighting products. You may also consider installing motion-sensitive lights on your property, and if you have these, make sure all the bulbs work before you leave.
Avoid discussing holiday plans with strangers as you never know who they might pass the information on to. Likewise, don’t post detailed plans of your holiday on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. And never leave an answering machine message indicating that you’re not home. Rather say that you cannot take the call at that time.
If you are flying, don’t attach the labels to your luggage until you get to the airport check-in.
Keep this holiday checklist handy for your next trip away from home.