Home safety measures to ensure peace of mind while you're away
Everyone knows when the school holidays are on – there’s less commuter traffic on the roads, the movie cinemas are jam-packed, and the neighbourhood streets are quiet as everyone heads out of town to their favourite holiday destination.
What is easy to forget is that while families are away relaxing, the school holidays are the perfect time for burglars to target your homes. Here are some simple steps which will help you and your family have a carefree school holiday break.
Lock in the basics – doors, windows and lighting
It’s common-sense to install good deadlocks on doors and windows as a primary security measure. A deadlock ensures even if an intruder does gain access, it isn’t easy for them to leave with large items.
It is also worth investing in window and door products which serve multiple purposes, such as
Sensor lights are another longer term investment which are not only useful when you arrive home late at night, but also make your property less attractive to potential burglars as they reduce any options for concealment during any break in attempt.
Having an inventory of your home contents also makes good sense. A quick and easy way is to photograph key items and store them digitally, along with copies of your up-to-date home insurance.
It’s also worth considering contacting your service providers and switching to electronic billing for key services like phone, water, gas and electricity. This helps to avoid mail building up in your absence.
The day before you leave
It’s good practice to make a basic check of your home exterior – make sure all the locks are deadlocked to stop intruders entering or leaving the premises. You can then take off on your holiday with complete peace of mind knowing that all
Put away any ladders or tools that might come in handy to an opportunist thief. Trim back any trees or shrubs around doors or windows that might assist burglars by concealing them as they try to break in.
Catch up with your neighbours and let them know you are going to be away. Most will be happy to keep an eye on your place, knowing you will return the favour for them in future. Depending on how long you are away for, see if they can check the mailbox and put out rubbish bins. Organise to leave any spare keys with either the neighbour or a nearby friend.
Make sure your valuables are locked away and any spare keys (e.g. for the second car or the garage) should be put well out of sight.
Set up timers on one or two of lights to come on in the evenings, and perhaps another on a radio to come on during the day. According to police, one of the best measures you can take to protect your home is to give the impression that someone is there.
Set the answering machine on your home phone with a message that doesn’t mention you are away. Restrict your message to simply to saying you "can't answer the phone at present". If you don’t have an answering machine, just turn down the volume of the phone ringer so that it isn’t noticeable the phone is not being answered to passing by.
To make your home look occupied, leave some shoes or kids toys by the front door. Some people even leave a few items of washing on the clothes line, but use your judgement – this is probably more suited to shorter holiday breaks.
Don’t make your departure too obvious to anyone passing by. Some find it best to pack the car in the garage or even the night before.
Make sure you’ve left your contact details with the neighbour or friend, just in case you need to be reached urgently.
While you’re away
Ask the friend with your spare keys and the neighbour to drop around to check on your home from time to time. If they can park their car in your driveway every now and then, even better. Anything which gives the impression someone is home, or that people are coming and going at unpredictable times, will help to deter would-be burglars.
If your holiday is for an extended period, consider having someone housesit, arrange for mail to be held at the Post Office, and for the lawn to be mown.
While it’s tempting to post on social media while you are having a great time on your holiday, make sure you use privacy controls and restrict viewing to close family and friends. It doesn’t pay to advertise that you are away in case that information falls into the wrong hands. Even better – consider logging off while you are away. Spend your time focusing on where you are and the fun you’re having and you’ll have more to share when you get home.