A simples guide

Keeping your home secure while on holiday

Picture the scene. A white beach stretching as far as you can see, the ripple of heat haze turning the air dream-like.  

 

Your phone chirrups and you turn a lazy head towards it. It’s your mum, bless her – calling to check that you’re not going sky diving, probably. You answer the call, your voice full of sunshine and rum.

 

“…darling, I’m terribly sorry to be the bearer of bad news but we’ve just had a call from the police and they say your house has been broken into...”

 

END SCENE.

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Home security is always important but most of all when you’re away

When we leave our homes, we put an awful lot of faith in the locks on our doors and windows. And when you think about it, someone’s who’s willing to enter your property and steal your possessions probably isn’t going to be put off by a single pane of glass and an old cheap and rusty lock.

The impact of a break-in cannot be understated. Yes – it’s just stuff and, if you have home insurance, it can probably all be put right fairly quickly. But the emotional effect is far, far greater. Your privacy, your safe place, has been violated; it’s hard to get over.

Around 60% of burglaries happen when the house is empty. But there are a few ways you can help your home stay secure while you’re away from it. 

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How you can keep your home secure while on holiday

1. Don’t advertise that you’ll be away

Putting a note out for the milkman seems like a grand idea – you wouldn’t want anyone thinking you’re being held hostage in the house as the bottles line up on the doorstep. But leaving a note for the Milkman that tells him exactly how long you’ll be gone for allows anyone else hanging around to also know too. Not good.

Similarly, loud holiday conversations in the local shop or hairdresser – where it’s easy to follow you home from – are best avoided. It sounds horrible but this is the reality: you can be targeted and people are every day.

And if you put a label on your luggage, don’t include your home address. There’s no greater sign a home will be empty than three massive suitcases making their way to the airport.

2. Leave a light on

Rather than shutting the curtains, which doesn’t work for the daytime and practically SHOUTS your absence - leave a light on. A timer system is the best way to protect your home while you’re away, as you can set it for different rooms and different times.

Alternatively, leaving a low-watt energy bulb on won’t use that much electricity and won’t be too obvious in the day.

3. Ask the neighbours to keep an eye out

It's easy to be mean about nosy neighbours. But those folks are pretty useful if you’re going away. Let your closest neighbours know how long you’ll be gone for, but ask them to avoid telling anyone else. “Oh, are you looking for Mr Smith? He’s away at the moment, gone for a week, lucky beggar!”

If you’re on friendly terms with your neighbours, ask them to pop in every few days to pick up the post and generally just be around to check everything is ok.

4. Avoid obvious clues

It’s a bit of a human compulsion to leave the house spotless when we go away. Sadly, this does rather point to an empty home. Leaving a few dishes in the sink (clean, of course!) makes things look a bit more lived-in.

Your post is another consideration: a big pile tells everyone there’s no one around. You can pay for Royal Mail to hold your post for up to two months (it’s called Keepsafe), but you could also get a neighbour to pop in.

5. Move valuables out of sight

Anything that looks expensive – even if it isn’t – is a temptation, so get anything fancy put away. That said, don’t put the real valuables in the usual places (under the bed, in the bedside table etc.) or you’re guaranteed to lose them if your house is burgled.

Remember: someone breaking in is probably under pressure time-wise. So making it a little harder for them is a good thing. There are plenty of nifty ways to secure your most precious valuables – think cereal boxes and old catalogues – so have some fun playing hide and seek.

new house

Other things you can do to keep your home safe while on holiday

1. Turn the water off

Leaks aren’t usually a big deal – if you’re home. Unfortunately, even a small leak left for a week or two can cause a major flood that damages your property and home.

If you’re away for a while, turn off your water at your inside stop valve (there’s plenty of help on YouTube if that phrase is a mystery to you). If you’re not gone long, just make sure all the taps are turned off tightly.

2. Unplug electricals

As well as saving a few pennies, unplugging everything you can at the wall protects your home from fire. Just don’t, in your absent-minded holiday-brained state, unplug the freezer or fridge unless they’re empty. Returning from holiday to rancid fish finger and ice cream soup is not what you want.

3. Check your home insurance policy

If the worst comes to the worst you want to be able to say, “At least the home insurance will cover it.” Before you go away, double-check you know what’s covered, how long your house can be empty (some insurers have a 60-day limit but it is usually 30 days) and the number you need to call if something happens.

Need to take out home insurance before you go on holiday? Start comparing now with comparethemarket.com.

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