Christmas is finally upon us, which for many Londoners means one thing: time to escape the city! But whether you’re heading to the Cotswolds or The Alps, the last thing you need is to worry about the security of your home while you’re away, or worse, come home to a break-in.
To keep your mind at ease, we’ve put together our top ten tips of how to keep your home safe and sound while you’re away, so you can enjoy your heard-earned break without a care in the world. Happy holidays!
1. Lock all windows and doors securely
As obvious as it may sound, you’d be surprised how many people forget to lock the bathroom window or bolt the terrace doors. Take the time to check every window, door and possible entrance to your property has been doubly locked, and never leave keys in the lock – keep them all in a designated safe place such as a drawer instead.
2. Unplug all electrical items
Avoid the consequences of an unexpected power surge by unplugging all electrical items while you’re away, including microwaves, televisions, kettles and toasters. Switch off the gas supply and check smoke alarms are in working order too, so if a problem did arise the neighbours would be alerted to it.
3. Don’t tell the world that you’re going away
As much as you want to boast on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that you’re off on a sunny holiday or enjoying a cocktail on the beach, wait until you return to share those envy-inducing pictures and updates. Not only will you be telling the world that your house is empty, you may also be voiding your insurance policy, as some companies refuse to pay out following a burglary if you’ve publicly declared your absence on social media.
4. Inform your building manager that you’re going away
If you live in a property with a building manager, let them know that you’ll be away and how long for so they can keep an eye on your property and deter any suspicious-looking visitors. They may also be able to store your mail for you if it’s kept in a public place.
5. Move high-value items out of sight
Any items of value such as laptops, jewellery and cameras should be hidden in a safe place away from windows. Under pillows, in drawers beneath clothes and full laundry baskets are good hiding places, and for anything of particular value consider investing in a small safe for true peace of mind.
6. Clear out the fridge
The last thing you want after a relaxing holiday is to return to a smelly fridge, so go through it carefully before you leave, taking care to check the use-by dates of any particularly pungent items and throw them away if necessary.
7. Empty all rubbish bins
Hot weather and rubbish bins are the perfect breeding ground for bugs and rodents. Empty and bleach all bins before leaving to ensure you don’t return to an unwanted colony of beasties.
8. Put your mail on hold
A growing pile of mail, flyers and free newspapers on the mat is not only a nuisance when you open the door on your return, but equally alerts criminals to an unoccupied property if it can be seen through a window. Ask a kindly neighbour to collect your mail and parcels, otherwise you can use the Royal Mail holding service while you’re away. [http://www.royalmail.com/personal/receiving-mail/keepsafe]
9. Add a timer to visible lights
Closed curtains and a dark property is a clear sign to thieves that the building is empty. To avoid this, keep some curtains partially open (upper floors are ideal) and add a light timer so that light is emitted during the evenings to give the impression that someone is home.
10. Cancel any milk, grocery, or paper deliveries
A growing collection of milk and groceries outside your property is not only messy and wasteful in terms of perishable items, its also another clear sign that no-one is home. Put your regular deliveries on pause while you are away, and thieves will be none the wiser.