School’s out and summer is here! For many people, that means packing up and jetting off for a well-deserved holiday. But, hold your horses—summer may be the season for sun, sea and sand, but it’s also prime time for break-ins, with one burglary happening every minute in the UK. Near or far, and however long you’re away, it’s always worth taking a few simple steps to bolster your home security. So, whether you’re heading abroad for a few weeks, or maybe relaxing with a mini-break closer to home, let our home security guide help you prepare so you can enjoy a carefree holiday. Now, where’s that passport?
1. Make your home look lived-in
When it comes to protecting your home, looks can—and should—be deceiving.
If it seems like no one’s home, you might find yourself a sitting target for a burglar, so it’s a good idea to channel the ‘lived-in’ vibe while you’re away.
Set timer switches so that lights and TVs flick on and off during the day and evening, and don’t forget to cancel milk and newspaper deliveries, too. If a neighbour or friend isn’t available to collect it for you, you can also set up a post-holding service until you come back.
Lastly, avoid shutting all the curtains before you go—a clear signal that you’re out and not due back soon!
2. Tell a trusted person
In between the rushing around for last-minute travel essentials, don’t forget to let (a carefully selected few) people know your movements. Whether a friend, a neighbour, or a family member, let someone you trust know you’re going away, and ask if they wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on your home.
Make sure they have your contact details and will be able to get in touch with you while you’re away. It’s also worth asking if they wouldn’t mind parking on your drive or moving your car, and suggest they use your bins for their rubbish, too.
3. Think before you tweet
It’s understandable you can’t wait to tell everyone about the exciting trip you’ve got planned, but advertising your absence to the outside world isn’t always a good idea..
Resist the temptation to post about your holiday (and therefore your empty home) on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook—after all, do you really know who might be reading your updates?
On that note, mark your luggage tag with your name and mobile number only—it’s not necessary to write your address, and beady-eyed burglars en route to your destination will know you’re not at home. And, if you keep a calendar marked with the dates you’re away, remember to move it from any windows—away from prying passers-by.
4. Hide your valuables
Simple, but easily forgotten! Be sure to move all your valuables—including computers, TVs, cameras, and tablets—out of sight and away from windows, and remember to put all keys (cars, doors, and windows) out of plain view.
Consider using a safe for any really precious items, or if you want to be sure you keep smaller possessions such as jewellery safe, think about giving them to a friend to look after for the duration on your holiday.
Don’t forget to lock your garden tools away in a shed, too. It’s easy to overlook, but if left lying around they can serve as a quick means of breaking in, and as they’re often expensive, are also an easy target for burglars if not secured.
5. Ensure you’re ensured
Remember, your home insurance is your last line of defence, so be sure to digest the fine print before jetting off: for example, if you’re lucky enough to be holidaying for more than 30 days, many policies won’t cover any incidents that happen while the house is empty beyond this time.
For long periods away, it may also be wise to drain your boiler or turn off the stop cock, just in case a pipe decides to spring a leak in your absence.
If in doubt, always contact your insurer—they’ll be able to provide you with relevant advice before you depart, and confirm you’ll be properly covered for the duration of your trip.
6. Secure the fort
Check, double and triple check you’ve locked up properly before you set off, as any claim on your house insurance could be invalidated if you’ve not taken proper care to secure your home.
Remember, your home insurance is your last line of defence, so ensure you’ve digested the fine print before jetting off: for example, if you’re lucky enough to be holidaying for more than 30 days, many policies won’t cover any incidents that happen while the house is empty beyond this time.
Make sure all doors and windows are shut and fully locked before you leave, not forgetting any sheds, garages, or gates, and ensure you remove all keys from locks and keep them somewhere safe. Be sure to hide any garden ladders away from view, and, before you rush out the door, remember to set your house alarm to deter any possible intruders.