A guide to home security while on holiday

Before going on holiday most people consider the things that they'll need whilst they're away – passports, luggage, travel insurance – but it's all too easy to forget the things that need to be taken care of back at home during that time.

If you're going to be leaving your home unoccupied for more than just a few days it's important to consider some of the safety and security factors below.

After all, an owner-free home still filled with valuable electrical goods such as televisions, laptops and state-of-the-art coffee machines are both a potential fire hazard and a burglar's dream. And then of course there's the possibility of gas or water leaks and the resulting damage. So, here's how to best prepare your home for when you’re gone…

Keep burglars at bay

If you have a burglar alarm be sure to turn it on as soon as you leave, but do be aware that there are other factors in keeping your house secure whilst on holiday. Whether you have an alarm or not, reducing, or entirely removing, obvious signs that no one is home is imperative.

Cancel milk and paper deliveries so they don't create an evident backlog and make it apparent that you are away. Plus no one wants to arrive home from holiday to find two-week old milk sitting on their doorstep, especially in summertime.

You can get hold of light timers that fit over standard plug sockets very easily at hardware stores, so invest in some of those for your living room and a few bedrooms to give the appearance of someone being home in the evenings.

In wintertime, a house that has been dark for days on end is a clear target for thieves. Coinciding a radio alarm to come on as the lights do for an added look of life in the house is also a good idea.

Involve the neighbours

If you're friendly with your neighbours ask them to drop round to the house either every day or every few days to give the impression of someone being home.

Ask them to clear up piles of post or parcels which may well be visible from outside, suggest they draw the curtains in the evening and then back again the follow day, and, if they're very amenable, ask if they will keep an eye on your flower pots, lawns and bushes – overgrown grass or plants in the front garden is another sign that a property is currently uninhabited.

If you're taking your car away with you, see if a neighbour is happy to park theirs on your drive every so often so it appears as though someone is coming and going whilst you're away too.

Lock up your valuables

It goes without saying to double-check that you've locked doors and windows before leaving the house, but make sure that nothing potentially appealing to thieves is left on display as well.

Even when you're not on going away, locking up valuables and keeping sought-after items out of sight is a great idea, but if you're leaving them around for days on end, put phones, tablets, laptops and other coveted technology in a safe, in drawers or in boxes out of view.

As for jewellery, heirlooms and other precious pieces, lock them away in a chest, bureau or a safe if you have one.

Any spare door or car keys you don't need whilst you're on your travels put in drawers, and definitely do not leave them in reach of intruders. Empty side tables in the hallway and key racks near the front or back door.

Consider your outside space too

It's not just the contents of your home that you need to think about before heading away. Make sure that any items of value normally kept outside, like garden furniture, bikes and children's toys, are locked away in a shed, garage or brought inside the house.

Though you might not think garden furniture is at risk of being taken, due to its light weight and durability, it's very easily carried or thrown over an outside fence.

Expensive plants, pots, and barbecues are also worth locking away while you're gone too.

Think about fire and escape of water prevention

Aside from burglary, reducing the risk of fire and leakages while you're on holiday is important too.

Turn heating appliances (portable heaters, electric fires, electric blankets) and kitchen appliances (toasters, kettles, coffee makers) off at the switch and unplug them from the wall to be on the safe side.

With items most often kept on standby (televisions, radios, satellite boxes), be sure to turn them off at the wall unless you're using them as an additional method of security (see above).

Turn off both your gas and water supply at the mains too to avoid any such leaks, and of course be sure to check no taps are left running when you leave the house.

If it seems there’s an overwhelming amount of things to consider before you leave for your holiday, make a holiday checklist and tick things off as you go. The security of your home is something that should never be forgotten.

Find out more about our home insurance.

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