In these days of social media many of us tell everyone where we are most of the time. That’s the way it’s become. But with stories coming out (ironically, initially as rumours on social media) about insurance companies refusing to pay out on claims because they say someone has advertised that their home has been empty for a while it really does pay to take a sensible approach to home security.
The old fashioned phrase “safe as houses” might not always ring true any more, but there are definitely steps that you can take to make your home as safe as possible.
Firstly – don’t overly advertise when you are going away on holiday. Or, if you are determined to broadcast it on Facebook, make sure you have you settings tied down so that you only share it with friends, rather than the public as a whole. Also – check your details that are online already. I’m often surprised at how many people I know that have their full home address somewhere on their Facebook profile. Do you really need all your friends to know your full home address?
On platforms where you are completely open to the public – like Instagram or Twitter it is possible to turn off automatic location tagging in photos or posts and is worth doing. Not only to help protect your home when you’re away, but also your own privacy. If you have kids, do you want everyone to know which local playground you regularly take them to? Even if you’re a travel blogger, remember that you don’t need to share everything in real time. Take photos, but consider sharing them when you return, rather than whilst on your trip.
When it comes to your home itself – physical security is key. Make sure you invest in good locks for your doors. Not just the front door, but also any back door that may actually be more hidden and therefore a bigger attraction for potential burglars. Patio doors can also be a weakness, so if you have any it’s worth taking advice on how to lock them best.
It goes without saying that all windows should be locked when you’re away, but also get into a habit of locking them every time you close them, and closing all downstairs ones every time you go out. Also, if you have any upstairs windows that are over a flat roof or a ground floor extension use the same rule of thumb that you would for ground floor windows.
Invest in a good burglar alarm. Not only does it deter burglars from targeting your property over a home without one, but with some insurance companies it will also lower your premiums. As well as financial savings it can also give you peace of mind, which is priceless.
Burglars are looking for houses that appear to be empty. Make yours not look that way as much as possible. Leave a car in the drive if you can – exactly where you would normally park it if you were at home. If you’re taking your car away with you then why not ask the neighbours if they’d like to park their car (especially if they have a second one) in your drive for some of your trip?
Technology in your home can also help. Gone are the days of having timer switches that are only workable if you have a degree in engineering and the patience to figure out how to do all those little peg like bits on a clock face around the plug. Nowadays there are a variety of digital programmable switches available on the market. Several of them work over wi-fi and allow you to programme them to either follow a daily pattern or instead they can even be set to just come on randomly. Some you can control from afar as and when you wish from a mobile phone app. it’s quite possible to be sat on a beach somewhere and switch your bedroom light on. How mad does that sound?
Another tell-tale sign that a home is empty is post piling up. Someone can easily take a look through your letterbox and see a week’s worth of mail sitting there on the doormat. One option might be to get a neighbour to pop in and move it for you, but another option is actually provided by Royal Mail. They offer a service where they can hold your mail for the duration of your holiday and then deliver it to you when you return. Not only a security measure, but also far nicer than opening the front door on your return from the airport and your first job being scooping up a pile of bills from the doormat!
Most of all though – just be sensible about things. Take precautions, but don’t let any fears or worries ruin your holidays. Realistically, chances are that you’ll find your home exactly how you left it when you returned and that your biggest post-holiday worry will be the dirty laundry that you returned with.