With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are taking time off to go on a trip, either to visit family members who live far away or to soak up the sun at one of South Africa’s most famous beaches and holiday destinations.
We often live for these sunny holidays, but there is a niggling worry in the back of our minds almost all the time – is my home safe? Here, we give some simple but highly effective tips for home safety during the holidays:
- Test your system before leaving
Rather than testing your alarm or security system on the day before you leave, test it all at least a week in advance, giving yourself ample time to fix any problems that may leave you in trouble should they arise while you are away. Once you have tested the system, you will be able to alert your security company to the problems that you cannot rectify on your own.
- Perimeter check
Again, this should be done well in advance, in order to give yourself time to rectify the issues. Take a walk around the entire perimeter of your property, and check all fences, barriers and security cameras in order to ascertain whether any are broken or malfunctioning.
- Trim the foliage
If you have an electric fence installed, it is vital to cut back any foliage or tree branches that may be overhanging onto or over it. This could result in a false alarm to your security company, and an annoying phone call o you while you are relaxing on holiday. Trimming bushes and branches will also lessen the amount of hiding space for intruders.
- Collect your post
Before you leave – if your vacation will extend for over a week – ask your neighbours to collect all post from your post box or that may have been thrown onto the front steps, as this is a clear sign to criminals that nobody is at home.
- Neighbourly help
Before you leave, ask your neighbour to regularly check up on your property, especially if they notice suspicious behavior or individuals in or around your property. You could also offer your driveway to his holiday visitors, as regular activity can imply that someone is at home, which will deter criminals.
- Let there be light
Many studies have shown that criminals do not choose to break into properties that are well lit, so ensure that you have ample exterior lighting that lights up all the difficult-to-see areas of your property. You could also set up a timer for interior lights, further creating the illusion that someone is at home.
- Lock up
This is one of the most vital steps – ensuring that every window and door of your house is solidly locked before you leave. Make sure to double check windows in children’s bedrooms, in bathrooms and especially windows that are hard to reach – these are often overlooked by homeowners, but not by criminals!
- Repair and replace
To further ensure the safety of your property, repair and replace any broken windows, window latches, doors, locks, burglar bars, security gates and so on throughout your home. Make sure that no screws are loose, no bars are rusted and that locks are well oiled, enabling you to easily close them before leaving, and open them upon return.
- Secure all outbuildings
Outbuildings should be considered as an extension of your home, and as such should be secured in the same way. Make sure that every window and door is locked, ensure rusty locks are replaced and broken windows repaired – you may not consider them for the rest of the year, but they are often the first point of attack on empty houses by criminals.
- Boost your barriers
Conduct a thorough security check your property before leaving, including updating and upgrading security cameras and home-alarm systems. If you are able to, update your CCTV system to one which allows for remote viewing, so you are able to have continuous, visual access to your home while you are away. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but you will also be able to take action as soon as you see any suspicious activity on your property
Following these steps will allow you to have a happy, relaxed and well-deserved rest, while your house is safe and sound!