Houses can be particularly vulnerable during the darker months, and you may have worries if you're leaving your home over winter. For extra peace of mind on your next winter holiday take a look at our tips for keeping a safe and secure home.
How to keep your home safe and secure when you go on a winter holiday.
Many of us can recall having holidays spoiled by our own worries about security at home. Whether it's fear of being broken into, burst pipes or whether someone left the gas on, most of these concerns can be easily allayed by recruiting a willing neighbour or friend to keep an eye out. But when that isnt possible, there are plenty of ways to stop any anxiety while we're away.
Don't advertise your absence
A great way to deter intruders is to simply make it appear as if you haven't been away at all. For example, don't forget to cancel any regular deliveries, particularly those that are left in prominent outdoor places: nothing screams 'we've gone away for a fortnight' more loudly than a fort of Amazon delivery boxes, clumsily hidden behind a wheelie bin.
Wilting flowers are also a give-away, so if you do have any outdoor pot plants, you might want to consider either bringing them indoors or asking a neighbour to water them regularly. Failing that, cacti don't require frequent watering, and look threatening enough to discourage any would-be thieves.
And while it may go against your intuition, the police advise travellers to leave curtains open if possible, as closed curtains during the day may alert people to the fact that the property is empty. Reverse psychology and all that.
Baby you can drive my car
If you're travelling without your car, you may want to consider what signals leaving it on the driveway might give out. Does it indicate that someone's home, or does leaving it too long give the impression that nobody's home. Such conundrums!
If you share this particular concern, you may want to keep your car away from the home for example in an airport car park; alternatively you could ask someone to move it regularly to fool ne'er-do-wells into thinking it's in use.
Intruders tend to be put off by light, so if you can ensure your property is well lit in your absence, it may be less appealing to would-be burglars. If you don't have anyone you trust to call in regularly to switch lights on and off, it's fairly easy to install timer switches and programme them to do the same job. No complicated wiring is required: you simply need to purchase a plug-in device that takes over the operation of your lamps. They're available online from just £1.99. Bargain!
Outdoor lighting is considered by many to be a particularly strong deterrent, so if you've been thinking of having a light installed in your front porch or garden, now could be the time to do it. These can usually be left on for long periods of time.
Protect your property
When leaving your home over winter, set your heating to come on for at least an hour a day while you're away. If severe weather is forecast, the Met Office recommends you leave the heating on day and night. No one wants to come home to a mouldy, chilly house.
Before you go, it's worth checking your loft insulation is fitted correctly around pipes in the loft to keep your house in tip tip shape while you're on your winter holiday. If you've arranged for someone to check on the house, make sure they know where the stop tap is in case the water supply needs to be turned off.
And check your house and garden for unsecured garden furniture, decorations, ladders and so on in case of strong winds taking off while you're away. At the very least, your neighbours won't appreciate an attack from a runaway parasol.
Lock it up
You're unlikely to forget to double-lock the front door when going away for an extended period, but be sure to pay the same attention to your windows, too. Even upper-floor flats can be accessed through windows, so make sure they have suitable locks in good working order. In case the worst does happen, it's a good idea to check that you have the right type of locks specified by your home insurance provider before you go away. We think peace of mind on your winter holiday is worth the extra vigilance.
For the very security conscious, some of the old tricks are still the best: you might want to put up a sign claiming you have a guard dog (or actually get one!), leave a noise source such as a radio playing (but not so loud it annoys those potentially helpful neighbours), or if you don't have time to install a real one, put up a realistic-looking decoy burglar alarm box.
Now relax knowing your home will be just as you left it when you return.
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