It’s that time of the year again; everyone is rushing around and carrying out final tasks so they can go on holiday. Sometimes, we are in so much of a rush that some important steps to prevent potential disaster are neglected.
Here are a few tips to protect your home while you are away:
1. Make your home is secure
It is always a good idea to think about those windows that can open without burglar bars, doors without security gates and windows in passageways. Expanding security gates and burglar bars are relatively cheap and inconvenience, loss and damages can be prevented by making it more difficult for a potential house breaker. Besides adding security, one can usually obtain discounts on householder (domestic contents insurance) premiums.
2. Unplug electrical devices
Avoid short circuit or other electrical fire risks by unplugging appliances, computers, etc. Especially in Gauteng and other lightning areas, one reduces risk of damages to components as well.
3. Switch off certain stop cocks
If you have a small stop cock feeding your washing machine or tap connecting the braided connector to the toilet cistern, it is not a bad idea to switch these off while away.
4. Check taps, baths and basins
Sometimes, a tap can be left dripping due to not being shut properly, perhaps with a basin or bathplug in place. After a day or two, if the flow is much faster than evaporation, your basin could overflow causing extensive damage while you are away. Make sure all taps are closed and that plugs are not in place.
5. Avoid temptation
Cover up large screen TVs, computers, etc. if these are visible through windows or net curtains while you are away. Place these items far away from windows.
6. Check outside, especially exclusive use area
Make sure that you are not providing any break-in tools such as ladders lying outside, wheelie bins as easy step-up, hammers and loose tools lying in the garden. Loose items in a garden often provide tempting opportunities for criminals. Pack garden furniture etc away. Secure copper or brass fittings as much as possible. Eliminate outside brass taps being a temptation by covering those up where possible; these are often stolen with thieves leaving the exposed pipe to flood the area.
7. Make sure stoves are switched off
Check the stove dials are on zero and preferably switch off the power at the wall. Make sure that there are no pots on the hotplates as an extra measure of safety.
8. Top up electricity
We often hear of prepaid electricity running out while the owners are on holiday. The results can be expensive. Aside from the losses such as spoiled frozen foods but defrosting refrigerators can cause extensive water damage. Most alarms have limited battery life; one definitely do not want an ineffective alarm while on holiday.
9. Clear drains and check outlets on balconies
Before going on holiday, make sure that drains are clear, especially water exits. Balconies that flood and cause flooding to inside of apartments are usually caused not by a storm but the blocked drain due to a lack of cleaning and upkeep.
10. Social Media
Neighbourhood watches and community schemes often have social network pages such as Social Estate, Facebook or a WhatsApp Group. We often see people posting messages such as “John and Marie from number 5 will be away oversees for the next three weeks, please keep an eye”. This is not a good idea, do not advertise your absence.
11. Locking Up
Always double-check that all entry points are properly secured. Often forgotten, is the garage side door where you wheel in your bin, for example. It is a good idea to lock up the night before the last minute rush. We recommend locking inter-leading doors as well and to never leave keys in the door. Make use of Boston locks with rooms with easier access (small locks that fit into main key hole).
12. Lights and curtains
Try to have someone pop in occasionally when you are away for extended periods and change certain lights and curtain positions in and around the house. A simple yet effective idea is to plug in a few lamps with timers to make your place look like someone is living in it. Also, try to have lights activated by sensors installed in dark areas.
13. Have your letterbox cleared
A clear giveaway to an opportunistic criminal is a full letterbox. We have heard of cases where leaflet distributors themselves were the burglars.
Ask a family member, friend or neighbour to park in your driveway. The regular movements of a vehicle may create the illusion that the residents are still home.
15. Less obvious departure
If possible, try to be discreet when packing your car outside your home as it could be a clear signal to passersby that you are going on holiday.
16. Double check everything before leaving.
Enjoy your holiday and drive safely!
Festive greeting from the Addsure team.
Author : Mike Addison
Contact Addsure – The Leaders in Sectional Title Insurance – to get fit and proper advice from advisors who understand sectional title. Contact us in Johannesburg on (011) 704-3858; in Durban on (031) 459-1795 and in Cape Town on (021) 551-5069