Home security – don’t take chances this summer

The last thing you want to come home to after 2 weeks in the sun is a break-in, and then having to deal with the ensuing insurance claim. Here are our tips for home security to prevent this happening while you are away:

1. Tell a member of your family, local friend or trusted neighbour that you plan to go away. Depending on how good a friend they are, you could ask them to check the house and make it look occupied for you. Leave your contact address and/or telephone number with them so they can reach you in an emergency. You could even ask them to leave their car on your driveway to give the appearance of someone being at home. Don’t forget to bring them back a nice thank you gift!

2. Install good quality locks on doors and windows and use them when you are away. Locks that come under the British Standard, BS362 (look for the kite symbol) or that are classed as a five-lever mortice deadlock are recommended, as are multi-point locking systems. Just make sure that you keep all keys out of sight. Your A-Plan branch can advise you on home security.

3. A burglar alarm can give you added peace of mind. However, they can sometime go off when there’s nothing wrong (sometimes a power cut may trigger them) and you can quickly upset your neighbours if you’re not there to switch it off. You may want to leave a key and the code for the alarm to someone that you trust who can deal with such an emergency for you and/or let your home security company know that you are away. Depending on your appetite for technology, your holiday home security can be integrated with a smart home system, allowing you remote surveillance of security cameras over the internet and/or central locking of all perimeter doors and windows.

4. Motion-activated external security lights will deter potential burglars and security timers on internal lights are also a good idea. This creates the illusion that someone is at home. Set some lights on time switches so that they come on in the evening, first downstairs and then upstairs. You could also ask your trusted neighbour to come in and draw curtains from time to time.

5. Be careful what’s on show. Look through your windows from the outside and assess what is on view. Don’t leave valuables on show – lock them away in a safe or at least hide them from view when you’re not there. Lock tools and ladders away, as a potential intruder could use these to gain access to your property.

6. Don’t leave any obvious clues that nobody is home. Cancel any regular deliveries such as newspapers or milk, ask someone to pick up your post from the doormat and put your refuse out for collection on the normal day. The Royal Mail also offers a Keepsafe service which will reserve your post at the sorting office for up to 2 months while you are away.

7. Avoid the social media trap! It is probably best to post any photos or updates about your wonderful holiday until you are safely home. It is never clear how secure social media sites are, nor who can see your posts, so it is better to be safe than sorry. You also don’t want to have any insurance claim rejected as a result.

8. Remember to take precautions to stop any possible leaks and water damage while you are away and turn off all non-vital appliances at the socket. Let your trusted neighbour know where to find the fuse box and the main stopcock, just in case.

9. Check your home insurance and make sure your cover is up–to-date, especially for your contents. Make sure there aren’t any exclusions on your policy for leaving your home unoccupied and/or if you need to notify your insurer about your absence. Get in touch with your branch if you have any questions.

10. Lastly, don’t forget travel insurance for your trip!