How to keep your home safe over Christmas

With lots of people heading away to see family and friends over the Christmas period, and houses left unoccupied and full of presents, the festive season is a time to be extra careful about home safety. Burglaries rise by 53% over Christmas, and house fires are a risk due to all the twinkling lights decorating our homes. Here are some tips to follow to keep your home safe and secure this Christmas.

1. Hide packaging for presents

Take present packaging to the tip rather than leaving it somewhere obvious outside your home. If you’ve left a big cardboard box from a state-of-the-art TV out on the street to await the rubbish collection, for example, you’re advertising to thieves that there’s a brand new television in your home.

2. Close the curtains

If you leave your curtains open after dark and there are lots of presents lying under the tree, it’s easy for a thief to survey what’s on offer.

3. Hide the spare key

No matter how well-concealed you think your spare key is, the chances are a determined thief could find it. If you have one hidden under a plant pot in your garden, take it indoors for safekeeping.

4. Don’t overshare on social media

If you’re away for Christmas, be wary about how much you post on public social media pages. Unless you have tight privacy settings on Facebook, and private accounts on Twitter or Instagram, anyone can see what you post. If you’re off on holiday and posting photos of your travels, thieves could work out that you’re not at home and strike when you’re away. Be similarly careful about sharing photos of all your new presents.

5. Make it look as though someone’s at home

If you’re planning to go away over Christmas, try to make your home look as though you’re still there. Set time switches to make the lights come on after dark, and consider asking neighbours to park a car on your drive. Even if you’re just out for the evening, leave a light or two on downstairs.

6. Be careful with lights and candles

Burglars aren’t the only threat to keeping your home safe over the Christmas period: the risk of fire goes up when your home is full of Christmas lights and candles. When you get your Christmas decorations out each year, check the lights for any frayed ends or cracks that could indicate that they’re not safe. Never leave candles burning unattended.

7. Christmas tree safety

If you’re planning to buy a real Christmas tree, keep it away from heat sources such as gas fires, portable heaters and candles, and keep it well watered so that it doesn’t dry out. Buy as fresh a tree as possible – they’re less likely to catch fire.

8. Party prep

If you’re preparing for the office Christmas party or a night out on the town, make sure you turn off hair straighteners or curling tongs before you leave. Similarly, don’t leave devices charging on soft surfaces like your bed, in case they overheat, and don’t be tempted to leave anything cooking in the oven while you’re out – even the Christmas turkey!