‘Tis the holiday season, when most of us desert our homes and daily lives for beaches, bush camps and family reunions. It’s much easier to relax when you know that your home is safe and sound. Here are a few things to do to practice home safety while you’re away.

Human Activity

Nothing says nobody home like a property where the cars don’t move, the junk mail piles up and the curtains never open. The best thing for your home safety is someone in your home. Organise a house sitter keep your house looking lived in and make it less of a target. Get your front garden tended to especially in the growing season,nothing makes a house look deserted like knee high grass and an over grown driveway.

Don’t like the idea of someone else living in your home? get a trusted friend or neighbour to come in once or twice a day to feed and cuddle your pets, water the plants, bring in the mail, open the curtains and check for problems. If you’re going to be away for an extended period get someone to drive your car occasionally. It’ll look  more natural and keep you from coming home to a dead battery.

Sensible Home Safety

 The usual home safety tips also apply. Before you leave make sure that all of your doors,windows, gates and other access points are properly locked and secured. Make sure your alarm is working correctly and test it with your monitoring service.Inform them that you will be away and for how long. Many of them increase patrols in your area if they know you will be away. Also inform them if you have a house-sitter or designated visitor.

Give a trusted and willing neighbour a spare set of keys and your alarm disarm code, especially if your monitoring service cannot reset the system remotely. You don’t want to be that house in the neighbourhood who’s alarm goes off so long an so often that no one pays it any attention any more. Remember that story about the boy who cried wolf?

Power Safety

Since we, once again, find ourselves victims of load shedding, saving electricity and the electrical health of our appliances and electronics is a real concern. Turn off and physically unplug everything but your fridge, freezer and security lighting. Turn off your geyser at the distribution board (it should be clearly labelled). Not only will this help you save electricity, lower your power bill and prevent load shedding, it will protect your appliances from power surges resulting from outages and induction from close lightning strikes.

If you live in an area prone to big electrical storms, like the highveld, unplug your internet and phone lines as well. Nearby lightning (not even a direct hit) can cause a power surge on these lines that computers and other internet connected devices like smart TVs, cannot handle.

Keep it to yourself

In the age of social media, it has become common to share all that we do with all and sundry in real time. As wonderful as it may be to share exciting holiday memories as they happen and internet access allows it’s not a good idea to advertise to the world that your home is empty. Wait until you get home to spam Facebook and Instagram with holiday snaps, that way you can relive the moments as you share them.Likewise to advertise to your neighbourhood that you will be away. Let your security company and those people you’ve arranged to look after your house know and leave the rest in the dark.

One last suggestion

Clean up before you go. It’s easy to leave dirty dishes in the sink, uneaten leftovers in the fridge and half-drunk beverages on random surfaces in the frenzy of packing and locking up. It’s not pleasant to come home from a long journey and find that your unwashed dishes and half-full containers started their own ecosystems in your absence and are now involved in a microbial civil war with the rubbish bin for control of your home. Do the dishes, clear out the fridge and take out the rubbish, you’ll thank yourself when you get home.

Nothing is foolproof but a little planning and extra work before-hand will help make your vacation a lot more relaxed and make coming home a lot more pleasant.

If you’re staying home this festive season have a look at our DIY projects for something to do on your home vacation.