Easy Ways To Make Your Home Safe & Secure When You're Away
We have all been there, the dreaded feeling when we leave our home to go on the holiday we have been waiting for all year. Did I turn off the oven? Are the windows all locked? Did I double lock the back door? Have I emptied all the perishables from my fridge?? The list goes on and round in our minds until we finally let it slide and succumb to our holiday relaxation. We decided to ask our skilled home team to make the ultimate going away checklist with this in mind, so if you do one thing before you go make it to check this list!
Empty The Fridge & Bins
Nobody wants to come back to science experiments with their cheese supply so empty out any perishables that will go bad before you return, most supermarkets have donation banks that you can drop them off to so nothing goes to waste, or consider giving items to family, friends and neighbours. Don't forget to put out any trash too!
Unplug/Switch Off Appliances
This is especially true for small kitchen appliances such as microwaves, kettles, etc. Of course we suggest keeping on your fridge/freezer unless you have fully emptied them out and will be away for a long time (and are prepared to wait the 24 hours to use them again once they get switched back on!). We also suggest paying special attention to flammable appliances such as hair dryers/straighteners and even toothbrush chargers. Other white goods such as your washing machine/dryer can usually be switched off via a fuse switch. Lastly, don't forget your TV's, computers and other appliances too!
Heating & Hot Water
If it is the summer we suggest turning these both off. You may also wish to switch off your boiler all together if you are going away for a while for further safety (but again only in the summer as we suggest keeping this on a low setting during the winter). In the winter we suggest turning off your hot water only and programming the heating to come on for an hour or so each day. It may be worthwhile setting it for early morning too as that is when outside temperatures are at their lowest.
Mains Gas & Water
You should also consider turning off your gas supply, at least to the oven/cooker (this is usually a large red switch located near the cooker) for your holiday. You can always ask a gas safe engineer/plumber to do this for you if you are not sure and then take note for the next time. We always suggest switching off your mains water supply for holidays too, Water leaks are the number 1 most common domestic disaster holidaymakers return home to. They can cause considerable damage and expense if left unattended, so remember to turn off your water supply at the mains if you can. This can be done via the stopcock which is usually located in the cupboard under the kitchen sink, or where the service pipe comes into your home. A leak from a water tank or pipe could also damage the electrical wiring and even start a fire, so this is simply a must-do for all trips!
Windows & Doors
Make sure all window are fully locked including any additional snibs/latches. The same goes for all doors, we also suggest locking any internal doors that you can and keeping all doors closed, this not only helps to slow the spread in the event of a fire it also makes the property harder to navigate if it was broken into. Ideally take all the keys with you on your main set or lock them away in a hidden place/safe inside the property.
Last port of call, set your alarm if you have one. It is there for a reason! Equally you will void insurance claims if you fail to use it.
Many properties now have Ring doorbells/cameras or other modern portable CCTV cameras such as Arlo systems that can be accessed via an app on their mobile phone. If you do have these make sure they are fully charged and connected to Wi-Fi before you leave for extra peace of mind. Equally if you have a hardwired CCTV system ensure that it is working correctly before you go.
If you don't have anyone to water your plants whilst you are away you can put small plants in a bowl of water and they will drink for themselves as needed. For bigger plants you can purchase handy gadgets such as this one on Amazon to look after your green friends whilst you are away, they come in all different colours and styles too.
There are many options for your beloved pets now if you do not have any trusted friends or family who can help you out. Depending on your animals personality you might be better off with a house-sitter or boarding in a family setting versus a pet hotel. We have a carefully curated list of dog and cat boarding options that we have used over the years so get in touch with us today and we would be happy to help, please keep in mind these can get fully booked out months in advance! So plan way ahead.
Bills & Payments
It is easy to let this one slip your mind, but making sure your accounts have the correct funds and and bills have been taken care of prior to going away is always a good idea, especially if you don't pay via Direct Debit/Standing Order. So unless you want to come back to a late payment fee take a moment to check which bills will fall due when you are away.
Most modern cars with a fairly healthy battery should last at least 2 weeks without needing to be started up to re-charge the battery. However, if there's any doubt about the condition of the battery we suggest getting someone to start it once a week just to be safe if you can. Of course this limit varies, but the battery will lose a significant amount of charge in that time and you may find yourself jumpstarting your dead car battery back to life when you return from holiday if you don't plan for this. If you have a garage we suggest getting a trickle charge like this one to avoid any issues when you return.
Of course it is logical for both fire safety and energy efficiency to switch off all your lights when you go away, however this is of course one of the first clues that burglars will look for when targeting any home. If you are lucky enough to have a smart home you might already be familiar with the fancy holiday settings you can use that incorporate timers with your lighting system to emulate people being home. However for most homes a great option is to purchase a fake TV stimulator like this one on Amazon or a timer light switch like this one which is also a great and safe option when paired with an LED lamp.
Subscriptions & Services
You might have monthly deliveries of flowers, pet food, or other items or perhaps you have cleaning or gardening services planned that you won't need or be able to give access for. Depending on your holiday dates suspending/pausing these until you return could be a good idea. For longer trips we also recommend pausing your Netflix or any other non utility based subscriptions that you won't be using. It is also a good idea to avoid getting deliveries to your home when you are away unless you have a concierge/porter or neighbour who can take them for you as a pile of post and parcels is another tell tale sign for burglars.
So to summarise, make sure you:
Empty The Fridge & Bins
Unplug/Switch Off Appliances
Set Your Heating & Hot Water
Turn Off Mains Gas & Water
Lock All Windows & Doors
Set Your Alarm Systems
Charge/Test Security Cameras
Plan Your Plant Care
Book You Pet Care
Check Bills & Payments
Prep Car Battery
Turn Off Lights
Prep Burglar Deterrents (Fake Lights, etc.)
Pause Subscriptions & Services
Not that we are biased, but another fantastic option is to enrol the help of a Home & Vacant Property Management provider, such as the services we offer here at Chesham Property London. A good home manager will take care of all of the above for you and more, meaning you can just focus on your packing list and having a good time. To learn more about our home & vacant management services head over to our website or contact the team for a chat today.