Essential checks for the holidays

November 2020

It’s almost holiday time, and whether you’re staying at home or venturing off somewhere exotic, there are things you need to do to ensure you and your family enjoy a safe, secure festive season. 

Firstly, ensure that your insurance policy is up to date and includes any home improvements and expensive new household purchases.

Make your home more secure by: 

Checking your home alarm system is working properly – warn your security company that you’ll be running a test; 

Keeping your garden neat and tidy: nothing says ‘we’re away’ more than an overgrown garden, and even if you are at home, overhanging branches can trigger alarms unnecessarily in windy weather as well as providing cover for intruders;

Ensuring all outside lights are working, and if possible, link them to a timer;

Installing security sensor beams around the property to give an early warning of any movement. The height of the beams can be altered so that pets don’t set them off;

Keeping tools and desirable items like expensive children’s toys, sporting equipment and gas braais out of sight from the roadside or even better, locked away;

Making your safe even safer: install it out of sight (in a cupboard or under the floorboards) in an unexpected place (the master bedroom is the most common location and where criminals will go first), and bolt it in place;

Using blinds and curtains to ensure that people cannot peep into your home.

If you are going away:

It goes without saying that you will have booked a trusted housesitter if you have pets, or arranged suitable accommodation for them elsewhere. You’ve put lights with timers in the garden and inside the house. You’ve turned off the geyser, unplugged all appliances, taken out any rubbish, and emptied the fridge and freezer in case there is a power outage. Now, what else?

Leave contact numbers for more than one member of the family (and maybe also for a trusted friend who will be staying in the area) with a neighbour and ensure your security company and neighbourhood watch have your current contact information. Also ask your neighbour or friend to put a full bin bag at your gate on refuse collection days so it looks like someone is at home. 

Take care of your vehicle before you hit the road – get it serviced if there is anything you are worried about or if a service is due. Check tyres for tread and pressure, and inspect the water and oil levels. Ensure that the spare tyre, jack and toolkit are in good condition and that the windscreen wipers work properly for perfect vision even in bad weather.

Before you leave, pack wet wipes and a bag for any rubbish, and check on the anticipated weather conditions both en route and when you arrive (so you know what to pack).

Plan your route for rest and fuel stops – stopping at least every two hours is recommended for optimal driving ability.

Have a happy holiday season!