By Cath Jenkin

The holidays are here! Well, almost. While you’re planning your holiday itinerary and gift shopping, don’t forget to secure your home while you’re away

Here’s how to improve your home security during the holiday season:

Security check-up

Conducting regular security check-ups in and around your home should form part of your regular routine. It’s recommended that you take a good look at your home’s security measures at least once a year, or every six months, if possible. As part of preparing for your festive season, conducting a security check-up is essential, as suburban crime is noted to often increase during the holiday season.

We recommend:

Conducting an alarm test: Contact your security company and ask them to participate in, or arrange, a test of your alarm and battery backups, approximately two weeks before you go away on holiday. That way, you’ll have enough time to check on things, and get any repairs done before you leave.

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Carrying out a full test: If your home uses security beams, passive sensors, or any sort of motion detection technologies, check to see that every single device is working correctly. Similarly, if your home is equipped with CCTV, make sure it’s working optimally. You can also ask your security company to link your mobile phone to your CCTV security system, so you can check in on what’s happening at home, while you’re away.

Checking like a criminal: From outside your front gate and garden, check your home security like a criminal. Being able to view your home in this manner will help you to spot any gaps in your home security measures, and identify any vulnerable areas.

Assessing everything: Go through your home and conduct a full assessment of your windows, doors, locks, and gates. Make sure each of them can be correctly secured, and call in your local handyman to carry out any repairs before you leave for your holiday.

Lighting it up: In the evening, conduct a quick assessment of your home’s outdoor lighting. Replace any dead lightbulbs, and look at new ways to light up the exterior of your home, thereby eliminating any potential hiding spots for criminals.

Installing a panic button application: Your home security system may already be linked to a panic button application that you can install on your mobile phone. If not, find a mobile application that you can use as a panic button, linking you to emergency services and/or important contacts. If you’re going to be hiring a house or pet sitter for the duration of your holiday, link them to your panic button service too.

Security upgrades

While the festive season shopping may take priority right now, there’s no reason why you should skip on considering some home security upgrades before you go away. Once you’ve created your holiday budget, set aside some funds to upgrade your home security system when you can.

No home security system is perfect, and the process of preventing a break-in begins by creating significant deterrents that make it difficult for a potential criminal to view your home as an opportunity. There is always room for improvement and upgrades in the world of home security.

Book your house and pet sitter

Rather than leaving your home empty for the holidays, and booking your pets into kennels, consider booking a house and pet sitter who will stay in your home during the holiday season. This way, your home won’t stand empty over the holidays, and your pets won’t have to spend any time away from their home too.

When booking a house and pet sitter, we suggest:

Hiring a house sitter through a reputable agency: By using a reputable agency to manage your house sitter bookings, you can be assured that the person looking after your home will have been thoroughly background checked, and is up to the task of ensuring your home stays secure while you’re away.

Creating a task list: Work with your house and pet sitter to create a list of must-do tasks for their time in your home. This could include walking the dogs, checking the swimming pool water’s pH level, or other duties. We deeply recommend including the item “empty the mailbox once every two days” on your house sitter’s to do list. An overflowing mailbox is a giveaway sign that nobody’s home.

Checking in: Keep communication channels between you and your house sitter open at all times. Set a special ringtone or message notification on your mobile phone so that you know immediately if they need your attention.

Giving them back-up: If any incidents take place while your house and pet sitter is staying in your home, they will need help, quickly. Make sure you connect them with your neighbours, security company, and any other important contacts, so that they can act on any issues immediately.

Golden rules for WhatsApp community groups

Tell your story a little later

Checking in to your holiday accommodation is important, but checking in on social media platforms is not recommended. Rather than letting everyone online know that you’re away from home during the holidays, keep it quiet online until you’re home again. Only let the people who absolutely must know that you’re away.

If your suburb runs a neighbourhood watch or WhatsApp group, let the coordinator know that you’re away, and that you’ll have someone staying in your home during that time. Once you’ve returned from your holiday, feel free to share those sunny pictures from your vacation online, and tell people about your holiday. It’s better to be safe, and rather not advertise that you’re away during the holidays.

This article was first published on www.privateproperty.co.za

Author: Private Property