Is Your Home Safe and Secure While You Are Away?

  • If you are planning a holiday, it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement. Practical matters can sometimes be pushed to the back of your mind and it is easy to forget the little things. But in the midst of all the planning and excitement, it is important to ask yourself: Is your home safe and secure while you are away?

  • It would be terrible to return from your lovely holiday only to find that something has gone wrong and there has been a burglary or an accident at your home. Money Pug wants to make sure that you always have an excellent holiday experience – from the first stages of planning right through to your happy return home. To help you make sure that everything goes well at home while you are away, here is a list of questions to ask yourself before you go away on your next adventure:

Have You Given the Game Away About Your Travel Plans?

  •  If you are excited about your upcoming holiday, you may be tempted to broadcast your plans and share them with friends on social media. But remember – you never know who is watching when you share information about your plans online. It is not a good idea to broadcast the fact that your home is going to be unoccupied at a given time, as thieves could use this information to their advantage. No matter how tempting it may be, make sure that you do not give the game away and tell the world about your travel plans online. If you have children, make sure they are also aware of the dangers of sharing too much information on social media.

Is Someone Watching or Staying in the Property For You?

  • If you are planning on being away from home for a week or two, or even longer, the best thing would be to have someone house-sit for you while you are away. It could be worthwhile asking a friend or relative to stay in your home while you are away. You might be able to sweeten the deal by leaving food for them in the fridge, and giving them unfettered access to your television and/or Internet accounts.
  • Failing that, could you have someone stop by from time to time to check on things? A daily visit from a family member, friend or neighbour could help to make it look as though there is still activity at the property and someone is home. If you are friendly with your neighbours, simply mentioning to them that you will be away and asking them to keep an eye on your property could help, as they could report any suspicious activity while you are away.
  • If you do not have anyone who can help you in this way, you could also consider hiring a house-sitter to look after things while you are away. This could be a good idea if you are travelling for a more extended period.

Are Pets & Plants Taken Care Of?

If you have pets, they will, of course, have to be taken care of. Consider whether you can get someone in to look after them at home. This will be preferable in most cases, as pets will be happiest in their home environment. However, in certain circumstances, you may have to consider a cattery or kennels. Make sure you look into options for pet care in advance, so you are not scrabbling around trying to work something out at the last minute.

You may also have houseplants that need to be watered while you are away. Make sure you make arrangements, so you don’t come home to a lot of dead foliage. If you have a garden, especially if you grow your own food, you will also have to consider what will happen to all your flowers, fruits and vegetables while you are away.

Before You Go:

In An Established Garden:

  • Mature plants will tend to be more resilient and can usually cope with a week or two without water if it does not rain while you are away. It is, however, still a good idea to do what you can to help plants hang on to what water there is and to make sure that you do not come back to an over-grown jungle or a garden that is past its best.

  1. Mulch around vegetables and amongst flowers and shrubs in beds and borders with good organic mulches to fertilise and hold moisture in the soil.
  2. Cut back unwieldy shrubs and stake tall, fragile plants in case of wind.
  3. Put up shade netting in greenhouse and/or over plants that will dry out in too much sun.
  4. Remove all open flowers from healthy bedding plants to get more blooms on your return.
  5. Deadhead all the flowers in your beds and borders.
  6. Harvest all possible produce from the vegetable patch that will go to waste, preserve or store and give excess to friends and neighbours.
  7. Mow your lawn and strim edges.
  8. Weed as thoroughly as possible.
  9. If dry weather is expected, consider installing irrigation such a clay pot irrigation or similar.

In A Small-Scale/Container Garden:

  • Containers will dry out far more quickly than the soil in garden beds and borders, so it is even more important to take steps to reduce moisture loss while you are away.

  1. Soak each container well, ideally by placing each one in a larger container of water and allowing it to soak up water from the base.
  2. Move all the containers into an area of shade if possible.
  3. Clump containers together to increase humidity.
  4. Cover delicate plants with shade netting if possible.
  5. If possible, place hanging baskets in a depression in the soil of a bed or border.
  6. Set up a temporary automatic watering system if you do not have one already. Run strips of absorbent fabric or capillary matting from a water butt into your containers.
  7. Alternatively, place bottles upside down in the soil in your containers, filled with water. Water will be drawn out when needed.

Whatever kind of garden you have, if you are lucky enough to have someone reliable to come and check on your garden now and then while you are away, water and maybe even do a few jobs then of course this will be preferable to leaving everything to its own devices. But not all of us are lucky enough to have someone to help us out in this way. Follow the above advice and while you may have one or two casualties along the way, your garden should still look great when you return from your much needed holiday.

Is Your Home Fully Insured?

  • While we all hope than nothing bad will happen at home while we are away, there are, of course, no guarantees no matter how careful you are to make sure things are safe and secure while you are on holiday. It is vitally important to make sure that your home is fully insured, with buildings and contents insurance.
  • Money Pug can help you find the right home and contents insurance for you. By using our handy and easy to use comparison service, you can make sure you are fully covered for every eventuality. A standard home insurance policy will usually cover you for:

  1. Flooding
  2. Subsidence
  3. Theft or Vandalism
  4. Fire
  5. Damage Caused by Lightning
  6. Water Damage

If you are going away, it is important to make sure that there is nothing that will invalidate your insurance or make insurance companies less likely to pay out. You should note that insurance companies may not pay out for loss due to theft if doors were not locked, alarms were not set, or you shared your plans openly on social media.

  •  If you are planning an extended period of travel, you may also get the opportunity to extend your home insurance cover by taking out an additional extra which offers extra home cover for when you are away from home. This can be a viable choice if you are looking at insuring a home during an extended holiday or longer absence.

Are Your Doors & Windows All Secured?

  • Even when you are fully insured, you are unlikely to see a pay out if you were robbed and your doors and windows were not all fully secured. Make sure you do not lose out due to your own negligence or carelessness. Before you leave for your holiday, double and triple check all your doors and windows on your home, garage and any sheds. Make sure that all your windows are properly closed and fastened and that all locks are working correctly before you leave your home unattended for any length of time.

Have You Set Any Alarms?

If you do not have a burglar alarm at home, it could be a good idea to consider fitting one, especially if you live in a high-risk area. Having alarms fit can lower the costs of home insurance and will, of course, act as a deterrent to thieves as well as protecting your home while you are away on holiday.

If you do have a burglar alarm, make sure before you go away that it is set and fully functional. It is also a good idea to make sure that fire and carbon monoxide detectors are also set and functioning correctly before you travel away from home.

Can You Make It Look Like Someone Is Still Home?

Do you remember the film ‘Home Alone’? While you will be unlikely to be so inventive with your own preparations, it can be a good idea to make it look like there is still someone at home. One way to do so is to consider installing timers on some lights, so these come on and off at certain times and make it look like there is someone in the property. Another option could be to ask a friend or neighbour to park in the drive, so that the absence of a vehicle is not noted by anyone casing the joint.

Are Any Keys Or Valuables On Display?

It is all well and good locking up carefully, but if you leave your keys visible and accessible then this defeats the object. Thieves have been known to hook keys from near a door through a cat/dog flap or letterbox. Leaving keys where they can be easily seen through a window could entice thieves, as could leaving valuables such as laptops or other electronics on display. Make sure portable, valuable items you are not taking are put away out of sight before you go on holiday.

Are Electronics Unplugged?

It is also a good idea to make sure that all electronic items such as computers and televisions are unplugged before you go away if your property is going to be lying empty. Not only will this save you money if you forget to turn any of them off, it will also reduce fire risks and protect electronic items in the case of a blown fuse or lightning strike.

Have You Left A GPS On Display In Your Car At the Airport?

One final thing to consider is that a GPS left in your car at the airport could be used to lead thieved back to your empty home. If your car is stolen, thieves could use a GPS to find out your home address and steal more from you. Make sure that your car is secure, parked in a safe place, and that you remove the GPS from the vehicle.

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