Heading off on holiday? Everyone needs a bit of rest and relaxation, and some time away from the stresses of day-to-day life.

In the days before going away on holiday your mind is probably occupied with packing for your trip, getting to your destination, and of course, the weather forecast. But you should also consider what you can do to help keep your home secure while you’re away.

Depending on the length of your holiday your property is going to be left unoccupied for a period of time. This puts your home at greater risk of being burgled; an empty property is more appealing to potential thieves than an occupied one, for obvious reasons.

There are plenty of things you can do to help keep your home secure while you’re on holiday.

Keep Your Home Secure – Make Your House Look Occupied

You may be physically away from your home, but you shouldn’t advertise this. There are some simple ways to make it look as if someone is at home, including:

  • Keep curtains and blinds open while you’re away – closing them gives the impression that no-one is home.
  • Use a timer to turn lights on and off in the evening. You can buy simple timers that fit into plug sockets that schedule lights to come on for a couple of hours, giving the impression that someone is home at night.
  • If your front garden needs mowing, do so before you go away. An overgrown lawn is a real giveaway that your property is unattended.

Enlist the help of neighbours

When you’re away on holiday your neighbours can be a great help. If you have a good relationship with them, ask them if they don’t mind keeping an eye on your home and stepping in with one or two simple tasks.

For example, if you’re using your car while you’re away and the neighbours have more than once vehicle, invite them to use your driveway, or park their car outside your house. If you feel comfortable enough to give them a set of your keys, they can also keep the letterbox free of mail. Leaflets, mail and papers poking out through the letterbox for days on end is another tell-tale sign that the occupants of the house are absent.

If you get milk, groceries or other items delivered to your house, make sure you cancel them or redirect them while you’re away. Alternatively, a neighbour or family member may be able to regularly collect these for you.

Neighbours can also help by putting your household bins out ready for collection day.

If you’re away for a week or two, your bins will need collecting – putting them out a week in advance is a signal that you’re away for a length of time. If a neighbour can put yours out on the morning of collection and return them once they’ve been emptied, that helps give the impression it’s “business as usual” at your home.

Stay quiet on social media while on holiday

In this era of social media, one of the first things you might feel like doing when you arrive at your holiday destination is to take some photos, and upload them to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Who doesn’t love a holiday selfie, a snap of you reclining on a sunbed with a glittering skyline as the backdrop? It might seem harmless, but be cautious, as you’re essentially advertising the fact that you’re away from home.

Think carefully about the potential of a post, on the first day of a holiday, celebrating the start of a two-week trip to a long-haul destination – which clearly announces your property will be empty for a long period of time. Once you have released a post like that, you don’t have much control over who else sees it and how it’s shared; you’re disclosing personal information. It could easily come to the attention of someone who could identify where you live, and take advantage of that.

If you do wish to share holiday images, a safer way to do it is to wait until you’re back at home. You could also create a private group in a message service like WhatsApp, reserved for family and close friends only, if you really do feel the need to share pictures and updates regularly while you’re away.

Keep Your Home Secure – Check, Check and Check Again

Give yourself plenty of time before you leave your property to run through some checks. These are basic tips, but it’s easy to neglect something that might prove costly later.

Check all doors and windows are not just closed but locked, too. It’s easy to think a back door is locked, forgetting that last quick peek into the back garden, or overlook the window in the downstairs toilet that’s left slightly ajar. Make sure any outbuildings, like a shed or garage, are secure too. You may not think an unlocked shed door makes any difference, but if that shed is housing a ladder and tools, you’re giving potential thieves a helping hand to access vulnerable areas of your property.

Make sure any valuables are kept out of view – don’t leave an iPad on a windowsill, or a games console in plain sight in a room; it can look like an open invitation for intruders.

It’s also important that you keep your home secure in other ways, too, and not just from possible burglary. Switch off and unplug appliances that don’t need to be left on – including kettles, microwaves and toasters – to reduce fire risk. It’s also good to save energy.

Review your home insurance

Before you go on holiday, it’s worth reviewing and checking your home insurance to ensure you’re covered while away. Some policies have terms and conditions that detail the amount of time your property is left unattended. A week away in Spain is unlikely to make any difference, but if you’re heading off on a month-long excursion around Europe, you might find it does.

Ultimately, to keep your home secure should be part of your pre-holiday preparation. Ensure you get everything organised and you can head off on holiday with peace of mind, able to focus on just one thing – enjoying your time away.

For more information on how to keep your home secure while you’re away contact Soteria Safes.

The original version of this article was published in www.rac.co.uk.