It’s that time of the year when just about everyone in South Africa eagerly counts down the days, hours, minutes (heck, even seconds) to the summer holidays… Because for many it also marks the time to swap the busy city life for something a little more quite and relaxing like the beach or bushveld.
If you’re leaving town (and your home) for a few days or a couple of weeks this festive season, then sunscreen, flip flops and that best-selling novel aren’t the only things that should be on your holiday checklist. Making sure that your home remains safe, secure and in shipshape while you’re away should be number one on the list!
And to get you started, we’ve put together a guide of things to tick off before you head out:
1. Update your household insurance
It might not be ideal to think about all the things that could possibly go wrong while you’re away on holiday (such as a burst pipe, broken geyser, electrical damage, burglary or even a freak storm) before you’ve even left. But being prepared will save you lots of money (and tears) in the odd chance of something bad happening. Start by checking that your building and household insurance is up to date, find out for what exactly you will be covered for, and make amendments to your policy where necessary. Your insurance broker should be able to guide you through it.
2. Ask your neighbours
Most of us are (hopefully) lucky to have good, respectable neighbours, but knowing who in the neighbourhood will really have your back while you’re away is a priceless asset. So, let your dependable friends next door or down the road know that you’ll be away, and ask them to keep an eye on your place during the time. You may even want to give them a spare key in case of a household emergency and/or ask them to look after your pets while you’re away.
3. Give your garden a good clean
One of the biggest tell-tale signs that homeowners are away on holiday is an overgrown lawn and unruly garden. Instead, cut your lawn and clean out the garden beds a day or two before you leave – even better, ask a neighbour’s son to mow the lawn while you’re away for extra pocket money. This way you’ll arrive home to a garden that looks neat and tidy, and passersby will have very little reason to think that no one is home.
4. Switch to a light timer
Leaving lights on all night (and day) for consecutive days or weeks shouts (loudly and brightly) that there’s no one at home. Rather, purchase a light timer that can be programmed to turn lights on and off at specific or different times while you’re away. Not only will it save you from a hefty electrical bill, but it’ll also create the look and feel that someone’s at home. Bye-bye burglars!
5. Turn off your water
No one wants to get that call that a pipe burst and his or her home is now flooded while away on holiday! Preventing any unforeseeable leaks or big water is really as easy as turning your home’s water off at the source. And considering that most of South Africa is currently experiencing water restrictions, you’ll also be doing your bit for our country and the environment.
6. Leave the curtains open
It seems natural to want to close your home’s curtains to prevent people from peering in while you’re away. However, doing so for three days or more at a time will actually make it more obvious that you’re not home. Plus, you’re also blocking your neighbours, friends and any security response from seeing inside – creating the perfect scenario for anyone who has motive to burgle you to go unseen. Instead, remove any expensive items like jewellery, computers and entertainment equipment out of sight and leave the curtains open.
7. Pull the plug
Did you know that most appliances that are plugged in still draw energy, even if they’re not turned on? Gulp! So make sure you’ve unplugged the TV, computer, toaster, oven and other appliances that can do without electricity before you leave on holiday. And while you’re disconnecting things, flip the off button on the geyser switch – this is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to electricity consumption! By doing this one simple job, you will not only save on electricity, but also prevent any power surges while you’re on holiday.