It’s been almost three years since we were allowed to travel freely and not worry about the rules and regulations of visiting people whilst Covid was rampaging through the world.
This year, with restrictions eased and life returning to some semblance of normality, many people are considering going away to be with family and friends this Christmas and/or New Year – whether to far flung destinations or closer to home. But if you do go away this festive period, ensure you have secured your home properly.
Doors and windows
Probably the first thing to do is check all doors and windows. Make sure there are locks on the windows and the keys are hidden away. If there are no locks, consider fitting a robust locking mechanism to give you peace of mind. Doors also should have a multiple locking system of mortice locks as well as high security hinges. Don’t keep keys near the door and certainly not in the lock. Before you leave, go round the property and make sure all windows and doors are not only shut but locked.
Good neighbours are worth their weight in gold so get to know yours if you can. Let them know when you will be away and ask them to keep a spare key, just in case. They will keep an eye out in case there are any unwanted visitors and could even help by popping in, opening and shutting curtains and watering the plants. They could also keep an eye out for parcel deliveries and take them in rather than let them sit on the doormat.
Lights on a timer in the house are a good idea but see if you can get them to come on at different times while you are away, rather than at the same time each day. It gives the impression someone is home. Motion-activated outdoor lights, placed near doors and gates, are also a good idea and will not only alert potential intruders but also neighbours.
Many people choose to close their curtains or blinds while they are away but this can actually make it obvious the house is empty. Instead, consider fitting sheer curtains in a light fabric, similar to net curtains, or a blind in a lightweight material. This will stop people being able to see in and it won’t be so obvious no one is home.
It may sound obvious but don’t leave any valuables on display especially if you decide to leave curtains and blinds open during the day. Better still, keep them locked up or in the loft out of the way. If there is anything very precious take it with you.
Don’t forget to lock up any sheds, garages or summer houses in the garden. Gardening tools, equipment, bikes, mowers and scooters should be hidden and locked away securely.
Hedges, fences, walls and gates
Large hedges and shrubs should be cut back to allow potential intruders no privacy if they come calling. If you have a side gate ensure it’s locked and bolted. If there are any loose or broken fence panels which could be used as an entry point, get them fixed and secure. Fences should be high enough to deter anyone from climbing over but you could also think about planting a shrub with prickles such as a pyracantha or rose in the borders. You could also put a lightweight trellis on the top of the fence and grow a plant up it. However, if you are next to a road the fence should be no more than 1m high and all other fencing should not exceed 2m high.
Gravel is an excellent material for paths or any area around the perimeter of the property as it is a natural deterrent. No intruder will want to bring attention to themselves by making loud crunching noises as they approach a house.
For those technically minded, there are now plenty of ways to keep an eye on your home even if you are in another part of the world. As well as fitting a decent alarm system, doorbell cameras and security systems can be controlled with a smart phone and done so remotely which gives instant peace of mind.