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Keeping Your Home Safe While You're Away

Do you get more anxious the closer you get to home after a wonderful vacation? Is everything still safe and secure? Could anything have gone wrong? The holiday jitters are enough to take the edge off any great holiday so have a look at our advice for minimising the risk of anything happening while your house stands empty.

Security

The trick is to make it look as if you are still there, which can be done by putting timers on lights and leaving your curtains and blinds as they usually are. Make sure your garden is mowed, swept and generally tidied up just before you go so that it doesn't look neglected and left alone.

You can also ask a trusted friend to keep an eye on your place for you by:

Feeding your pets.

Keeping to your normal routine with things like opening and closing curtains and putting the bins out.

Running your car for a while in the winter to keep the battery topped up.

Watering houseplants and the garden.

Clearing away newspapers, fliers and mail from the mat.

Make sure they have all your contact information and a copy of your planned itinerary.

Even if you don't have anyone close who can do this, pet and home sitters will do the same for a small fee, which may well be worth it for the peace of mind it brings. If you're worried about locks and entry points, a good locksmith will come around to your house to check how they can help you improve your security. Of course, they are there to sell so do mull over what they have to say. If your locks need an upgrade anyway, now is a good time to do this. You can also invest in padlocks for places like back garden gates and shed doors if you think they merit the expense.

If you've been pondering an alarm system, do get one fitted well before you go away so that any teething problems can be ironed out. If your alarm is going off at all hours of the night people are going to start ignoring it, even when it's going off with good cause. If you do have an alarm company, let them know you'll be away.

If you know who your Neighbourhood Watch organiser is, pop along and let them know you'll be away, or ask a friendly neighbour to just keep an eye out. If you do have someone coming over to check in while you're away, let your neighbours know so that they don't go calling the police!

Safety

Have your friends or a neighbour keep an eye on your pipes and boiler if the weather is bad. Don't just turn off all electrical appliances, but unplug them too to avoid harmful electrical surges.

Discretion

The less people that know you are away, the better. So, email responders telling all and sundry you are off to Vegas are not a good idea. Neither are answer machine messages, Facebook and other social media updates letting people know your whereabouts. If you have children, encourage them to be as discreet as you are. Their own friends may be perfectly trustworthy, but word spreads. Finally, just like travel insurance, contents insurance will help you if things do go wrong, so a final check that you're covered should help make that journey home just a little less anxious.

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Paula Gardner

Paula Gardner is the Press Officer for Essential Travel. Paula is big Italophile and loves many things about the country: its rich red wines, strong cheeses, creamy gelato, passionate people and lyrical language. Paula has been learning Italian for four years but is still shy about speaking it. On a career break inn her 20s she travelled the world, visiting every continent, but travel now tends to be to European cities. Apart from just about anywhere in Italy, other favourites are Lisbon and Palma in Majorca. Sicily is top of the bucket list.