How to keep your home and family safe during the holidays

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Criminal activity increases during the holidays so it’s important to take precautions. Here are our tips for protecting your home and family at this time.

Just because you are on holiday doesn’t mean that criminals are also taking a break. In fact, criminal activity generally picks up during peak holiday periods.

Criminals strike all over the country, so even though you battened down the hatches and secured your home before setting off, remember that you need to be equally as safety-conscious when you reach your destination. Here are some tips to help keep you (and your possessions) safe while you relax.

Holiday safety tips for your home

Safety checklist before you leave home:

  • Test all the zones of your alarm system to ensure that they are working correctly.
  • Inspect the perimeter of your home to ensure that there aren’t any holes in fences or walls and that any gates are secure.
  • Make sure that CCTV cameras are working and are positioned in such a way that they give a clear view of what is happening both inside and outside your property.
  • Check that the electric fence is in good working order. Cut back any plants or trees that may interfere with the fence’s efficient functioning while you are away.
  • Put outside lights on a timer. For added security, you may consider putting the inside lights on a timer as well in order to give the impression that someone is home.
  • Be careful about what you post on social media. Advertising the fact that you are going away for a two-week break may not seem like a big deal, but it could come back to bite if the information falls into the wrong hands. Rather discuss the experience afterwards, once you are home safely.
  • Ask your neighbours to keep an eye on things. Think about offering to let them use your driveway if they are expecting guests over the festive period. The activity will make the home appear occupied. Consider leaving a set of keys with someone you trust in case something goes wrong inside your house.
  • Arrange for your post to be cleared from your letterbox on a regular basis while you are away.
  • Double-check that all windows, doors and security gates are locked before you leave. It’s also highly recommended that you inspect all the burglar guards and repair or replace where necessary.
  • Make sure any outbuildings, including storerooms, are well secured.
  • Check your insurance policies before you leave. Make sure that items such as electronic goods are sufficiently insured to cover the replacement value if something goes wrong. Although thieves tend to be pretty determined, there’s no reason to make their lives easier, so lock any valuables away.

It is advisable to take additional care, even if you’re not going away during this time.

  • Don’t advertise the fact that you’re planning on having a bumper Christmas by placing the Christmas tree with the gifts beneath in plain sight.
  • Discard the boxes of any expensive items with care. A flat screen TV box, computer boxes and the like placed on the kerb places a spotlight on what is in the home. Either refrain from putting the boxes out until the day of the garbage collection or even better, consider burning or collapsing the boxes of more expensive items.
  • Keep security gates locked and the perimeter beams on if you are entertaining outside. There’s no safety in numbers anymore and thieves will often strike regardless of how many people are around.
  • Keep security gates locked during the day. Teach your older children the importance of safety and teach them how to lock gates. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday vibe and become lax about security. Criminals know this and this could be why crime levels tend to spike over holiday periods.
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious-looking people roaming the neighbourhood and report them to your local community watch if their behaviour concerns you.

Keeping safe while you’re away

Criminals often view holidaymakers as sitting ducks. We all tend to drop our guard while on holiday, and criminals will seize even the slightest opportunity to strike. Unfortunately, people often assume that crime rates are lower in holiday spots, but this isn’t always the case. Here are some tips to help keep you safe while you’re away.

  • Don’t take valuables to the beach. Lock them away in a safe or place them out of sight.
  • Don’t walk on the beach at night. Yes, we know it’s romantic, but it can be extremely dangerous.
  • Don’t walk alone in secluded areas, regardless of how safe it appears to be.
  • Keep security gates locked at all times.
  • Lock the doors and close all the windows at night.
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