As the Christmas and New Year break approaches, I’m planning to stay in the warm and admire the Christmas tree with a glass of sherry. Some though will take the opportunity of lots of bank holidays to go away for a short break, while others will want to leave the cold weather for an extended trip to warmer climes.
You don’t want 2013 to start badly so, before you disappear, make sure you’ve done everything you can to avoid coming back to a disaster in your home:
- Don’t Tweet that you’re away. Many of us use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and the temptation is to publish all sorts of personal information. But beware: it’s been known that burglaries have happened as a direct result of finding out about holiday plans on these sites. And there have also been reports of insurers refusing to pay out if they think an online post has triggered the theft. So don’t do it – and make sure your children don’t either.
- Keep the temperature up. Cold snaps can happen very quickly, and pipes can freeze. So if you’re only going away for a short time, it makes sense to leave some heating on very low, or on a timer to come on for short periods. If you’re going away for longer, then enlist the help of neighbours to put the heating on if necessary. And ask them to check your house for frozen pipes if it does get very cold.
- Check your pipes before you go. In particular, make sure they are properly lagged. This is especially important in the loft, or in vulnerable areas such as near external walls.
- Check you’re covered. If you’re going away for an extended winter break, then you should make sure your household insurance is valid. Some policies only offer existing cover on properties which are unoccupied for a maximum of 30 days; others limit it to 60.
- Remember the normal precautions. Don’t forget to stop the papers and the milk. And ask a neighbour not just to keep an eye on your post but also to stop free papers from sticking out of your letterbox – an obvious sign to potential burglars that there’s no one in.
Whatever you’re doing, enjoy the Christmas and New Year break.