Sunscreen, check. Costume, check. Spotify holiday playlist curated, check.
If you’re excited about the coming holidays you’re not alone. With just a few weeks to go before the end of the year, thousands of South Africans are counting down the days until they can escape on their summer holiday. If you’re still planning the last few things to do before your vacation time officially starts, use this checklist to make sure your home stays safe while you’re away.
Prevent household disasters
A summer holiday is supposed to be a time for relaxing and forgetting about your cares, so there is nothing worse than getting a call to say a disaster has befallen your home. Geysers bursting, your home flooding or a tree falling onto your roof during a fierce summer storm… any of these will be problematic to deal with from afar and may cut your holiday short if you’re forced to return home to take care of things.
Make sure your home stays safe while you’re away, says Alen Ribic, co-founder of SweepSouth Connect, a handy app that puts you in touch with a list of reliable professionals like handymen, electricians and plumbers in your area to help address house niggles. The app is especially useful if you need to locate a professional in a jiffy during the tricky holiday period when it seems like every business has shut its doors.
Take a walk around the interior and exterior of your home and spot things that could be disasters waiting to happen, like exposed wiring that could cause a fire when you’re not there to put it out, advises Alen.
Is your home secure?
Keep your home and belongings safe and secure while you’re away. A house that is noticeably standing empty is a tempting target for criminals on the lookout. Post that piles up, advertising flyers stuck all over your garage door and an unmowed lawn is all tell-take signs you’re not there, so arrange for a neighbour or a friend to keep an eye on things while you’re gone. Promise to do the same for them if they go away.
If you have an alarm, give them a remote to deactivate it if it mistakenly goes off, and make sure your security company can access the property if they suspect foul play. If needed, place your front door keys in a storage lockbox mounted on a wall in a secure spot on your property. It’s opened via a combination, which can be sent by you in case of an emergency.
Again, inspect your house and property for vulnerable areas, advises Alen. Trim branches that are hanging low over a wall, as they could be a security risk, store away gardening and home DIY tools like spades and hammers that could be used by thieves to break windows, and chain up outdoor ladders so that they can’t be employed to gain access to high windows.
Make sure all your windows close tightly and ensure basic door integrity, especially front and pedestrian gates and doors, checking that they can’t easily be smashed open.
Consider leaving a radio on low while you’re away, as even a slight noise could deter opportunistic thieves. There’s also a range of tech on the market to help boost your security and deter burglars. Light switch timers will turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule, creating the illusion that someone is home, while surveillance cameras allow you to see what’s happening at home even when you’re far away.
Don’t forget your plants
If you have someone looking after your home while you’re away, book a gardener through the SweepSouth Connect app to come in and take care of the garden – there’s nothing worse than coming home to a shrivelled up, brown lawn and having to pull it up and start again. If you only have indoor houseplants, try this nifty watering trick to keep them alive while you’re gone. Place the plant next to the bathtub, a sink or a bucket filled with some water. Place one end of a piece of cotton rope in the water, making sure it reaches the bottom of the container, then push the other end of the cotton rope below the surface of the soil, close to the plant, taking care not to disturb the roots. The rope will act as a wick, pulling the water your plant needs into the soil.
Make sure that valuable items like laptops aren’t visible if a burglar peers through a window, and store jewellery and important documents in a safe or a locked cupboard. Unplug your television, computer, toaster, and other appliances to protect them from power surges that may occur during load shedding.
If you haven’t booked your holiday yet, and you don’t want to pay for an arm and a leg, consider using Cheapflights to find flight rates that suit your budget. Logging on to a global flight search and travel deals website like Cheapflights gives you the power to be your own travel agent. You can find cheap flights, cars, stays and things to do without having to leave your couch.
A holiday is meant to relax and recharge you. Make sure your home is disaster-proof and that you have everything in place so that you can go away without a care in the world.