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Christmas New

16 December 2016

How can you protect your home during Christmas?

With the Christmas season in full swing, many families in Wales this week will be packing up their cars with presents and festive treats to spend the holiday with relatives across the country. With the house left unattended, how can you protect your home during this time? Here, Naveed Mohamed, Head of Product Management and Pricing at Principality Building Society, gives advice on safeguarding your house while you’re enjoying Christmas elsewhere.  

Presents. Check. Mulled wine. Check. Crackers. Check. The planners among you have probably already finished wrapping presents for the family and are busy checking the weather forecast regularly to see if we’re due a white Christmas this year. And if you’re spending Christmas away from home, you might be planning exactly what you need to take with you. But while you’re busy packing suitcases and loading up the car, have you considered the measures you should be taking to look after your home while you’re gone? Factoring both weather and unwanted visitors, there are a range of effective steps you can take to keep your house safe, even if you’re not there. 

Check the locks 

Give every external door and window a good once over before you set off and run a quick checklist. Does every lock work and do the windows shut securely? If you have a burglar alarm, is it set and are the batteries working? In the unfortunate event that someone does successfully enter your home, if windows or doors weren’t securely locked your insurance provider might not pay the full amount for your claim due to ‘reasonable care’ of the property not being taken. 

Set the lights strategically 

Despite not being in your home, you can certainly create the illusion that you are by using timers to set main lights to come on at key times of the day. Although the daylight hours are much shorter now, households are most likely to turn lights on during the evenings. With this in mind, set the lights closest to the front door to come on for the evening. If you can’t do this automatically, you can buy timers that link up to the lights in your home for as cheap as ten pounds. 

Hiding precious items

While setting your lights to come on once a day is a good deterrent for burglars, having expensive or precious household items on display in the windows will do the opposite.  Stow these away safely while you’re not there, and likewise ensure your home insurance policy is completely in date and covers these high value items. After Christmas Day, you could quickly dispose of the boxes your gifts came in – especially large expensive gifts. Advertising the presence of expensive merchandise inside your home could attract unwanted attention.  

Time your boiler 

If you’re away from home and unable to react to changing weather conditions, timing your boiler to come on once or twice a day is an easy way of preventing burst or frozen pipes and a potentially large bill to start the New Year. 

Don’t overshare on social media 

While Christmas is a really exciting time of year for many, broadcasting every step of the family trip on social media could actually put your home at risk. Avoid posting your whereabouts on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, as it only emphasises that your home will be empty for some time. And if you like sharing pictures of the family on social media with distant relatives or old school friends, do so once you’re back at home. 

Speak to a trustworthy neighbour 

If you’re lucky enough to have reliable and friendly neighbours, you could let them know the exact dates you’re heading off for Christmas and ask them to keep an eye on the house. If you’ve known them for some time and feel they are trustworthy, you could leave them with a key for emergencies and ask them to bring any post or leaflets in from the doorway. This will once again give the impression you’re home- piles of post on the doorstep are a  sure sign there’s no one at home. 

Published: 16/12/2016