Securing your home for the Christmas holidays, the essential checklist

If you’ve picked the perfect destination for your Christmas holiday, booked flights, packed your bag and shipped the dog off to your mum’s place, then you’re totally ready to jet off on your trip and forget about things at home for a while, right?

Well, sure, as long as you’ve remembered to secure everything at home before you go. That doesn’t just mean locking all the doors and remembering to shut the gate behind you - there are a few extra tasks to check off your list before heading to the airport.

If you don’t have a list, don’t worry - we’ve made this one for you.

  • Turn off and unplug Christmas lights. It might be tempting to leave your finely crafted Christmas light display running while you’re away, but try not to cave to that urge. Not only will it suck up a lot of electricity, leaving you with a massive power bill, but unattended Christmas lights can also pose a fire hazard. Plus, if you’re running a cord to a powerpoint inside, leaving it plugged in means leaving a window ajar - which potential thieves will spot instantly.
  • Let a trusted neighbour know you’ll be gone. If you’ve got a nearby neighbour you trust, it’s worth letting them know you’re going away and asking them to keep an eye on your place. Whether or not that includes watering plants and feeding pets, knowing someone is keeping watch on the homefront will help put your mind at ease.
  • Invest in a security system. If you don’t have one already, this might be the perfect time to install a home security system. It can be as simple or high tech as you like and the level of security you choose will depend on things like your budget and the neighbourhood you live in.
  • Let your home insurer know you’re going away. It may seem like overkill, but if you’re going away for an extended trip, you should let your home insurer know because many policies don’t cover homes that have been left unoccupied for a certain time period, usually 30, 60 or 90 days. So if your trip is longer than a month, be sure to make arrangements with your insurance company so your cover doesn’t lapse.
  • Make it less obvious you’re away. Empty houses are a target for thieves, so you might take steps to make it look like someone’s home. This might be as simple as having a neighbour collect the mail so it doesn’t pile up, or you might set lights or a radio to a timer so they turn off and on at regular times. TOP TIP: While posting instagram selfies is a key part of any trip away, be aware of who can see your social media profiles - it could give would-be thieves an insight into when your home will be empty.
  • Finish off maintenance jobs. If there’s some routine maintenance that might need doing while you’re away, it’s not a bad idea to do it in advance. Remember that if you neglect this maintenance in favour of the resort pool and your home is damaged as a result, your home insurance claim can be denied.
  • Pay any pending bills. If there are bills that will come in while you’re away, make sure you’ve set up a direct debit or paid them ahead of time - you don’t want to return home to find that your electricity or water has been switched off!
  • Update your home insurance and take inventory of your belongings. If something does happen at home while you’re away, then you’ll want your home insurance to be up to date. If you’ve renovated, bought new furniture or added big appliances to your house since you bought your home insurance policy, then it might be time to update it with a higher cover limit. It also pays to have a list of your belongings and how much they’re worth, in case you need to make a claim. Don’t have home insurance? Well then it’s probably about time you looked into a policy.