August 2019
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caroselI hate to be a doom monger, but I’m a huge, huge, believer in pre-emptive measures to try and avoid the worst happening -the 6 Ps and all that.

So, you’re off on your summer holidays. Wahey! The kids have finished school, you’ve found the passports, packed the EHIC Cards. What else? Obviously, I think you should all use my Holiday Home Care package (well, I would, wouldn’t I?) but I thought I’d pass on some other good ideas too.

Things to do before you go.

Switch all power sockets off at the wall.

Except your fridge, freezer and any on/off lights. Sounds obvious, but easy to forget.

Put the plants in the bath (or the kitchen sink)

And fill it a couple of inches deep with water. Should be enough to keep them alive for a day or so.  Do NOT do this if your kitchen sink is visible from a street facing window – it’s a dead giveaway the house is empty.

Know your neighbours?

If you do – great! Tell them you are going away and ask them to keep an eye out, making sure they have a contact number for you.  If you know them really well give them keys, otherwise give them the name and number of someone who lives nearby who has keys.  Make sure someone has keys – if you have a leak it’s better not to have your door forced in to to get at it.

Don’t know your neighbours?

You have two choices – either take a chance and talk to them, or leave a note in your front hall with contact details for someone you trust.  That way if the worst happens someone will be able to summon help.  Make sure this person has keys and the authority to spend money on your behalf. I have a form I give clients to sign authorising me to act for them – and it’s not a stupid idea to do something similar for your trusted friend.

Clear all temptation from your car

Depending on how you are getting to the airport, decide where you are leaving you car – it’s a great time to get it serviced if the garage will keep it for a week.

Back up your PC, laptop and photographs.

Just in case. And leave the hard drive with your mum, or a friend.

Cut the grass before you go.

 

Things to remember to take with you

  • Travel Insurance documents and EHIC cards of you are going to europe. Travel insurance is cheap (I paid £45 for two people for an annual multi-trip for worldwide cover, including baggage cover). Medical repatriation could bankrupt you. Use a travel insurance comparison site. Check if you have insurance through your bank account – and if you do, check it is actually suitable for you.
  • A basic health kit – painkillers, anti-diarrhoea tablets and diaoralyte sachets, sticking plasters, anti -histamines (ie hayfever tablets) for bad insect bites, any drugs you usually take. Aftersun.
  • Chargers for any electronics – phone, camera etc.
  • A spare credit card.  In an ideal world you need two credit cards and you need to keep them seperately – one in your handbag/ daysack and, one hidden in your suitcase back in your hotel room. Check which one is the cheaper to spend on abroad and make it your primary card.
  • Depending on where you are going/staying a rubber door wedge is a simple, easy to pack way of ensuring that your room door stays shut when you are inside it.
  • A photocopy of your passport.  It’s also a great idea to scan all documents (passport, tickets, insurance) and email them to a webmail address.
  • anti-bacterial hand gel.

Simple Home security tips

It boils down to this: remove temptation as much as you can.  A determined thief will always find a way – but few thieves are determined. Most thieves are lazy, so some fairly simply steps can go along way.  There are two main aims: don’t let your house look empty, and don’t leave valuables easily accessible.

Use Automatic timers

On at least two lights – sitting room and bedroom ideally.  This is less of a thing in summer, than winter, but still worth doing.

If your car is outside, don’t leave your keys inside

And provide a handy getaway vehicle.

Lock every door you can.

My flat has mortice locks on every internal door. Break into my front hall, and that’s as far as you get easily.  I realise there is expense in that (my flat was bedsits once upon a time).  But how about fitting a couple of yales?

 Move your jewellery and small trinkets

Leave your beads and things where they are (hopefully the thief will assume that’s all you have) , but anything of actual or sentimental value should either be given to someone for safe keeping, or hidden. Put them in a coffee can in the kitchen cupboard, an empty Vanish tub under the sink, a cornflake box, something.

Store your PC back up in someone else’s house – or at work.

Remove your X-box/Wii/DVD recorder/Laptop

From plain sight.  Stick them under the towels in your bathroom, in the linen closet.  I have an old trunk I use as a window seat – things go in there, and then a throw and cushions go back on top.

Check your home insurance.

Check it covers your home to be empty for as long as you are away. Check if they have emergency repair services, and take the relevant contact details with you.

What would you take from your house if it was burning?

Those are the things you need to secure, one way or another.

 Away for more than two weeks?

If you have a front lawn which is usually regularly cut, then get someone to cut it in your absence.  A messy lawn can be a dead giveaway that a house is empty.

 And the BIG piece of Advice:

So long as you remember to pack your passport and a credit card, it doesn’t matter what else you forgot to pack.

So take a deep breath, relax, and treat yourself to a Gin and Tonic in the airport. Even if it is 8am! You’re on holiday!

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