Make sure your home is safe & secure before you leave for holidays

It seems that the year has flown by in 2016 speed. It's hard to believe that in just a few weeks, South Africa will be winding down for the December holidays. It's a time to rest, relax and spend time with loved ones. Whether you're heading off for the sun, sand and surf of the coast, foreign shores or taking a well-deserved rest at home with family and loved ones, there are some important checks and balances to put in place to make sure your assets are properly protected.

Take the time to protect yourself and your family against criminal elements that always kick up their activities during the festive season. Making sure that your home is safe and secure when you get back from the holidays will require some planning, so make use of this handy check list to make sure you have checked all the boxes:

o Firstly, leave a spare set of keys, as well as a contact address and phone number, with a trusted family member, neighbour or friend in case of an emergency such as an extended power failure, fire, burglary, burst geyser or resetting your alarm. If you can get someone to house sit for you, even better! o If you cannot find a willing friend or family member to house sit, consider appointing a reputable house sitting service to keep tabs on your property and to switch on lights, feed pets, clear post boxes of mail, water plants and put out rubbish bins on collection day – and to let you or your neighbour know if there's a problem. o Check that your burglar alarm is fully operational and test the response of your security company to your alarm. Notify them or your neighbourhood watch that you are going away. o Place any weapons, valuables and important documents in a safe or a bank safety deposit box and don't leave the keys at home. o Lock the electricity mains box outside your property. o Invest in a few timers and day-night switches for your lights. Don't leave lights burning 24/7 – not only is it a terrible waste of energy, but it's also a dead giveaway that no one is at home. o Ensure that your electric gate motor is secured with a locked safety bracket. o Cancel deliveries of newspapers and arrange for a neighbour to clear your post box. o Disconnect computers, TVs and other lightning-sensitive equipment including TV aerials o Immobilise any vehicles you leave behind and lock the keys for them in your safe. o If you are making an expensive Christmas purchase, pre-arrange for insurance cover with your broker so that you're covered from the moment you leave the store. o Check that trailers and cars you use on holiday are roadworthy and properly licensed. o Test your vehicle tracking device. o If you have loaded up the cameras, cell phones, iPads, designer sunglasses and handbags, make sure they are properly insured under the All Risks section of your policy. o Ensure your driver's licence is still valid and if you are travelling outside SA, check the territorial limits of your cover regarding cross border requirements – some countries insist on licence papers or proof of insurance. o Finally, CCTV camera systems have become very affordable, so invest in them and link the system to your armed response company if they offer this facility. Many of these systems can also be linked up to your laptop or smart phone so you can stay in touch no matter where you are in the country. Being caught on camera is also a deterrent for criminals. Check that your insurance details and premiums are up to date and make sure you have your broker's details stored on your phone.

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