It’s the season for festive fun and holiday travel, but while you’re busy making sure everything is set for your trip away, have you thought about whether your home is holiday-ready too? Whether you’re going away for a few days or a few weeks, there are small steps you can take to make your homecoming all the more enjoyable and stress-free. From security and electrical, to garbage and the garden, here are six helpful tips to keep your home safe and sound while you enjoy the festive season.
1. Lock it up
Keeping your home and its contents safe and secure is arguably the most important thing to do before going on holidays. Start by checking all door and window locks to ensure they are working, looking out for broken or loose parts and hinges. Also, take the time to look at all doors, security screens and windows closely, ensuring they are secure and sitting on their tracks, and that screens aren’t ripped or damaged. You may not have a lot of time for repairs before you go, but if something is jeopardising the security of your home you should make it a priority before you leave.
If you have a cat or dog door, make sure it is locked. It might be small, but it can still give thieves access to your home. Likewise, don’t forget to lock your garden shed so your garden and household tools are protected. By keeping the shed locked, you will not only help to prevent theft but also avoid exposure to the elements.
Before you leave, you might also want to close blinds and curtains, and if you have a spare key hidden outside under a pot or mat, you should bring it inside.
Set your alarm system if you have one and let your security company know your departure and return dates. If you're leaving the state or the country, give your security company the contact details of a friend or relative in case they can’t contact you or if they need access to your home.
2. Turn it off
Save money, energy and keep your home safe from a potential electrical fire by unplugging appliances before you hit the road. Items such as alarm clocks, coffee machines, TVs, sound systems, air-conditioners and computers don’t need to be turned on when you’re not there. Also, unplug extension cords and double-adapters and don’t forget to turn off any wall thermostats.
When it comes to leaving a light on when you’re not at home, this really is a personal preference. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your home dark for the entirety of your trip, consider setting room lamps on a timer, or ask a friend to come by and turn some lights on regularly.
It isn’t necessary to turn off your refrigerator when you go away, however, if you are gone for a long time, then consider removing food items, unplugging your fridge, and leaving the door open to prevent mould and mildew. Put an open container filled with baking soda inside your fridge to help to absorb odours. Likewise with your freezer – you might want to take this as an opportunity to clean it out and defrost it.
3. Clean it up
Would you want to return from a fun and relaxing holiday to a house full of unwelcome odours and bugs? You can prevent this by removing perishable food from your fridge, making sure everything in your pantry is sealed, and by cleaning dishes, chopping boards and wiping down all bench tops. Don’t forget to empty rubbish bins in the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms, and empty any recycling or garbage disposal units.
Another way to prevent unwanted odours is by opening cupboards in bedrooms, the laundry, hallway, or garage before you go away. This will help to prevent closets and their contents from developing a musty smell, particularly when your house is closed up for extended periods of time and lacks regular air flow.
Whether you’re going away for a short or long period, it doesn’t take long for the harsh Canberra summer to impact the health of your lawn and garden. Just before you go away, move pots into shady areas. If you have a relative, friend or neighbour coming by to check on the house, ask them to water your plants first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon just before sunset for the best water absorption. If you don’t have anyone looking after your garden then give your lawn and garden a good watering before you go away, and if you have a watering system, set a timer to give your lawns and gardens the best chance of surviving the sweltering weather. If you are going to be away for a long time, consider hiring someone to mow your lawn and tend to your garden to keep it in the best possible shape.
5. Mail and deliveries
If you’re going away for a week or more, it’s more than likely that your letterbox, front lawn and driveway will fill up with letters, catalogues and newspapers. Before heading off on holidays, put your newspaper delivery on hold and request that your local post office holds onto your mail until you return. If you have any other regular deliveries, especially food items, pause or redirect them, or ask a neighbour to pick them up for you.
6. Smoke detectors
Before you go away, check that all of your home’s smoke detectors are working and ensure that they have fresh batteries. If they’re not working, then replace them before going away. While you might not be home to hear the alarm go off, your neighbours might, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.