How to protect your home while you’re away

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While the last twelve months of Covid-19 restrictions have forced most people in Ireland put their vacations on hold, the vaccine roll-out now gives holidaymakers the opportunity to start planning their next getaway.

From stunning seaside locations where the cliffs dramatically meet the sea, to laid-back country escapes where the aroma of freshly baked bread from the village bakery is a highlight, you may be among the thousands of people already getting ready to pack your suitcase. 

Before you do, take time out to think about how you can protect your home from key threats such as theft, fire and flood while you’re away.

Putting a plan in place could save you a lot of time, money and angst upon your return.

Home break-ins: how to protect your home while you’re away

A burglary can feel like a real invasion of privacy and be devastating if treasured, valuable items have been stolen. There are however things you can do to help prevent theft.

  • Recruit a friend or neighbour to check in on your home. Not only can they keep an eye out for suspicious activity, they can remove any obvious signs that you’re away, such as collecting your mail, watering your plants, and opening and closing the curtains at certain times of the day and night.
  • Keep the outdoors tidy. Before you leave for vacation, remember to bring in your bins, outdoor furniture and other tools and equipment.If you are heading away for a longer period of time, consider having a gardener cut your lawn, as long grass can be a key giveaway that you’re not at home.
  • Don’t post your plans on social media. Posting about your trip on social media is a big no-no because it alerts would-be thieves to your absence. If you must let people know, be sure to adjust your privacy settings so only trusted friends and family can see your post.
  • Put your lights on a timer. Lighting is perhaps one of the best ways to create the perception someone is home.You can schedule your lights to switch on and off at specific times of the day and night using a timer switch. You will also save money on your energy bills when you use a timer instead of leaving lights on for the entire time you’re away.
  • Invest in home security: Burglar alarms and CCTV are very popular options that help keep your home safe. Burglars are less likely to target homes with effective security alarms and CCTV, making them a good investment for your home.

Flood damage: steps to follow before you leave home

Flood damage is another factor you should consider before you go on vacation, and how you can help prevent it. Whether flood damage in your home is caused by a severe weather event or a burst pipe, water can spell disaster for a home, especially if it’s left to sit while you’re away.

Before you leave home, follow these tips to help you protect your home from the risk of flood and water damage:

  • Carry out a visual inspection. Check the pipes under sinks, hoses from appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers, and toilet cisterns for cracks or leaks that can be repaired before you go away. You should also check your window seals to ensure they prevent rain water seeping in during a storm.
  • Check for exposed pipes. During the colder months, water in pipes can freeze and expand, putting pipes under excessive pressure which in some cases, causes them to burst. If you are going away in the winter time, be sure to insulate any exposed pipes before freezing temperatures set in.
  • Clear gutters and drains. Gutters and drains clogged by leaves, dirt and debris can prevent rain and storm water to flow away from your house and instead cause water leaks inside the home. Making an effort to keep your gutters and drains clear will help prevent water leaks from a build-up of water.
  • Turn off the water main. Just before you leave home, switch off appliances that use water and then turn off the mains water at the stopcock, which is usually found under the kitchen sink. In some cases, it can be found under the stairs or in a hot press.
  • Leave the heating on.This might sound counter intuitive if you’re not home, but under freezing conditions, pipes are more likely to burst. By ensuring your pipes are well insulated, and the indoor temperature is regulated, you can help reduce the risk of flooding from a burst pipe.
  • Take flood precautions. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, you can reduce the risk of damaged valuables by moving them up higher than the flood level, to your attic, if you have one. You can also fit a flood gate to your entry doors to help create a barrier against flood waters.

How to minimise the risk of a house fire while you’re away

A house fire can be utterly devastating, especially if you return from vacation to a burnt out home. There are a number of precautions you can take before you leave to help reduce the risk of a fire in your home while you are away. 

  • Plug out all unnecessary electrical appliances. If you’re going to be away, there is no need to have the television, toaster and hair dryer plugged in. Unplug all non-essential electrical appliances from their power source to prevent the risk of a fire.
  • Avoid overloading power sockets. There may be some appliances you want to leave switched on, such as your fridge or freezer, particularly if you are only going away for a short time. Before you leave, make sure power boards and sockets aren’t overloaded with electrical device plugs – in fact this should be the case even when you’re at home.
  • Check candles and fire places. Naked flames are a key source of house fires when left unattended. Always check you have extinguished naked flames, such as candles, oil burners and open fires, before you leave to go on vacation.

It is also a good idea to review your insurance policy before your getaway, and to make sure you understand exactly what it covers.

Check you have the right cover for what you need, and what is expected of you in the event of a claim. If you haven’t done so already, you should make a detailed list of your valuables and photograph them where possible, and keep this reference in a safe place should you need it down the track.

What you should do after a break-in, flood or fire

Sometimes, despite our very best efforts and precautions, disaster strikes in the form of theft, flood or a house fire. In those instances, you need support to help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible, especially if you have been away.

The team at CMG has decades of experience supporting customers who have returned home from holidays only to be faced with the upset and overwhelm of dealing with a break-in, fire or flood.

If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to call CMG first, before your insurer, because we can help you to achieve the very best settlement under your policy terms. We will make a detailed assessment of your loss, complete all your claim paperwork and negotiate with your insurer and their loss adjuster on your behalf.

We can also provide support in the aftermath of disaster, such as arranging alternative, safe accommodation if needed, or coordinating emergency repairs to make your home safe.

We can also arrange a cleaning contractor to help you with the clean-up, something no homeowner wants to face on their own, especially when just back from a vacation.

Whenever disaster strikes, CMG is right by your side to relieve you of the stress and anxiety associated with an insurance claim. For further information, or advice if you have been the victim of theft, flood or a house fire, get in touch with a member of our team on 0818 118 118 (ROI) or 028 8224 9015 (NI).

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