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Staying Safe at Home

Follow our advice to make sure your home stays secure whether you're at home or away.

Staying Safe at Home

Your home is your castle, your sanctuary and probably also your biggest investment. That’s why it’s so important to keep it secure whether you’re at home or away travelling. It’s also vital that you keep yourself safe and secure in your home at all times.

One aspect of securing your home is to take out the right insurance policy so that you can cover any damage to the building itself and also protect your belongings from theft, or from a disaster like a flood or fire.

But just claiming on your insurance isn’t the solution. It means the fuss of replacing everything and paying higher premiums in the future. Prevention is most definitely better than the cure. Here are the essential steps to staying safe at home.

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Staying safe from crime

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Criminals almost always go after the easiest targets, so by taking just a few steps to make your home safer, you can make it much less likely you’ll fall victim.

Here are some of the best ways to keep safe: 

1. Secure your boundaries

It may sound obvious, but keeping your doors locked is the best way to keep opportunistic burglars out. That includes locking the front door when you’re in the garden, and keeping sheds and garages safely locked up. It’s especially important to keep outbuildings secure if they contain ladders and tools that would help someone break into your home.

Also, make sure that your fences and gate are in a good state of repair. Strong fences are an extra defence in themselves, but they do more than that. If a burglar is looking for a property to break into then the one with old, weak fences will look like an easier target.

2. Don’t leave temptation on display

Many burglaries are opportunistic and so hiding anything tempting is important. Keep car keys out of sight, don’t display Christmas presents under trees, and don’t put packaging for your expensive purchases right next to the bin (especially not outside); always think about what you’re showing someone snooping around.

It’s often convenient to leave your purse or wallet sitting with the car keys on a surface next to a door or window, but by doing so you’re almost making it too easy for a burglar to snatch them.

3. Install a safe

If you have items of particular value then consider buying a safe for extra protection and attach it securely to a solid surface. These have come down in price and are a great additional level of security for smaller precious items and documents.

4. Buy a new-build property

One of the benefits of buying a new home is that they are usually built with the latest security measures in mind. Older properties may have weaker windows, doors and locks, while a newly constructed property will be built to the latest building regulations and so will often be harder for a thief to gain entry to.

Most of our new build properties come equipped with a number of security measures designed to keep you safe at home, including:

  • Keyless Egress door locks which do not require keys to unlock from the inside making for a quick exit in the event of an emergency
  • Windows fitted with locks that require a key and lockable fire escapes
  • Carbon monoxide & smoke detectors installed in the most effective places in the home
  • Burglar alarms that include infra-red detectors, remote control touch pads and panic buttons available as an optional upgrade

It’s also important to note that many new build developments are built and plotted with safety and security in mind. This includes high levels of visibility from homes, as well as the streets being designed to keep speed to below 20mph.

5. Install lighting

A lot of burglars take advantage of the darker days of winter, so installing security lights can make their task harder and could be enough to put off a casual thief. The Met Police say that burglars are much less likely to break into a home where there is external lighting.

6. Join (or set up) a Neighbourhood Watch scheme

If your local area is signed up to an official Neighbourhood Watch scheme then your home will be safer, thieves should be deterred by the signs and your home insurance premiums will be reduced.

Staying safe from disaster

You can make sure your home is protected from thieves but there are also steps you can take to keep yourself and your possessions safer from disaster. Here are a few top tips:

1. Get a fire check

Many local fire stations will send out their staff to check your home for fire risks. They will also be able to offer advice on avoiding the main fire threats, including smoking in bed, candles by curtains, unsafe cooking and overloaded plug sockets.

2. Check your fire alarm

Most new-build homes will usually have fire alarms that are wired into the mains with a battery backup, and so are much safer, and they include but it’s still important to check yours is functioning properly. Regular tests can save lives and an estimated 35 people die each year because their alarms weren’t working.

It’s important that you buy and install fire extinguishing equipment, specifically in kitchens and where they may be a large amount of electrical equipment. 

3. Know your flood risk

You can find out how at-risk you home is from flooding by visiting the Government’s official flooding page. This will tell you how likely flooding is in your area, meaning you can prepare properly. You will also be able to sign up for flood alerts, giving you extra warning if disaster is coming.

4. Make a flood plan

If there was a flood you could save more of your belongings and keep your family safer by having a plan in place. Know in advance what furniture and supplies you’d whisk upstairs, decide where you’d take your car to park it on higher ground and keep money, insurance documents, essential medication and important phone numbers somewhere safe where water cannot reach them.

Know how and where to turn off gas, electricity and water supplies so that you can do so if there is a flood – but obviously only ever do that if it is safe to do so.

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Staying safe when you're away

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Leaving your home for a holiday will usually not invalidate your insurance policy. You should check the small print of your specific insurance but most providers allow the property to stand empty for 30 days without any lapse in cover.

If you’re going away for longer than that then it’s a good idea to consider empty home insurance to keep your home covered in your absence.

However, if you’re just away on a holiday then here are a few steps you can take to keep your home safe.

1. Don’t share it

It’s exciting to get away and the temptation to post photos and details all over social media can be strong. But it can also be an easy way for thieves to identify an empty house and target it for a burglary.

Either consider postponing sharing your photos until your return, or make sure your social media accounts are locked down so that only people you trust will be able to see your holiday photos.

2. Make it look like you’re in

The vast majority of burglaries take place when the homeowner is away, so you need to make it look like you’re in. Leaving the hall light on isn’t fooling anyone; you need to be cleverer than that. For around £10 you can buy timer switches, which can turn your TV and lights on at different times of the evening.

3. Get your neighbours to help

You could also ask a neighbour to park on your drive while you’re gone, as well as to clear away any post stuffed in full letter boxes or anything that gives away that the house is empty.

4. Curtains won’t fool anyone

Don’t assume that you can create the illusion of a busy bustling home by simply drawing some of the curtains – it won’t fool anyone. In fact, leaving the curtains drawn during the day can actually be quite a giveaway that you’re away. You’re better off using light timers.

5. Get the Postman on board

If you’re going away for a lengthy period and you’re worried that the post will pile up and give your absence away, or that parcels will be returned to sender, you can pay Royal Mail to hold onto your post until you return. Ask at the Post Office about the Keepsafe service.

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