Whether your home for the holidays is an exotic beach cabana, a cosy tent and caravan in the bush, or the simple pleasures of rest and relaxation at your very own ‘home sweet home’, make sure you take care of these important safety tips for a well-deserved break:
Aon South Africa, a leading insurance brokerage offers some sage holiday advice:
Before you leave your home:
Spare keys: Leave a spare set of keys, as well as a contact address and phone number with a trusted neighbour or nearby family member in case of an emergency, such as a fire, a burglary or re-setting your alarm.
Test your alarm: Do a little test to see how responsive your security company is. Make sure you notify them or your neighbourhood watch that you are going away.
Appoint a reputable house-sitting service: They will be able to keep tabs on your property and to switch on lights, feed pets, clear post boxes, water plants and put out rubbish bins on collection day. If you are not appointing a house sitter, ensure you lock windows and doors, close all taps tightly, turn off the geyser and set your security alarm system. Cancel any newspaper subscriptions at least 10 days before your leave.
Online bookings: With cyber scammers widening their nets, make sure that you thoroughly vet any online bookings you make for accommodation and travel. You don’t want to discover that you’ve been scammed a week before your departure, with your deposit and any hope of finding alternative options going up in smoke.
All risks cover: Check that all the items travelling with you on holiday such as tablets, cell phones, cameras, designer sunglasses, luggage and so on are covered under your All Risks insurance on your household contents policy. If you have household insurance, you should consider getting one.
Medical aid: Don’t forget your medical aid card, as you never know when a medical emergency may arise. Also, check how your medical cover will respond outside of South Africa’s borders if you are travelling abroad. If necessary, top up with travel insurance, there’s nothing quite like having to pay for a medical emergency in Pounds or Euros to put a nasty dent in your holiday budget.
Roadside assistance: It’s also a good idea to have a 24-hour breakdown assist on quick dial if you’re planning a road trip.
Remember to pay your utility bill: You don’t need a power cut while you are away.
Load shedding: With the very real risk of load-shedding during December, which can increase the chances of power surges or power tripping when it comes back on, remember to disconnect computers, TVs and other sensitive equipment. Empty your fridge/freezer of all perishables – there’s nothing like coming home to a fridge filled with a rotten mess.
While you’re away for the holidays:
Stay vigilant: Of course it’s time to relax and unwind, but don’t let your guard down. Opportunistic criminals don’t take vacations and look for soft targets who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings. Make sure you properly lock up and close windows when you go out, lock your valuables like jewellery, cash and so on in a safe, and don’t leave valuables lying in plain sight.
Keep it to yourself: While the urge to share your happy snaps and details about your holiday on social media platforms may be tempting, it also provides an easy way for criminals to pinpoint your location; and more importantly, establish that you’re not at home. A quick check of your social media privacy settings will help you to be mindful of who has access to view your profile.
Christmas gifts: Arrange insurance cover on your expensive Christmas gifts such as jewellery, tech gadgets, appliances and so on – you can even inform your broker before you purchase the gifts so that your items are covered the moment you leave the store
Opportunistic crime: While on the beach, in a restaurant or any other public place, be mindful of the people around you and what you leave in plain sight. Cell phones and wallets are easy targets when left lying around, as are banking cards that are cloned or stolen when you’re not paying attention. It’s always a good idea to activate SMS notifications on your bank account so you can quickly pick up any unauthorised transactions.