7 things to do at home before you go away

Summer is the peak season for home burglaries and fire danger. So before you head off for a break, there are a few key things you can do around your home to give you that extra piece of mind while you’re away.

1. Try to organise a house-sitter.

Crooks scoping out places to rob look for homes that appear unoccupied. So the best solution is to get someone you trust to house-sit for you while you’re away. Ask family, friends or work colleagues if they know of anyone suitable who might be a willing house-sitter. Always meet the person beforehand, ask for references and get them to provide a CrimCheck.

2. Recruit a neighbour to create activity around your home.

If you can’t get a house-sitter then asking a neighbour you trust to help make your place look active while you’re away, is also a great idea. Ask them to do things like water your garden, open and close blinds, clear out your letterbox, park their car in your driveway, hang clothes on your washing line and put your wheelie bins out, and bring them in again, on bin day.

3. Consider investing in an smart camera that interacts with your phone,

While security cameras and CCTV alone, are more useful for catching burglars, than preventing them from breaking in, wireless camera doorbell systems which you can interact with via your smartphone, can be handy. If someone rings your doorbell, while your hanging out on the beach, you get a notification on your phone, can see live video of who it is via the app, and can even talk to them, making it seem like you’re at home. Check out the great range of wireless security systems available through our partner RACV.

4. Set up timers for your lights, radio and television.

Setting up timers to turn lights, a radio or your TV on and off at relevant times during the day and evening, can help make it seem like someone is at home. Try to set them to times when those rooms and appliances are usually being used. And mix it up if you can. Talk stations are better than music stations. Many modern homes have smart systems which allow you to program this sort of thing. Or you can get a range of 24/7 timers at your local hardware store that plug into your standard electrical power points.

5. Secure skylights, access holes and pet doors

Opportunistic thieves will look for sneaky ways to enter your house, if they’re confident you’re not at home. Burglars have been known to squeeze through pet doors, enter through skylights or gain access via the manhole in your roof. Always make sure these can be secured from the inside with keyed locks, lockable bolts and toughened glass.

6. Clean out your gutters.

A well prepared home is more likely to survive an ember attack from a nearby grass or scrub fire. Take time now to clean your gutters of leaves and twigs, install metal gutter guards and repair missing or damaged tiles on your roof. Even urban areas are at risk, particularly those near grasslands or bush. The CFA has more information on how to prepare your property for bushfire.

7. Check external sensor lights are working

Having external sensor lights around front and rear entry points, sheds and garages, can help deter a would-be thief. If you already have them, test them before you go away – make sure the globes and sensors are working and that they’re lighting up the right area. If you don’t have sensor lights, consider installing some around your front entry and driveway.

Do our free How Safe Is My Place self-assessment to find out where your home might be vulnerable to break in. It only takes 10 minutes, you’ll get a personal report and learn some simple things you can do to make your home more secure.