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Happy Holidays!

It is that time of the year again already...can you believe how quickly this year has gone? Many of you will be going away for the holidays and below are a few tips on what to do to minimise the worries of being away from home. It is a pity that we have to think like this, but it is a fact of life that burglary is a possibility, so rather reduce that risk.

First prize is to get a reliable housesitter who will care for yor home, your pets and your plants whilst you are away but if that is not possible then you have to make plans.

PETS: Obviously you cannot leave your pets unattended (you will be shocked at how many people do just that...just ask the SPCA). Demand for kennel space always exceeds availability at this time of the year, so plan plenty of time ahead. Remember that all your pets‘ vaccinations must be up to date and advise the kennels of any of your animals‘ special needs e.g. medication; diet; fear of thunderstorms/fireworks etc. If you cannot kennel your pets, organise a person that they are familiar with to come to your home EVERY DAY to feed and spend some time with them. Your animals, particularly dogs, will be stressed that their family is not there, so they need human companionship and attention.

PLANTS: Think about how long you are going to be away. If it is less than a week, a really good soaking MAY get your plants through, but if you are going to be away for an extended period, you cannot rely on the rains to supplement the watering that you usually do when you are at home. You can organise a temporary DIY irrigation system – it is not pretty but it is effective. Spike holes in a hosepipe or plastic tube at the intervals needed to water your most treasured plants and connect to a tap. If you have someone coming to or staying at your home, it is easy for them to turn on the tap and let it run for 30 minutes or so. Just test it before you go to ensure that it is working efficiently. There are also automatic timers available which can be programmed to water at specific times, eliminating the need for human involvemnt. A thick layer of mulch will help minimise evaporation. Indoor plants can survive on a wick watering system. Connect a large jar of water to your plant’s pot with a fairly thick, water-absorbent cord. Elevate the water jar slightly, ensuring that the wick reaches the bottom of the jar and make sure that the other end of the wick is firmly embedded in the plant‘s soil.

SECURITY: Do not advertise that you are not at home, either by a message on your answering machine; social media posts; mail and newspapers left uncollected in your mail box; or a change in the look of your house. e.g. Do not leave your curtains closed while you are away if that is not how you normally live. Invest in some automatic timers for your lights, set to operate at your normal times, so that outsiders see that the lights are being used and will hopefully assume that someone is at home. Leave a radio or TV on a timer switch programmed to mimic your usual behaviour. Notify your Neighbourhood Watch, your security company and the local SAPS of the dates that you will be away, and if you do have a freind or neighbour coming in to check on your house, make sure that the security people are aware of it and have that person’s contact details. Make sure that your alarm system is fully operational. Movement detecting oudoor lights are a great deterrent – burglars do not like to be in the spotlight. Outside beams, linked to your alarm system are even better. These are pretty sophisticated these days and will not be triggered by plant or pet movement. Consider installing movement detector sensors that are connected to your alarm system in your roof space. Entry through the roof is a popular way of gaining illicit entry to a house. Check that all security gates, doors and windows are locked. If nobody is going to be checking on your home, it is a good idea to lock interleading doors to limit access to all parts of the house. It is also a good idea to lock high-cost items in a secure cupboard or safe. (If you do not have space to do that, at least unplug all computers, TVs and chargers to prevent them being damaged by any power surges.)

All these precautions will deter potential burglars and increase the odds of you returning from your holiday to an untouched home.

All the advertisers on this page join us in wishing you a safe and happy festive season.

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