Getting ready for an extended stay away? Here’s how to make sure your house and garden stay safe, secure and in good shape while you’re on hols.
Whether you can get away for a week or a month, it’s great to recharge for the year ahead and celebrate the one you’re leaving behind. Taking care of the home front before you leave means you’ll keep that relaxed feeling alive as long as possible when you get back from your trip.Here’s our cheat sheet to make sure your home is as safe and secure as possible.
Take care of the paperwork
Ensure all your services continue to stay connected while away (though you should ask your internet service provider about skipping a month of Wifi if you’re gone long enough and none of your other services require it.) You could pay extra in advance (most will give you an estimate if asked), or you could set up auto debits. This is also a good time to check your home and contents policies – not just that they’re up to date, but that they still provide adequate cover for your goodies and home and the best value.
Make your interior pest proof
Aside from coming home to an oasis of calm, cleaning before you go can help prevent any tiny intruders moving in. “The last thing you want in your home is pests and as the weather warms up you’ll definitely start to see more cockroaches, ants and other pests around,” says Stuart Tucker, Chief Customer Officer at hipages. The best approach is to take it room by room. Clear out cupboards and give skirting boards a good dust down. Cockroaches love water and need it to survive, so ensure your taps aren’t leaking. When you hit the kitchen, go through your cupboards and ensure all food is securely sealed and there are no crumbs or spills to keep pests well fed. Empty the fridge down to the bare basics (if you set an alarm for an online food shop pre-return, you can have your staples and a couple of meals delivered the day you return.) And if you’re still worried, it may be worth getting your house professionally treated for pests before you take off.
Get your garden ready
Keep your gardens alive by mowing and pruning everything back (leave the mowing until the day before you go if you’ll be away for a while or organise for a mowing service to come while you’re away – lawns ideally need to be mowed every 7–21 days to a height of 10–20mm in summer.) Get your soil in tip top shape by applying a soil wetting agent and plenty of fertiliser or mulch to help it stay hydrated. Set your reticulation to water before 9am or after 6pm on your watering days to ensure the moisture soaks through the roots, and if you don’t have reticulation, use sprinklers and automatic timers on your taps – give them a trial run for a week before you go so you’ll have a chance to iron out any issues.
Keep your home secure
Doing an inventory of locks on all doors and windows is also a good idea pre-holiday. Security screens are also a great option to consider, and if you’re not a very handy person, you can source a local expert (many of whom can make recommendations and install the best security options for your home.) If you’re a fan of technology, Brad Little, Vice President and Managing Director, Arlo Technologies, recommends installing a wireless HD security camera system allows you to keep an eye on your property 24/7. You can also use them in conjunction with a security light – you’ll get an instant notification your smartphone of any motion, and can be turned on or off via voice commands such as Amazon Alexa. “Don’t forget the shed and garage – they are rarely connected to any existing property alarm system, as the value of tools and garden equipment is often overlooked. You can install a wireless security camera fairly easily and be notified of any movements,” Brad says. Stuart recommends using timers on interior lights, have your mail collected and using sensor lights on the exterior as an added distraction. “Plants can act as a great deterrent to intruders. Spikey varieties such as bougainvillaea, yuccas or date palms are our top three suggestions for around your home,” Chris says. Let neighbours know you’ll be away so they can keep an eye out (and they may have children happy to empty your letterbox and bring your bins in for a little extra pocket money!)
Be prepared for all kinds of weather
“Before you leave for any extended period of time, it’s important to prep your home for the worst weather, especially bushfires or storms,” says Tucker. You can hire a professional on-demand to clean out your gutters and prune back trees close to your premises, which will help reduce the potential damage which could be caused to your home. Keeping windows and doors free from overhanging foliage is also a good security measure, reducing dark spots burglars can use to stay hidden in the dark. “It is really important to store flammable liquids and materials such as recyclables, timber and firewood well away from the house. Consider buying a hose that extends to the perimeter of your property that could be used to put a spot fire out,” Stuart says. “If you have a swimming pool, consider buying a portable pump so pool water can be used to put out a spot fire as well, but only if it is safe to do so. Always heed the advice of your local fire service.”