I doubt I’m alone in travelling at Christmas. I’ve been visiting family – either mine or my husband’s for about 17years…wow that seems like a long time, surely I’m not that old?! I moved out at 18 and never moved back in, I’ll let you do the maths there.
So the flights and car hire are booked and I’m ready to go. Well almost. The joy of sorting out the house before we leave is a necessary evil, I thought I’d share some of my tips to help get you through it and for looking after the house while it’s empty.
So there are 3 big risks when you’re not there – well 3 you have some control over. Gas, electric and water. For our gas, we cut almost all of the heating apart from 15/30mins in the morning and the same late at night. Just to make sure we don’t end up with frozen pipes or anything odd happening. Electric, all unnecessary plugs are turned off. Water, one we don’t worry about too much as we live half way up a block of flats, so assuming it’s all OK for everyone else, it should be all good for us too. Always wise to check for running taps and confirm the loo stops refilling after a flush. Bit of a random one, but if you’re in an area with a rat problem, put something heavy on top of your loo. Just in case.
Generally the day before, I try to give the place a proper clean. There’s nothing worse than coming back to a mess, it’s bad enough coming home with laundry to do. So check your fridge for anything that might go out of date while you’re away, then empty the bin. No one needs to come home to an overwhelming smell of rubbish. Nope, no thank you! Go empty the bin people.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m always nervous about leaving the house, I watch waaaaay too much crime drama. Plus it’s Christmas, prime time for burglars to take advantage of empty homes, extra gifts and the general merriment. I always imagine the cartoon burglar breaking in and stealing everything, only for us to arrive home to a barren wreck. In the past I have left radios on, or put the Christmas lights on timers. Think Home Alone, all of the houses on timers, that. These are handy options if you’re nervous.
However, I recently discovered something a wee bit snazzy! Smart home security. I work in tech, so I’m always interested in the latest gadgets and there has been a fair amount of chatter about these types of products. From various reviews, Panasonic seems to be the easiest to set up and pair etc. With these products, for example this Home Safety Starter Kit Plus you get a hub, a window/door motion sensor, motion sensor and a siren. Of course you can always buy another Panasonic motion sensor* if you wanted to increase your coverage. So you can monitor your house / flat on your smart device and get an alert if any of the sensors go off – pretty snazzy pants! You can also get smart plugs, so you can turn them on/off from your smart device of choice! OK so I’m getting totally sucked down a rabbit hole here, but you could even get a camera and things like that, it’s all so cool. You get the idea though, it’s a handy way to keep an eye on the place and take a bit of the worry away. Almost like having an electronic guard dog. Make sure you change the usernames and passwords on your admin for these sorts of devices, no point leaving that wide open.
If you have a trusted neighbour, it’s worth just asking them to keep an eye on your house and when you’re expected to be back. If they hear the siren from the snazzy kit, they can ring the police. Between neighbours and sirens, chances are the bad people will be scared away with minimal damage. Hopefully anyway!
Last tip, don’t forget the husband/child/wife/friend. We do not need Home Alone re-enacted, I mean come on people, how many times did they forget the child? It must have cost a fortune in therapy.
* This post was created in collaboration with Panasonic.