Make sure your home is safe in holidays

Make sure your home is safe in holidays

MAIN IMAGE: Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT; Shaun Rademeyer, Chief Executive of bond originator BetterLife Home Loans

Staff writer

With the December holidays just around the corner, many people will be thinking about those holidays they have booked for themselves. There are a couple of things that they should remember about home security systems, and the tests that should be done.

These tips will help people pick up any technical problems that need to be fixed and help prevent you from only discovering big technical problems as you walk out the front door.

Why do homeowners neglect to make sure their home security is up to its job while they are away? Just like your car, your home security system performs a vital function in keeping your family and possessions safe.

Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT, says regular maintenance can help to avoid a last-minute panic to get a technician out should you need one to fix a faulty piece of equipment.

Assessing your security system and getting any problems dealt with by a professional technician from your security provider should be done at least three weeks before you go away.

“Your security system is only as effective as its weakest component. If you have invested in a home security system, you must make sure it is always functioning properly. One of the biggest benefits of having a quality security system is peace of mind, so you need to know it will not let you down when you need it most,” says Hattingh.

While security systems help automate the process of keeping your possessions and family safe, they cannot do all the work on their own.

It is up to homeowners to conduct regular testing and maintenance as required on these systems. This includes security cameras, the alarm panel and battery, panic buttons, electric fence, motion sensors, smoke alarms, intercom systems and outdoor beams.

“Testing should be done even more regularly if there have been severe storms or wind (anything that could disrupt the system), as are common in Gauteng at this time of the year.

“Home improvements or repair work around the house can also affect your security systems without you knowing so it is always a good idea to do the necessary checks after the project is complete,” Hattingh advises.

This could involve inspecting individual components of the system, changing the batteries, and ensuring the system parts are communicating effectively with one another – and, most importantly, with your security company’s control room.

Top 6 tips for pre-holiday security system testing:

  • Put your alarm panel (your system’s nerve centre) on test with your security company.
  • Check your perimeter for vulnerabilities, such as broken electric fencing, foliage, worn locks on gates or sensors not working on doors and windows.
  • Check all outside lights. Wind can shift lights and interfere with their effectiveness.
  • If someone is going to be staying in the house while you are away ensuring your remote and fixed panic buttons are working and that person knows what to do in an emergency.
  • Ensure cameras are in the right position and recording as they should be.
  • Inform your security provider if you are unsure about anything or feel your security could be compromised due to a faulty system.

“Your alarm activation is our call to action to ensure you receive the right help when you need it most. Therefore, it is so important to know your security systems are functioning properly and especially when you are away from home,” Hattingh concludes.

Shaun Rademeyer, Chief Executive of bond originator BetterLife Home Loans, agrees that home security is  a significant concern for most homebuyers, but it is sometimes overlooked in the hustle and bustle of moving. Special care should be taken if you moved into a new premises.

Here are some tips he recommends for peace of mind during the festive season holidays:

  • Change the locks. You don’t know who the previous owners might have given spare keys to, so it’s best to start afresh. Before moving into your new home, replace all the existing exterior locks and make sure all the keys are in your possession.
  • Ensure that all sliding doors and windows have sturdy burglar bars or security gates and fit correctly in their frames. You may also want to install safety chains and spy holes on solid doors.
  • If there is no alarm system, have one installed before you move. Then, change the security codes and passwords.
  • Ensure the alarm system has an exterior siren to alert neighbours and passers-by if the alarm goes off. Burglars know that the police or security companies can’t respond that fast if they trigger the alarm, so they make sure to be in and out quickly. However, they may be deterred by the fear of having other witnesses.
  • If your new home already has CCTV, check that the system is working. In addition, you might consider installing a camera security system linked to your Smartphone before you move in, as these have proved to be strong burglar deterrents.
  • Check to see how vulnerable the property is. Then, stand outside and imagine how you would get in if you were locked out. The first thing you think of is probably how a burglar will get in. It would help if you addressed these safety concerns before moving in – whether it’s a branch hanging over the wall or a garage door without a lock.
  • Install lights. Criminals don’t want to remain unseen, so make sure the whole property is well-lit at night. You can also set timers to turn interior lights on and off when you are away to create the illusion that someone is home.
  • Don’t leave furniture or belongings in the front garden or on the pavement in full view when you move.
  • If possible, hang curtains or blinds before you move in so that the layout of your furniture and the location of your belongings aren’t visible from the outside.
  • Introduce yourself and your family to your new neighbours as soon as possible and join the local neighbourhood watch if there is one.
  • Before moving, check your household insurance policy to see what it covers and what changes you might need to make. It’s also a good idea to mark any valuables by engraving them with your ID number. Make a habit recording of all their serial numbers and take photos of jewellery, watches and other unique items like coins and artwork so that they can be easily identified if thieves are caught with them or try to sell or pawn them.

“Remain security conscious even after the move. For example, don’t leave any ladders, tools, or equipment out in the garden, as these could tempt opportunistic thieves to gain access into your home. Likewise, don’t leave a spare key under plant pots, rocks, or doormats. Instead, ask trusted neighbours to take care of them if you need to give access to friends or family members while you are not at home,” Rademeyer advises.

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