With keys in one hand and a bottle of bubbly in the other, you deserve to celebrate finding your dream home. But before you put your feet up, it’s important to carry out some key security checks – as the last thing you want is for your new property to be damaged or for your belongings to be at risk.
Aviva’s recent research indicates that 65% of UK residents say that they made changes to their home when they moved in, to ensure it was safe and secure. However, nearly a quarter (23%) of homeowners admitted to waiting five months before making any of these safety or security changes. So, it’s crucial to carry out any necessary measures as soon as possible, to protect your house and give you and your family peace of mind.
The research revealed differences between the number of younger and older residents carrying out measures to protect their homes. For example, only 15% of 18-24 year olds checked their smoke alarms, compared to nearly 70% of over 55s. No matter your age or where you’ve moved to, it’s equally important for everyone to ensure they’ve protected their new property. Aviva’s Personal Lines Managing Director Lindsey Rix, tells us that “even properties in the safest of areas can fall victim to damage or crime.” Therefore, it really is vital that all “homeowners across the country have sufficient protection in place to counter this.”
So, we spoke with Lucie Banham, Director of the Banham Security Group, to put together a range of tips to help you secure your home.
1. Fire safety checks
Government statistics report that there were a staggering 155,000 fire incidents in the UK in 2014/15. Therefore, it’s essential to identify any potential fire risks and understand what you can do to prevent or reduce these. You also need to ensure your smoke alarm is working, regularly check your batteries, and have an escape plan prepared in case a fire does break out.
2. Invest in a safe
Banham tells us “valuables that are left on show but are able to be carried out of the property and sold easily such as jewellery, phones, laptops, and iPads are easy targets for burglars.” Therefore, “a good investment is always a professionally installed safe.” Make sure you also lock away any important documents such as bank statements and passports, so these aren’t targeted either.
3. Lock up your doors and windows
It may sound obvious, but it’s really easy to forget to close all your windows and doors – especially on a hot day. Before leaving each room, make a mental note to double check that all your windows and doors are securely closed and locked behind you.
4. Hide away any tools
Don’t leave any tools such as ladders near your property, as opportunist burglars could use these to help get into your house. It’s best to securely lock them away in your garage or shed.
5. Set your alarm systems
Banham highlights that “an intruder alarm system, especially one that is monitored through to the Police, is also a great deterrent to any burglar. It’s important to make sure it’s working and you have reset all the alarm codes.” She adds that people often “don’t get round to setting up and using their alarm systems when they move home,” but it’s important to set your alarm every time you leave your house, and make sure it’s regularly serviced. This will help to ward off any thieves who try to break into your property.
6. Holiday security measures
If you’re going away, it’s a good idea to ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your home for you. You can also ask them to park one of their cars on your drive and to collect your post, so it looks like people are home. Keeping lights or a radio on a timer also gives the illusion someone is in.
7. Be wary of social media
As we post about our lives more and more frequently on social media, criminals are using this as a way to target empty properties. If you’re going on holiday, or you’ve planned a long weekend trip, be careful not to publish your plans online, as this will advertise to hundreds of people that your house is unoccupied.
8. Account for your keys
According to Banham, for “70% of burglaries the point of entry is through a door. 37% of burglars have forced entrance but 5% entered with a key.” Therefore, if you can’t account for one of your keys, or think you’ve lost it, an effective and “must-do solution is to change your locks. Often, you can just change the barrels of your locks, and using a key registration system to track how many keys have been cut will ensure your keys and your property are kept safe.” It’s also important to remember you haven’t accidentally left your key in the door!
9. Consider surveillance cameras
Installing a CCTV system for your home can help to deter potential intruders if they spot the camera outside your property.
10. Report the crime quickly
If you are unfortunate enough to become a victim of a crime in your home, such as a break-in, report the incident to the police within 24 hours so you can obtain a crime number. In an emergency dial 999, for a non-emergency crime, you can call 101.