How to keep your home safe while on holiday
Jetting off on your summer holiday and worried about keeping your home secure? Here are our top tips for using technology to safeguard your house…
See what's happening at home with a wireless security camera
Check on your home from your villa or hotel with a wireless security camera. You can view the footage via your smartphone or tablet app from anywhere in the world. When the camera senses motion, it'll start recording and send you a message with a live feed.
You can also:
• Save your footage with a memory card or online storage
• Set cameras to record for specific periods of time
• Check pets are okay (and even say hello) with a 2-way speaker and microphone
• Record through the night with night-vision cameras
You have a choice of indoor and outdoor security cameras. Both types use infrared technology to film at night, and dome-shaped ones make it harder for someone to hide as they can't see which direction the lens is pointing. There are a few differences between the varieties, though:
• Indoor cameras are usually smaller and can sit on a bookshelf or desk
• Outdoor cameras are often bulkier as they need to be harder to remove or break. They'll be able to withstand the elements, too, so no rain shower will knock it out.
Where should you point security cameras?
Using a combination of outdoor and indoor cameras, you can cover off the 5 most vulnerable points in your house:
1. Front door
2. Back door
3. Rear/side windows
4. Gardens/side gates
5. Basement stairs
Many people put security cameras too high and only capture the tops of people's heads, according to the Met Police. Keep cameras at eye level so police are able to use advanced facial recognition technology.
Get burglar alarm alerts by text or via an app
Be notified as soon as your alarm system is triggered with a phone call, text or app notification. Not only will the siren hopefully scare off the intruder, you'll also get a head-start on calling the police.
You can combine these alarm alerts with security cameras - by installing cameras that send images or video to your phone, you can see what's caused the alarm to go off.
Be savvy on social media
It's a good idea not to share your holiday plans on social media - that's the case even if you have privacy settings switched on, and you're confident in your friends and followers.
Once you're on holiday, think about who you're sharing your holiday snaps with. Wi-Fi cameras and smartphones let you upload pictures the moment they're taken. But sharing them widely lets everyone know you're not at home.
Make sure your neighbour can contact you
Let your neighbour know the best way to get in touch with you if anything happens. That could be your mobile number, your Facebook or your WhatsApp. Then, make sure you're reachable by phone or by getting mobile broadband. See our tips for avoiding hefty phone bills on holiday
Make it look like you're home with remote lighting
You can turn the lights on manually from your smartphone to have total control over when they go on. If you want to check it's worked, combine it with a smart cam that gives you a live feed of your home.
Turn down the ring tone on your phone
If you have a landline, turn the ringer volume down. An unanswered phone with a loud ringtone is a sure sign no-one is home. And if you have thin walls, it'll also really annoy the neighbours.
Set the heating to keep pipes from freezing
It's not just burglars that can wreck your home while you're away - frozen pipes can be just as much of a nuisance. It probably won't be a problem during the summer, but keep it in mind for when winter rolls around.
Most boilers will have timers, but these can be a little unreliable. Instead, control the temperature from your smartphone with a smart thermostat.
It's great if there's a cold snap, too, and you forget to set the heating to come on. And it lets you keep the home nice and toasty for any pets left behind.