Keep your empty home safe

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Q. Faith

Could you offer some advice on what I should do to ensure my home is okay while I am away on holiday? I usually have my niece come to stay when I go away, but this year she will be away at the same time and I don’t really have anyone else I can ask.



For your peace of mind Faith, the following tips will help to keep your home safe while you are away on holiday.

Suspend your newspaper and mail delivery, or have a friend or neighbour clear your mailbox for you every day or two. Contact Australia Post online to hold your mail for you while you’re away. They will deliver it to you the next business day after you return from your holiday.

As your usually house sitter will be unavailable, you can try researching free sites such as or

Tell your neighbours when you will be away.

The weekend before you leave, take a walk around your house with a pair of shears and cut back any shrubbery which obscures the doors or windows.

Do not post any information on social media, e.g. Twitter and Facebook, about your holiday plans.

Think about what information you include in your personal and work automated email notification. Rather than stating you are away on holiday, redirect your emails to a friend or work colleague while you are away. The less information you give away the better.

Likewise be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail. You don’t need to say you’re not home – just that you can’t come to the phone right now.

Place wood or metal rods in the tracks of your sliding doors and windows to stop someone opening them from outside.

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Buy and set up light timers throughout the house and ensure you program them to your normal routine. Check the bulbs in all your light fixtures and replace any which are not working.

Turn your alarm clocks off, turn the volume down on your phone and set your answering machine or voice mail to pick up after only one ring.

Put away any furniture, tools or toys you normally store on the porch or balcony. It’s a dead giveaway after a windy night that no one is home if items are strewn around your property.

Turn off your remote control on your garage door and lock the door between the garage and the house.

Lock all windows and doors – don’t forget the ones to your shed and/or garage.

If you leave your vehicles behind, have a neighbour or friend move them every couple of days.

Ask a neighbour to mow your lawns and rake up the leaves.

Don’t forget the rubbish and recycling bins need to go out each week to keep your house looking lived in.

Before you leave the house, unplug all your appliances (except the fridge and freezer).

Leave a key to the house and the code to your security alarm with a friend, neighbour or family member. It’s also a good idea to inform your local neighbourhood watch program if there’s one operating in your area.

Don’t leave your spare key in its usual hiding place – quite frankly the plastic rock doesn’t fool anyone! Likewise under the front doormat, in the mailbox or flower pot.

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Written by Andrea


Total Comments: 5
  1. 0

    Make sure you turn off the water pressured hose into your dish washer…. friend had her’s burst while away …. whole place flooded for over a week …son was watching the place … his watching was a drive by… he only noticed water coming out the door under the car port, to late… all the furniture had soaked up the water all the wooded furniture split etc carpets everything was ruined…

  2. 0

    We were advised by a plumber to turn off the taps to which hoses are connected for the washing machine when not in use for a few days for the same reason, not just when you are going away. I would also suggest that you get somebody to check to ensure no parcels are left on your front verandah, including by Aust. Post as the parcels are delivered from a different Aust. Post location. Over the years we minded a house where the mail had been stopped and on 2 occasions parcels had been left at the front door. Not only is it a huge security risk but in the case I am referring to it was not really sheltered and one parcel apparently had very expensive books in it.

    • 0

      Thanks, Bluebell. Regarding the washing-machine, I always
      turn off at the tap when not in use/finished. Some years ago,
      JUST came home when the hose flew off the tap and the water flooded the laundry! Very lucky. Very good idea about the parcels, thanks.

  3. 0

    Another good idea is to hang some old clothing on the clothes line, let’s people think someone is around.

  4. 0

    For me, my common practice at our Adelaide home is to have my neighbor sit my house. That is why it is important to build healthy relationships with almost all of your neighbors so that they could lend you a helping hand when in need. However, I do not expect them to spend their entire day in my house. They just need to take my mails, newspapers, and keep a lookout through their yard every once in a while. When I return, I will offer them a few bucks or cook them a dish or two for their kindness.



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