For many South Africans leaving their homes for a peaceful getaway ends in tragedy and trauma, because they return to find their house cleaned out, or they fall prey to criminals at their holiday destination.
In the rush to get out of town it is imperative you do not neglect a thorough security check of your home before leaving.
“Do not leave anything to chance,” Charnel Hattingh, Head: Marketing and Communications for Fidelity ADT says. “Ensure your gate is properly closed and secured and all doors are locked and windows closed. Preferably, get a reliable person to come and turn lights on and off, open and close curtains and take care of your pets, so it looks as if someone is home.
“The most important thing is arming your alarm system and outdoor deterrents, such as electric fencing and beams. If these are linked to an armed response security provider you will be alerted on your cellphone if anything happens at home.”
She reminds clients of private security companies they can request extra patrols from for the period they are away, for added peace of mind.
Then, arriving at your holiday destination …
“Holiday accommodation spots are often targeted by criminals, because they know people are more relaxed and can be taken by surprise.”
She offers these five tips for staying safe at your destination:
1. Always speak to the establishment beforehand and ask specifically about security. Look for reviews online. Do not rely only on what their website says. Getting word-of-mouth referrals is always a good idea.
2. Take care of your valuables by locking them away in a safe or taking them with you when you leave your unit. Always lock up and close the windows securely.
3. If you are in a fairly remote area, preferably do not sit outside after dark. Bushveld fires and a little after-dinner tipple is wonderfully relaxing, but you can be vulnerable.
4. Ask the manager about panic buttons and emergency contact numbers. Remember, an emergency is not necessarily only a criminal attack – there could be a fire in your unit or a medical emergency.
5. As at home, have a plan of action in place in case your family is held up on holiday. While it is difficult to stick to a script under traumatic circumstances, it helps if everyone in the family, including children, knew what to do and not to do. And try to remain as calm as possible.