Dubai: Don’t spoil your overseas summer vacation by not sorting out your home before you head to the airport.
The worst that can happen to expatriates returning from vacation is to see valuables stolen, their favourite piece of furniture destroyed due to a leaking water pipe, or their utility bills going through the roof.
These problems can be avoided by proper planning, which could entail obtaining insurance to getting someone to actually keep an eye on your home.
Here’s a quick checklist from authorities and international agencies to keep your house safe from burglars, and to ensure that your utility bills don’t skyrocket.
1) Get home contents insurance
Anything could happen in your absence. Insuring the contents of your home is the most practical way to protect your valuables from natural and man-made disasters whether you’re there or not. Unforeseen circumstances such as fires, floods and burst water pipes among other problems can easily make your home uninhabitable, or damage parts of it. For a minimum of Dh225, you can obtain insurance coverage of Dh75,000 and rest assured that if thieves break in to steal your TV or iMac, or if a leaking water tank damages your expensive carpet, you won’t have to shell out a dirham. No unnecessary expense means no headache.
2) Home Safety programme
By registering for Dubai Police’s Home Safety programme for free, residents going on a long vacation can ensure that the police keep an eye on their villas or apartments when patrolling the neighbourhood.
The easiest target for burglars is an empty house. Dubai Police in 2015 received as many as 289 reports of house burglaries, down from 333 in 2014.
Having police visibility in the area sends a strong message to people with ill intent and keeps them at bay.
Residents can apply for the free service by contacting Dubai Police on 901, or by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional protection, Dubai Police also advise residents to keep jewellery and other valuables in bank safe deposit boxes
3) Stop subscriptions while you’re away
Stop delivery of mail, or subscriptions while you’re away. If this is not possible, ask a friend or a relative to come and pick-up the mail, or newspapers, regularly.
A pile of uncollected mail and newspapers gives the idea that there is no one home.
4) Get a ‘house sitter’
If you can find a pet-sitter, or someone from trusted agencies who can come over to take care of your pets in the comfort of your own home, you can also hire ‘house sitters’.
There are options online to get house sitters who can come to check on your house and make sure your abode remains its its best condition despite your absence.
5) Lawn maintenance
There are a variety of automatic sprinklers in the UAE to keep your lawn sufficiently watered. Also, lawns grow slower during summer than in normal months. If you’ll be gone for two weeks, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Otherwise, gardening services are available in the city.
6) Disconnect and shut off
According to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), devices and appliances account for between 5 to 10 per cent of your electricity consumption even though they are turned off. It’s better to unplug them to be safe. Also, shut off indoor water valves and check for any leaks in water pipes before leaving the house. On average, one in five toilets have a leak, according to Dewa. Toilets account for up to 30 per cent of indoor water use in a household.
7) Keys, doors and windows
Finally, secure all doors and windows, even gates. Remove all spare keys hidden in your house. Lock all your vehicles and never leave your keys in the ignition.