Many students return home at this time of year, which means you might be leaving your home unoccupied over the holidays. So now is the time to brush up on the best ways to secure your student home over the Christmas winter break. From preventing break-ins to making sure you’ve switched off hazardous appliances, we’ve got a handy checklist to help you out. So here’s our list of the top security tips for your student home, so you can feel assured and enjoy the festivities.

1. Lock all windows and doors

Sounds obvious but sometimes it can be easy to forget – especially windows. Make a quick tour around the house checking windows the final thing you do before you leave. If possible, use a key to lock them for extra security, rather than just the latches or buttons.

2. Hide valuable items

Any laptops, computers, phones, watches, etc. that you’re not taking home with you should be hidden from view. It’s always safer to take them home for the holidays, but it’s not always possible. Try to think of strategic hiding places too – rather than just your sock drawer or under the bed!

3. Unplug everything – apart from the fridge

unplugging appliances is the best way to keep home secure over christmas
Source: Canva

This is important to prevent any risk of fire. Make sure all non-essential appliances are off, such as hairdryers/straighteners, chargers, kettles, etc. Equally important – don’t unplug your fridge unless you intend to thoroughly defrost it before hand. Otherwise, you might come back to a pool of water in your kitchen.

4. Let your neighbours and landlords know

Telling your neighbour is not just polite, but important. They might offer to take out your bins on bin day and bring them back in, which tells people someone is still home. Or they might just keep an eye out and contact you if something seems suspicious. It’s also handy to tell your landlord, so they know the property is empty during this time.

5. Don’t leave bins out

Speaking of bins, don’t just leave them out for the whole two weeks. This is like advertising to people that you’re not home. Try asking your neighbour to put them out and bring them in for you. If not, just leave them and put them out on the next bin day you’re home.

6. Get a light switch timer for lamps

These can be picked up from Argos, Amazon or bargain stores. You basically set a lamp in your living room or kitchen to come on for certain times in the evening to echo someone living there. It’s a great deterrent and avoids your home being pitch black (aka empty) for the whole time.

7. Set an alarm – if you have one

House alarm
Source: Canva

If you have an alarm, make sure you set it before you leave. This is hugely off putting for potential thieves, and sends a signal to neighbours. If you don’t have one, consider talking to your landlord and asking if they’ll pay for one. It’s advantageous for them as well.

8. Try fake window stickers

If you don’t have an alarm or security system, just fake it til you make it. You can buy stickers to put in windows that warn onlookers there is a camera or alarm in place. You can also get warnings about dogs, such as “Beware of the Dog” to further thwart burglars.

9. Think about what you post on social media

Although you shouldn’t feel the need to censor yourself while having fun at Christmas, being mindful about online posts is one of the best ways to secure your home. Maybe turn off your location settings for example, so that people don’t know where you’re posting from.

10. Turn off taps

This is a huge one to save potential damage to the home. Make sure all taps are screwed as tightly as possible to avoid potential leaks or floods. It’s also better for the planet and your water bills too!

11. Sign up to Royal Mail’s Keepsafe

Signing up to Keepsafe services tells Royal Mail to keep your letters and parcels til you’re back home. You can apply online and specify the dates. This avoids piles of mail when you get home, and keeps everything safe til then.

12. Empty fridge and bins

Empty fridge before leaving home
Source: Canva

The worst thing about returning home – when you’re probably already feeling a bit of post-holiday blues, is the smell of old trash. So do your future self a favour and take them out beforehand. Consider emptying the fridge too so you’re not greeted with mould and gone-off food.

13. Turn heating off (or down)

Discuss with flatmates whether or not you’re going to keep the heating on. Keeping the house at a minimum level can help prevent pipes from getting frozen and condensation from building up. However, this may not be worth it if you’re away for just a short while. With the cost of energy bills at the moment, you may want to just turn it off. Whatever you do, don’t leave it at 20C when no ones home.

14. Take all sets of keys

Make sure each flatmate takes their set of keys with them. If there are any issues with break ins, you don’t want any keys to go missing too! It’s also useful to have someone to ask if you return back to the student house after Christmas, and find you left your key back home.

15. Close curtains and blinds

Finally, make sure you close all curtains and blinds so nosey onlookers don’t get a peak inside. If you have a light on a timer in the hall way, you could potentially leave top curtains ajar so you can see the light from the street but can’t see in.

Try not to worry too much about your home. Christmas is the time to relax, unwind and enjoy a well-deserved break. Make the most of your time at home and enjoy going to festive events or themed markets, without worrying about your belongings. Hopefully these tips will make you feel less worried, offering you the best ways to secure your home over Christmas. So tick them off, then focus on having fun.