How to protect your home while away

Outside appearances matter when it comes to keeping your home secure. Make sure everything remains neat, while you are away. PHOTO/

What you need to know:

As we plan to spend time away from our homes, some malcontents are also planning to use this period to break into unoccupied homes. There are several fool-proof ways we can protect our homes even from far away.

The festive season is upon us, and in true Ugandan style there will be an exodus as people travel to spend the holidays with their loved ones.

We will also open our homes to welcome friends and even strangers to share our hospitality. This is where the problems stem from as some of these people might have more designs than just your hospitality. Here are some tips to keep your property secure even during the season.

Screen guests

This cannot be stressed enough. Take it upon yourself to find out the identity of any new face you see in your neighbourhood, especially if they look like they are canvassing your area. Ask which home they are visiting and if you can, confirm this information.

Do not announce your travel plans

In case you are leaving your home unoccupied, do not announce the fact because this will attract unnecessary attention towards the security at home.

The best practice is to at least wait until after your trip to share your partying on your social media platforms.

But if you cannot wait, before you share those photos, statuses at the airport or village, make sure your social media accounts are locked down (even temporarily), so only your friends, family and trusted associates can view your updates and see where you are.

Smart lights 

With the latest technology, there are smart lights on the market that can be timed to automatically turn on for a few hours in the evening when it becomes dark outside and off when the sun comes out. This will make would-be robbers assume that there is someone at home. There are also smart lights which are internet-connected and can be controlled remotely and scheduled to turn on and off at specific times.

Security cameras

If you do not have a fully-rigged smart security system to protect your home, you can get a few key pieces such as a window motion sensor, a video-equipped doorbell and a camera or two for indoor and outdoor spaces.

These devices can be connected to a centralised hub, linked to your Wi-Fi or can act independently. Get motion sensors that trigger an alert on your phone when movement is detected, allowing you to check in and make sure everything is alright at home.

Schedule background noise

Just as you can schedule your lights to turn on and off at your discretion, you can also use your voice assistants, including Google Home among others to play music automatically. By setting routines, you can programme your device to play playlists or a radio station at a set time or based on a particular action.

For example, you could create a playlist and programme everything to turn off at 10:30 PM. You could also change these times depending on the day, adding some variation that makes it appear someone is at home.

You can also get TV simulators that make it appear as if a TV is on. These gadgets use coloured LED lights in random patterns to mimic a TV and can be set on a timer.

Have someone regularly check your home

If you have a friend, family member or neighbour you can trust, ask them to drop in your home on a regular basis to ensure that everything is in order. Ask them to check that all doors and windows are secure and do some cleaning if possible because this activity will signal that people are home.  

Add a smart lock to your door

If you are concerned about physically handing over your house keys to your neighbours or family members, consider installing a smart lock instead. These useful little additions grant temporary access to your home using expiring codes.

By simply sending the code to your neighbour, you can allow them to enter without worrying about keys and you can cancel the codes when you are home again. This way, you can monitor who is in your home and when. 

Use alarm padlocks

Alarm padlocks come in handy lately in different sizes and prices and are some of the easiest ways to provide security in a home. The padlock has inbuilt sirens that are triggered by a touch once locked hence anti burglar.

The siren is very noisy when tempered with by thieves or intruders, thereby scaring them away. They are made with grade one stainless steel that are resistant to breakage. 

Manage outside appearances

Outside appearances matter more than you might think when it comes to keeping your home secure. A property that looks unkempt or abandoned might attract the wrong sort of attention, so before you leave, have a walk around and tidy up.

 If you are using gadgets or accessories to self-water plants, keep them hidden, as their use indicates no one is home. Make sure there are no deliveries left at the gate; either cancel them or make other arrangements.

Inform the authorities

When you plan to travel, it would be ideal if you at least informed the local security team or village defense committee about your travel plans. Inform them that your home will be unoccupied for a short period of time. This way, they may be able to check on it while out on patrol which is known as a vacation watch.

Lock up your valuables

This should be obvious, but your most treasured possessions are more vulnerable when you are not there to look after them. Just in case somebody is able to find their way through your thorough external security measures, you should always ensure that your expensive or sentimental items are locked away in a safe, hidden lockbox or other secure space before you leave.


You might focus on outside security and forget to protect yourself indoor. Before leaving the house, unplugged all appliances. Make sure all taps are firmly closed to avoid leakage and flooding. Turn the gas cooker off.  If your home has a dust issue cover all your furniture with sheets or old newspapers.