Make it a safe and enjoyable holiday

2009-12-12 13:12

DOES the idea of going on a long December holiday break make you feel all giddy with excitement? Maybe your “must have” holiday items are already in your bag.

But have you thought about the property you’ll be leaving behind? Have you ensured that you and your family will be protected while away?

Alexander Forbes Insurance managing director Gari Dombo says: “If you want an undisturbed holiday with your family, secure your home and ensure that there are no gaps in your insurance cover.”

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the festive season, so make safety your number one priority these holidays.
Safeguard your home

Nothing spoils a holiday like finding out that your home has been broken into or a leaking roof has damaged your property.

Even worse is discovering, too late, that your insurance company will not pay because your insurance is not up-to-date.

In short, “there is quite a bit that you need to think about and do if you are to enjoy your well-earned break without irritation,” says Dombo.

Dombo provides the following tips:
Ensure that all the security arrangements like alarm, armed response, security doors required by your ­insurer are installed at your home.

Inform family, friends or a trustworthy neighbour of your holiday plans. Request that they switch on lights, cut the lawn, feed pets and remove newspapers from the driveway.

If you do not have a person staying on the premises it is often a good idea to empty the fridge and freezer, check the geyser for leaks, ensure that plugs are not left in sinks with leaking taps and switch off the main distribution box.

Some new alarm systems have a dial-in feature which allows you to switch lights on and off from anywhere in the world using your cell phone. Alternatively, use outdoor lights with day or night switches on them.

Make sure any vehicles left on the property are locked up in a secure garage.

Removing the battery, wheels or distributor is also an effective deterrent against theft.

After your home is secured, consider the security of any property you will be taking with you.

Safety for your luggage
An online survey conducted by global online travel booking service, revealed that 53% of South African travellers would rather deal with the possibility of contracting swine flu than run the risk of losing their luggage.

“Although Acsa (Airports Company South Africa) and the airlines have worked hard over the last year to curb theft and misplaced luggage, it is clear that this is still a big fear for both South African and global travellers,” says Stephan Ekbergh, the chief executive and founder of Travelstart.

In 2007 about 40 million items of luggage were reported lost globally. This figure decreased to 32 million last year.

“In South Africa about 10 000 personal items were reported lost or stolen last year, and this does not include damaged and stolen luggage.

Few passengers seem to know that if their luggage is lost, damaged or merely delayed for more than four hours, they are entitled to compensation,” says Ekbergh.

To ensure safety for your luggage, Ekbergh advises that:

Where possible, travel only with carry-on luggage and take a spare set of clothing in case your check-in luggage is lost.

Place your contact information inside and on the outside of every bag.

Customise the look of your bag to make it easy to identify.

Keep valuable items with you, preferably under the seat in front of you.

Make sure that you keep the luggage stub from your checked luggage as it is a critical piece of information to prove ownership should your luggage get lost or stolen.

Safety on holiday

Business Against Crime South Africa (Bacsa) and the South African Police Service gave these tips to ­ensure your safety at your holiday ­destination:
Keep a photocopy of the first few pages of your passport, visas and air tickets, separately from the original documents.

Beware of thieves posing as ­police officers.

Pay for purchases with a traveller’s cheque or credit card when ­possible.

Carry your bag around your neck and diagonally across your body. Do not carry it hanging over one shoulder.

Put your wallet in an inside coat or front pocket of your pants not a back pocket.

Walk actively and confidently. You must always try to make eye contact with the people around you.

Walk in well-lit busy streets and walk in a group if possible.

If you know or suspect that a ­pedestrian is following you, go to the nearest well-lit or busy area and call the police.

If you are being followed by a vehicle, never try to outrun it. Turn and walk in the opposite direction. ­React by yelling or shouting if ­possible.

Carry money or phone cards for emergency phone calls.

Hide your cellphone and do not walk around talking on a cellphone as it will distract you.

Avoid taking short-cuts through deserted areas such as parks, empty areas and passages.

Road Safety
More than 14 000 people are killed in accidents on South Africa’s roads every year. With this in mind, ER24 offer a few simple tips when travelling on long car journeys:
Wear your seat belt and make sure everyone else in the car is wearing theirs.

Do not speed or overtake recklessly. It is better to get there late than not at all.

Switch your headlights on as this increases your visibility to ­other ­vehicles.

Do not drink alcohol or take drugs. This includes prescription drugs which can make you drowsy, before or during a journey.

Do not eat heavily before or ­during a journey, as the process of ­digestion encourages sleep.

Make regular stops every two hours or every 200km.

When you take a break, make sure you go for a stroll to exercise cramped limbs and pep up circulation.

Save the contact details of your next-of-kin on your cellphone ­under ICE (In Case of Emergency) in the phone directory to make it easy to identify them.

Save ER24’s emergency number, 084 124, on your cell phone.

Vehicle safety
Before embarking on a road trip, make sure that your vehicle is in good working condition to avoid breaking down. Also avoid areas that look suspicious and park in a safe place.

Vehicles can be stolen at any time and anywhere. This is why people should avoid parking in quiet areas, whether outside your home or on holiday.

Remember the golden rule: drive immediately to the nearest ­police station or public place if you think you are being followed.

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