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Tips to help you avoid a Nightmare Before (or after) Christmas!

Tips to help you avoid a Nightmare Before (or after) Christmas!


No-one likes a Scrooge, but we think it’s important to stay protected whilst enjoying the festivities.  So we have put together some useful tips to help things stay merry and bright!

Home Alone?

According to experts, the risk of burglary increases by almost 40% in the run up to Christmas.  One factor is the higher number of homes left empty as people travel to visit family or go on holiday.  Additionally, the display of decorations and the accumulation of gifts in homes can attract the attention of potential thieves, and the darker nights also make it easier for them to operate discreetly.

  • Lock doors and windows before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Set timers for lights to give the illusion that someone is home
  • Avoid sharing travel plans on social media, as this information can be exploited by burglars
  • Keep valuable items, such as jewellery and electronics out of sight.
  • Inform trusted neighbours if you are going away
  • Dispose of packaging for expensive items discreetly

Avoid a Firehouse Christmas!

Real or fake, these tips and reminders should keep you Rocking around your Christmas Tree 

  • Turn off and unplug all lights overnight, or when you leave your property, as they could start a fire.
  • If your tree is artificial it should have a flame resistant label which indicates the tree will resist burning and be extinguished easily.
  • Ensure you have a sturdy base and spread decorations evenly to prevent the tree falling over.
  • Your tree should be placed away from fireplaces, radiators, heater vents, TV sets, exits and any escape routes.
  • Check your tree lights for frayed wires or loose connections, which could cause a fire.
  • Flammable decorations should not rest against light bulbs
  • Ensure there is a clear space between the top of the tree and any ceiling or wall light fittings.
  • Water your tree regularly, to prevent the tree from drying out.
  • Avoid sharp or fragile decorations if the tree is in reach of young children or animals.
  • Keep candles away from flammable materials and never leave them unattended. Don’t move candles once they are lit and don’t leave them near open windows.
  • Check your smoke alarms – test them and replace batteries if needed.

Baby it’s cold outside!

Winter is the cosiest time for spending quality time at home.  We’ve put together some tips to help you to stay warm, save energy and prevent costly repairs.

  • Check your boiler pressure The gauge  on the front of your boiler should be between 1 – 1.5 bars.  Lower pressure may mean you have lost water from the system, and higher pressure can be rectified by bleeding the radiators to remove air from the system.
  • Bleed your radiators This simple task should ideally be done once a year to make sure the radiators are heating up efficiently.  If your radiators are cold at the top and hot at the bottom, bleeding your radiators should rectify the problem.  This should help also save you money on your energy bills as you will feel the heat much quicker.
  • Prevent frozen pipes Wrapping your pipes with insulated tubing will help to reduce heat loss from your heating and hot water system and helps prevent water freezing inside pipes, which could cause them to burst.  This is especially important for boiler condensate pipes, which run from a boiler to the outside of a building.  Also focus on pipes that take hot water from your boiler or cylinder to your hot water taps.
    In the event that you have a frozen pipe, turning off the water temporarily can help prevent burst pipes. The stopcock is often found under your sink. You can defrost a frozen condensate pipe by pouring warm water along the pipe or by holding a hot water bottle against the frozen part of the pipe. Once defrosted, your boiler should start working again.
  • Service your boiler As well as making sure your boiler is running efficiently, this could prevent issues from occurring, meaning you’re not left in the cold whilst your boiler is fixed, or waiting for a new boiler to be installed.
  • Get your chimney professionally swept Sweeping will not only improve the efficiency of your chimney or flue but help to prevent chimney fires, ensuring any potential blockages and soot build-up are removed.Your chimney sweep should provide you with a certificate on completion, which is key to household insurers should you ever be in the unfortunate position of claiming for a chimney fire.
  •  Check your roof Cracked or missing roof tiles can lead to leaks and they can even invalidate your home insurance if improper upkeep leads to weather damage.  You should be able to do a visual check from the street or from a neighbouring property.  If not, call in the professionals.
  • Clean your gutters Clearing out the gutters regularly prevents a multitude of problems, from seeping damp to major leaks.  Take a look outside when it rains to make sure water is running along the gutter and down the downpipe, and not running down the walls…heat is lost much quicker through damp walls than dry walls.
  • Insurance Property maintenance is essential for insurance purposes, as insurers will exclude general wear and tear or neglect.It’s important to ensure that all valuables are covered by the correct level of insurance. Some insurers automatically increase your sum insured around Christmas to accommodate extra items you may have in your home. Levels of additional cover over the Christmas period will vary from one insurer to the next and can have all sorts of conditions attached, so you should read your policy documents carefully or, if you are an Alexander Swan client, please contact us to check your cover. If you’ve bought someone an expensive present for Christmas, i.e. a watch or jewellery in excess of your policy value limits you should notify your insurance broker.