Chinese New Year is a time for travel, so I wanted to write 88 things you need to do before leaving your house. But that will be too long. So instead, here are just eight things in your travel checklist that will protect your property value, and you should really do them before you leave:
Make sure that the value of items in your house don’t exceed $5,000
$5,000 is the magic number because most of the time, if you read your home content insurance, that’s the maximum coverage. We know it probably said something like “coverage of up to 10 gazillion dollars” when you read the brochure or whatever, but maximum coverage for specific items are different.
This means that, if your house gets burgled and you lose $100,000 worth of jewellery, you’ll be getting $5,000 in compensation. If there’s a massive fire and your $15,000 Rolex goes missing, you’ll get $5,000 (or in some policies, just $2,500) for it. The coverage for lost cash is even lower, often along the lines of $250 to $0 (yes, you may not be able to claim for lost cash at all).
So read the terms and conditions, and make sure the total value of items in your home doesn’t massively exceed the coverage. If it does, maybe you ought to think of getting a bank deposit box.
Turn off the air-conditioner
We don’t mean pressing the remote and leaving it on standby; that’s not “off”, because the power is still going. In case you missed our previous article, air-conditioners are the main cause of electrical fires in Singaporean houses.
Why? Well if you’re past the age of 40, you know it’s because the universe is 90 per cent irony, and 10 per cent laughing at your pain. But if you want a logical reason, it’s because poorly serviced air conditioners – or air conditioners with bad wiring – tend to catch fire. This has a “drop down” effect as the unit then sets fire to anything under it, like carpets or wooden tables.
A lot of time, it happens because the power flowing into an air conditioner doesn’t ever stop. When we “turn it off”, we really just put it on standby. So protect your house and lower your power bill – grab a broom and manually jab the off button.
Put a bucket and rags under the pipes
Before you go, get a bucket and some rags. Fit them under your kitchen or toilet pipes (the bigger the bucket you can fit, the safer). In the event there’s a leak of some sort, you won’t be around to notice it. And if you’re away for a week or two, constant dripping can turn a small bathroom or kitchen into a viable water sports arena.
This is especially an issue if you have fancy wooden flooring. Coupled with our tropical weather, that’s a one way ticket to wood rot and your contractor buying a new car.
Tell the neighbours you will be away
You don’t need a CCTV. I certainly don’t, because my neighbour watches my house like he’s a socially maladjusted introvert obsessing over a Netflix series. He knows when I’m out of toilet paper.
It doesn’t have to be quite that creepy for you, but let your neighbours know you won’t be around. I’ll tell you why that’s better than just having CCTV: if your house gets broken into, or a fire starts, the CCTV won’t dial 999 and scream hysterically for help. Your neighbour might. Even better, they might smell things like a gas leak, know you’re not home, and hence save your living room from resembling the set of a Michael Bay movie.
Try to empty the fridge before you go
Have you ever seen what happens when your fridge breaks down, or the power trips, and then you open it after two weeks abroad? Until you’ve had to pick maggots out from under your fingernails, and lived with a fridge that smells so bad it would make the police check your house for missing persons, you have no idea how gross things get when a fridge breaks down for days. Remember: you live in a tropical country.
As far as possible, try to get rid of the more disposable items in the fridge; just in case it decides to go down while you’re away. Also, if you get the right home insurance, you can totally make a claim for spoiled foods.
Turn off all the wall sockets
This has the effect of saving power from “phantom loads” – there is still power flowing, even if there’s nothing plugged into a wall socket. There’s no point paying a bigger electricity bill because of the 0.5 seconds it would take to flick it off. If you’re too lazy to bend down to turn off the lower sockets, use your big toe.
Give the spare key to someone you trust
In the event the neighbours smell a gas leak, or see smoke, make sure they know to call this person. Of course, it should ideally be someone who lives nearby as well. If you choose not to do this, remember there’s only one way your neighbours can get in your house to check: prepare to replace your door or some of your windows.
In the event you do find that your house has unfortunately been the casualty of a fire, here’s what you can do.
Buy home content insurance, if you haven’t already
It take minutes to find a policy with your smartphone, and you can get it approved in a day or two. In the event something happens to your home, it’s not just about replacing your stuff; it’s about having to pay for temporary accommodation, storage of your goods, repair and renovation works, and much more. Trust me, you don’t want to face all of that without any insurance.
Besides, these days home content insurance comes with personal accident plans; some of that can be useful if you get injured abroad.
Hope this travel checklist has been helpful! Take care and have an awesome Chinese New Year!