It’s the season of open windows, dusting-down bikes and jetting off on hols – but don’t forget about protecting your property, says Abi Jackson

SUMMER has a magical way of making us all feel a little more relaxed and carefree, doesn't it? When it comes to home security, however, the sunshine shouldn't be a reason for letting our guards down. In fact, there may even be a few extra things to think about during the warmer months, in terms of keeping your property and its contents safe and secure.

Whether you're jetting off on holiday, or simply going to be spending more time in the garden - or flinging windows open to let in some breeze - here are six ways to help keep your property as protected as possible.

Have a holiday home-security checklist

Lucky enough to be heading away on holiday? You'll want to do everything you can to ensure you're able to fully relax and enjoy that well-earned summer break - and this includes taking appropriate steps to maximise the security of your property while you're away.

Some people find it reassuring to install burglar alarms and security cameras, and there are lots of apps available now that help you 'keep an eye' on your home from afar, or operate lights on timers, for instance, so it looks like somebody's in. These things aside, make absolutely sure all your door and window locks are adequate. You might want to have a chat with a trusted neighbour, who can keep an eye out for you while you're away.

Watch those open windows and back doors

Nobody likes a hot, stuffy house, so of course you're going to want to have the windows open more often during summer, and if you have a back door, chances are it'll be in use more than usual too. Just don't forget to shut and lock them again if you're going out, and - perhaps depending on the set-up and location of your home - if you're leaving the room. It only takes a few minutes for opportunist thieves to sneak in or stick an arm through an open window.

With this in mind, be sensible when it comes to leaving windows open at night-time - even if you're not on the ground floor (thieves do use ladders). If you do want to sleep with the window open, look at installing security catches, so the window can't be opened more widely from the outside.

Don't keep valuables within reach

Still on the open windows theme, it's a good idea to ensure any items of potential value to a thief - laptops, phones, jewellery, car keys, wallets, etc - are kept well away from open windows at all times, even if they're only open a smidge.

Be social media savvy

Following on from the above, while we all like to 'share' our weekend jaunts and holidays on social media, in this day and age, it's wise to be cautious about how and where you're advertising the fact that your house is currently sitting empty. At the very least, make sure your Facebook profile is set to 'private' and only accept people you genuinely know and trust as your online 'friends' - that way, if you do post a snap of you with a pina colada next to a pool on the other side of the world, you know it's only good friends who'll be seeing it. Another handy hint is to be careful not to post things on Instagram and Facebook that identify your address. And if homes in your area are being targeted by burglars while people are on holiday, it might be a more reassuring move to save the status updates entirely until you're back.

Don't forget about garden toys and paraphernalia

It'd be lovely to think of our gardens as crime-free safe havens, but thieves have been known to target gardens and garden sheds during summertime - when we might be more likely to leave tools, toys and bikes lying around on the grass, or within easy access in a shed with a flimsy lock. Make sure anything of value is packed away when not in use, and especially overnight, and that all your locks are up to the task. If you're going away on holiday, it might be a good idea to take high-value items out of the shed and keep them more securely locked up in your house.

Make sure your insurance is up to scratch

Should the worst happen and you do suffer a break-in or any thefts or damage to your property, the most important thing is to that you're properly insured. This means making sure your home and home contents insurance actually covers all the things you'd hope it does, and that you're clear on any specific details or criteria which could hinder any claims you might need to make - such as information and requirements for locks on windows and doors. If in doubt, have a good chat with one of the advisors and make sure you read all the small print.