Keeping check before taking that trek

By David Light

Is it hotter this summer, or is it simply now a mandatory annual reaction to the rising mercury? Every year, we say we’re not going to be surprised by the temperature and without fail, around June, the heat hits hard. So fierce is the temptation to escape, you could put it in a leotard and call it Beyoncé. Deals flood in from airlines, including flydubai, which just opened up a direct route to the beautiful Mediterranean climes (now that the European heatwave has passed) of Naples, Italy, or further afield to the green splendour of Scandinavia, the image of which, much like John Cleese’s infamous dead parrot, has us “pining for the fjords”.

If heading abroad is too pricey, loading up the car and motoring north or east where the UAE geographical relief offers a real reprieve from the sweatiness is also becoming an increasingly popular option as a result of seasonal sales. For instance, the JA Hatta Fort Hotel is giving away rooms for Dhs369 per night at the moment.

Whether you stay or go, you’re going to be leaving your home unattended for a while and, with this extreme weather’s potential for inciting problems, you’re going to want to make sure everything remains shipshape for your return. We have all heard horror stories of the close-to-50°C haze-causing pipes to expand and burst, the strong evening breeze blowing sand and damp through a window mistakenly left ajar and the automated air-conditioning going haywire and packing in; an expensive glitch to rectify.

There are companies in Dubai, such as Succeed – Home Watch Services that look in on your manor and send you a text message recon update during your holiday. While they can provide peace of mind, the service isn’t free, which isn’t ideal for everyone.

I believe disasters can be avoided with a small dose of common sense. A simple 10-minute whip around can better ensure there are no nasty developments. Number one on the list is to modify your cooling system settings. If it’s a short weekend trip, cut it off completely. It’ll help save the environment and your money. For longer vacations, the trick is to leave it on a timer at a higher than usual setting. An AC unit does more than just lower the temperature. It also dehumidifies the air. A daily blast at 25 degrees will remove condensation and avoid mould build-up, musty smells, and peeling paint. The stress on your fridge will also be minimised as the motor is tied to a thermostat which reacts to the surrounding atmosphere.

For every other electrical appliance bar the refrigerator: Power down — it’s as simple as that. While the current drawn from a TV on standby may be minimal for example, what is the point in forking out even a fraction of your bill when it could be free? It also protects appliances from surges or shorting out and potentially starting a fire — not only devastating but an insurance nightmare deserving of its own article.

Often forgotten, turn your water supply off at the mains. This will negate any taps or, as is most common, the bidet shower coming loose and flooding the whole place in minutes. If no supply is coming in, it can’t gush out.
Finally, check if all windows are firmly shut, the fridge door is closed, the oven is off at the mains, perishables have been discarded and bung all the pot plants in a shallow-filled bathtub to give them a chance at survival. Voila, you’re ready to go and it didn’t cost you a penny!

David is an avid traveller. Give him half a chance and he’s off exploring.

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