If 2020 was a year to forget, then 2021 seems to have been a year that passed too quickly to remember. We are now only a few weeks away from the Christmas season – a time for both celebration and reflection.

We thought that it would be a good idea to provide you with some guidance to help you and your household stay safe throughout the festive season. As for many it is 'The Most Wonderful Time of the Year', we want it to be as such and wanted to give this both a seasonal and light-hearted feel, so we hope that you will find our tips both useful and entertaining.

1st Pear trees – winter brings with it both those amazing clear and crisp days, but also wind. We would advise that any trees on your property are checked, with any branches which may cause damage lopped or removed. Likewise, have your gutters checked for any blockages, to reduce the risk of water entering your property.

2nd Turtle doves – although many of our feathered friends very sensibly migrate to warmer climes at this time of year, watch for birds nesting close to sources of warmth, particularly chimneys or exhaust vents for central heating systems.

3rd French hens – or even turkey or perhaps a rib of beef. Christmas is traditionally a time to celebrate with fine food and wine. Ensure that your wine is stored correctly and away from sources of light and climatic extremes.

4th Calling birds – or any unwanted visitors. The volume of home deliveries always spikes during November and December and criminals usually increase their efforts to cheat and scam the innocent. Callers purporting to be from delivery providers/retailers combined with texts telling you that you have missed a delivery are popular tactics. Be alert and keep track of genuine orders so that you can avoid being conned.

5th Gold rings – whether you are purchasing jewellery for someone special, toys for your children, electronic devices and even the inevitable socks and slippers, many households will see an increase in gifts, many of which will be very attractive to thieves. We always advise that you make sure that you lock all doors and windows, both at night and whenever you leave your home unoccupied (this again being relevant as we all tend to visit family and friends at this time of year). You should also make sure that your intruder alarm is both working properly and set when you go out and try to keep expensive gifts (wrapped or not) out of sight of windows.

6h Geese laying – golden eggs might be on your Christmas shopping list and we recommend that your insurance policy should cover additions to your collectables if you're lucky enough to be gifted a Faberge egg or jewellery, without any fuss. If you are buying something special as a surprise, we can also ensure complete discretion when being asked to cover an item in advance of the 25th December.

7th Swans swimming – if you have an outdoor swimming pool, it is likely that it will not see much use at this time of the year. Covers should be securely fitted to avoid the risk of injury and all electrical power should be isolated where necessary to reduce the chance of short circuiting.

8th Maids milking – we return to the delicious subject of food and drink. Many of us will buy in extra supplies for family and visitors across the festive season and decorate our homes with everything from fairy lights to larger displays. It is worth remembering that this may all create extra strain on your electrical system, particularly where extension leads and cables are used. It is also sensible to keep an eye on your pets as sparkling lights and Christmas trees can be irresistible to our furry family members, creating the potential for both accidental damage and fire.

The NICEIC is the body responsible for certifying electricians and published this great article last Christmas to help you make sure that your home stays safe during the festive season. Read it here

Remember that if you do need any work done to your electrics, always engage the services of a qualified electrician.

9th Ladies dancing – few of us need an excuse to enjoy a party and Christmas is certainly no exception. After the events of the last 18 months, we are not about to dampen anybody's spirits other than to recommend that you make sure that any damage that may arise from anyone dancing, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, is insured.

10th Lords leaping – as the clocks have 'leapt' forward, the evenings become darker and this increases the levels of burglary, with the loss of property being equalled by the unpleasant notion of an intruder in your home. We have included some tips to help keep you and your property safe in our latest news roundup. Read it here. 

11th Pipers piping – as winter continues, make sure that your water pipes are in sound condition. Claims for burst pipes usually increase at this time of year and the damage this can cause is arguably outweighed by the disruption. If in doubt, employ a professional plumber to check and make any repairs that are needed. Investing in leak detection systems is also a very good idea.

12th Drummers drumming – the sound of rain drumming on your roof can either be very soothing or simply a reminder that we live in the UK. Whilst this is not the forum to be commenting on the climate, we have certainly seen increasing amounts of rain and strong wind in recent years. With this in mind, we advise that you check your roof regularly. Broken tiles, damaged flashing and general deterioration can all lead to rainwater going where it should not. Seek the services of a professional roofing company to check and repair any areas of damage. Your insurance policy should cover some or all of the cost of tracing and accessing damage and any sudden damage to your roof.

All that remains is for everyone at Lockton to wish you and your families a peaceful Christmas. Whilst we will all be taking some time out with our own families across the festive period, our staff remain on hand to maintain the high level of service that you have come to expect.