Most common domestic disasters unveiled

Tuesday 9th July 2013

Are you planning to go on holiday this summer? If so, have you compiled a checklist of what to pack? Have you ensured that your passport is still valid? Have you made transfer arrangements to and from the airport? Have you asked a neighbour to keep an eye on your empty property while you are away?

Research from the AA’s Home Emergency Response service shows that just half of all British holidaymakers going abroad leave a spare key with a friend or neighbour, despite the fact that many householders court domestic disaster when homes are left empty.

A quarter of those who’d experienced a home emergency while they were away had a water leak, while a fifth had a pest infestation. Some 15% had their home burgled, 12% had their home flooded and 11% experienced a power failure.

The most common domestic disasters are shown below:

Domestic disaster

Proportion of people who have been affected by this issue

(as % of people coming home from holiday to any type of disaster)

Water leaks


Pest infestation






Power failure (specific to their home)


Being locked out


Smashed windows


Overflowing drain


Roof damage


Electrical fire


Disaster has struck 21% of holidaymakers who have returned to a home emergency, such as a burst pipe, power failures or smashed windows.

But an emergency could go unnoticed, as less than half entrust a friend or neighbour with a spare key. Others could be unaware that anything has gone wrong, as only 52% leave their contact details with somebody.

Tom Stringer, Head of the AA’s Home Emergency Response Service said: “Some people are really unlucky with some kind of emergency happening to their home while they’re on holiday. When you’re at home you can either sort it out yourself, or get somebody in to fix the problem. But if you’re not there it could go unnoticed unless you have someone popping in to keep an eye on things.

“Nobody wants to come back after a week or two away to find that something’s gone wrong like storm damage or a water leak. Unchecked, a leak could cause a lot of unnecessary damage,” Mr Stringer said, pointing out that ‘escape of water’ is the most common cause of home insurance claims.

“Other things could affect the security of your home– such as broken windows or doors – and should be taken care of as soon as possible before you get an unwelcome visit from a burglar.”

The AA offers its top ten tips of things to run through before going on holiday:

1. Unplug electrical appliances

2. Turn off your water stopcock in case there’s a leak

3. Don’t give pests any snacks– make sure there is no leftover food lying around and wipe away any crumbs

4. Make sure there is nothing blocking the gutters or drains. If there’s heavy rainfall while you’re away your drains could overflow

5. Give a key to a friend or neighbour to check on your home while you’re away. They can keep and eye on it and make it home look ‘lived in’ – opening and closing curtains, for example

6. Leave your contact details to somebody so they can get in touch in case of emergency

7. Ensure all windows and doors are locked and secure; don’t leave keys in window locks and don’t leave them within sight of doors or windows. Make sure your shed and garage are locked

       8. Cancel milk and newspapers and get a neighbour to push post left sticking out of a letterbox through

9. If you have an alarm, turn it on before you go away

              10. Put a couple of lights on timer switches to give the impression to a potential thief that someone is home 



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