Going on summer holiday? Check your home is safe and secure

Published: 24th December 2013

As residents prepare to go away for the Christmas and New Year break, NSW Police Force and Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) are urging them to ensure their homes are safe from fire and thieves.

NSW Police Force's Corporate Sponsor for Crime Prevention, Acting Superintendent Steve Henkel, joined Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW)’s Superintendent Ian Krimmer today (Tuesday 24 December 2013), to highlight simple precautions to protect homes from fire and thieves.

Acting Superintendent Henkel said whether residents are going away for a day or several weeks, it's important to assess home security before leaving.

"It is no secret that many people go on holidays or on day trips at this time of year, leaving their home unattended," A/Supt Henkel said.

"By taking some simple precautions, residents can better protect their homes while they're away.

"Something as simple as forgetting to lock a window creates an opportunity for a thief to gain access to your home.

"A break-in can have enormous financial impact and the emotional stress can be long-lasting, so it's important to take a few minutes to check and re-check your home is secure.

"Finally, while you're away, limit the information you post on social media about your holiday - and never post how long you're away for," A/Supt Henkel said.

Superintendent Krimmer said FRNSW firefighters responded to nearly 600 residential fires across the state last summer holiday period, many in unoccupied homes.

"Safeguarding your home against fire is crucial all year round. Fires can, and do, occur in unoccupied houses and units while people are away taking a break," Superintendent Krimmer said.

"No one wants to come home to a financial and emotional disaster. If you're going away on holidays, make sure your smoke alarm is working and your home is prepared.

"And when you arrive at your holiday destination, make sure there is a working smoke alarm if required and prepare and practise a fire escape plan with your family."

Before leaving your home for an extended period:

  • Switch off and disconnect non-essential electrical appliances and IT equipment.
  • Ensure any electrical items you decide to leave on continuously, or on timer circuits, are in good working order – that includes lights left on to deter thieves both inside and outside.
  • Test your smoke alarms and change batteries, if required, to ensure they function.
  • Let a trusted neighbour or family friend know of your whereabouts and contact details. Ask them to watch your home, empty your mailbox, mow your lawn and, most importantly, call Triple-Zero (000) if they notice anything suspicious or if the smoke alarm activates.
  • If you live in a bushfire-prone area, prepare your home properly before you leave – a full preparation checklist can be found at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
  • Dispose of Christmas wrapping and delivery/goods packaging carefully. Don’t advertise your new valuables to would-be thieves.Lock away your handyman/gardening tools, which may be used to force open doors or windows, and any item that may be used to gain access to the property or cause damage.
  • Record descriptions, models and serial numbers of your valuables and then put them somewhere safe.
  • Before you leave, close all internal doors to help contain any fire that might occur.
  • Then, check your doors, windows and garage are locked securely, and remove spare keys from hiding places. As you leave, check everything again.
  • Finally, if you have a home alarm, activate it.