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Keep your home safe and secure while on holidays this summer

Published: 24th December 2012

NSW firefighters and police are reminding residents to make sure their homes and property are safe and secure before leaving for their summer holiday.

Whether it’s for a night or several weeks, both Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Superintendent Ian Krimmer and Acting Superintendent Matthew Heysmand, NSW Police Force’s Acting Corporate Spokesperson for Crime Prevention, urged holidaymakers to take a few precautions to protect their homes from fire and thieves.

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.”

Acting Superintendent Heysmand said an unlocked window in an empty home, full of valuables, is an opportunistic thief’s dream.

“At this time of year, we urge everyone to assess their home security, and ensure their home is protected while they’re not there – even if they’re only going out for the day,” Acting Superintendent Heysmand said.

“A break-in can have an enormous financial impact and the emotional stress can be long-lasting, and a few simple precautions can help make sure your holiday-homecoming isn’t ruined.”

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 the smoke alarm activates or if they notice anything suspicious.
  • 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
  • Lock away your handyman and 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.

“And while you’re away, try to limit the information you post on social media sites about your holiday. Never post how long you’re away for,” Acting Superintendent Heysmand said.

Further security tips and information can be found at: http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/community_issues/crime_prevention

For more fire safety tips, please visit www.fire.nsw.gov.au