Protect against theft and fire

T’IS the season to be jolly but that happiness can quickly turn sour if household security and safety are ignored.

NSW firefighters and police have repeated warnings to North West residents as thousands embark on their annual summer holiday or look at getting away for a few days over the festive and new year break.

Whether it’s for a night or several weeks, Fire and Rescue NSW superintendent Ian Krimmer and NSW Police acting superintendent Matthew Heysmand urged holidaymakers to take a few precautions to protect their homes from fire and thieves.

Superintendent Krimmer said firefighters responded to nearly 600 residential fires across the state during the past summer holidays, many in unoccupied homes.

“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,” he said.

“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, was an opportunistic thief’s dream.

“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.”

Acting superintendent Heysmand also warned against posting too much information on social media.

“Try to limit the information you post about your holiday,” he said.

“Never post how long you’re away for.”

 Before leaving your home... 

* 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 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. 

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