More Crime is Committed in Winter, Don’t let your Home Become a Target.
The clocks have gone back, the evenings are darker and it’s the perfect time to secure your home for winter. Burglaries spike more than a third during this time, with burglars less likely to be disturbed in the dark. As 2019’s National Home Security Month ends, we want to remind everyone the steps they should be taking to be safe during daylight savings time.
Don’t extend an Open Invitation
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, all entrances and windows should be locked even if you’re in the house and this includes sheds and outbuildings. Don’t leave keys in the lock, by the front door where they can be ‘fished’ or outside as an emergency spare.
Burglars can work out if there’s a deadlock by using just their foot, so always double lock. All door locks should be British Kitemarked and approved to TS 007 three-star rating, proofed against snapping, drilling, picking, cutting and forcing.
Make sure your calendar isn’t in view, it’s a sure-fire way of helping thieves to ascertain when your home is empty. Any alarm system should be kept clean, if the keys are dirty or worn it’s not difficult to work out your passcode.
Frosted windows give away where your bathroom is, being in there with no lights in the rest of the house suggests to burglars they will have enough time to get in and out without you knowing.
The visible presence of an alarm and CCTV systems is an effective deterrent. Keep in mind burglars are more likely to target houses with DIY alarms or none. Smart cameras allow homeowners to have a live feed through their phone, wherever they are protecting homes 24/7.
Set your alarm when you’re out, sleeping or just hanging washing on the line. Servicing and maintenance must be up to date, if your alarm malfunctions regularly neighbours will stop paying attention to it.
Outside your house, install motion sensors and security lighting to show off unwanted guests, a gravel driveway will alert you to any intruders and keep greenery cut back so not to create hiding places.
Burglars love seeing signs advertising pets, it means most alarms will be switched off when pets are home alone. You can get pet friendly systems reducing false alarms without compromising security.
Buy a safe for personal papers, passports and small items of jewellery, secured to the floor or wall.
Social media is great for communicating with friends and family but it’s also a good place for burglars to gain information. Don’t advertise you’re out or ‘checking in’ to somewhere, it shows you’re not at home.
If you see someone acting suspiciously report it to the police by calling 101 or in an emergency, 999.
Get your Home Winter Ready
Know what to do in a Power Cut
If there’s a power cut, contact the electricity Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for your area, they’re responsible for maintaining the physical electricity supplies to your home. Call 105 to using the postcode tool on their website to find your DNO.
Planning and preparation can’t always prevent weather damage, ensure you are insured with an up to date policy that covers you for any necessary repairs.
Avoid Flying Garden Furniture
In high winds, everyday garden items can become dangerous, lock them in a shed or outbuilding. We’ve all seen airborne trampolines making their way across a residential estate.
Check Your Roof
Check for loose tiles, slates and flashing on your roof and remove any dead branches from nearby trees to reduce risk of damage.
Clear Your Guttering
Wind can blow leaves into gutters and drainpipes getting stuck, this causes water to go into back into guttering and leak into the sides of your house. To avoid this, prune your trees before winter it also helps avoid snow building up and damage associated with broken branches.
Don’t leave yourself open to Frozen and Burst Pipes
Make sure water pipes and tanks are well insulated to protect against freezing and save you money.
Check Your Flood Risk
Check if your home is at risk of flooding and sign up for free flooding warnings here.
Staying Safe this Fireworks Season
Bonfire Night is one of the UK’s most popular annual events however, it’s also a good distraction, burglars use to commit crime with a 22% increase in burglaries over a normal autumn evening.
Make it Look like you’re still at Home
Using motion sensors and smart plugs to time when lights, the TV or radio comes on while you’re out enjoying the fireworks, is a simple but effective dissuasion for criminals. They’re less likely to break in if they’re not completely sure no one is home.
Lock up, even if you’re only going to the neighbour’s bonfire and so your house isn’t a window display for criminals shut your curtains or blinds.
Let your Gates Squeak
You may find in the colder, wetter weather your gate develops a squeak. Don’t oil it, a noisy gate will put off intruders. Their aim is to be as quiet as possible.
The Law on Fireworks
Fireworks, including sparklers, can only be purchased from registered sellers for private use:
- 15th October to 10th November
- 26th to 31st December
- 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year
At other times of the year, you can only purchase fireworks from licensed shops.
Adult fireworks (category 2 or 3) cannot be purchased or carried in public by anyone under 18. Category 4 fireworks can only be used by professionals. Fireworks must not be set off or thrown in the street or public places. They cannot be set off at all between 11 pm and 7 am, except on certain occasions:
- The cut off is midnight on Bonfire Night.
- On New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year fireworks must stop by 1 am.
It’s also an offence to tamper with or modify fireworks.
You can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90.
You should check with your council for any specific rules about setting off fireworks in your local area.
Only adults should set up fireworks displays, light fireworks and safely dispose of fireworks but remember alcohol and fireworks don’t mix. Children and young people should always be supervised and enjoy fireworks from a safe distance.
- Pre-plan your fireworks display to ensure it’s safe and enjoyable, stick to the cut off times.
- Only purchase CE marked fireworks, keep them in their closed box and use them one at a time, following the instructions.
- Light fireworks at arm’s length using a taper and stand well back, keeping any naked flames like cigarettes away from them.
- Don’t return to a firework once it has been lit, and don’t put it in your pocket or throw them.
- Any rocket fireworks should be kept well away from spectators.
Sparklers are often seen as harmless, but they burn at severely high temperatures like a welding torch. Because of this:
- Sparklers shouldn’t be given to under 5’s.
- Everyone handling sparklers must wear gloves.
- Hold sparklers at arm’s length while being lit, only light them one at a time and don’t wave them close to people.
- Don’t hold a baby while holding a sparkler.
- When a sparkler is finished always put it in a bucket of cold water.
- One person should be designated as responsible for the bonfire and children should be supervised.
- Choose a site that is away from wooden fences, sheds and where children will be playing.
- Never use petrol or paraffin, it’s safer to use firelighters to prevent flare-ups.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of an accident.
- Avoid loose clothing and tie back long hair.
- After the bonfire, pour water on the fire rather than leaving it to burn out, it should be out and surrounding areas safe before you leave.
If you’re having any kind of party on Bonfire Night or around that time give your neighbours advanced warning. That way they can prepare for any music, noise and smoke that is likely to occur. If they’re unhappy with your celebrations, making a compromise to agree a reasonable time for it to come to an end.
Visit RoSPA’s website for more information on fireworks and Bonfire Night safety.
Home safety and personal safety are interlinked, with darker evenings it’s even more important to be aware of your surroundings and stay alert to dangers.
Plan your route in advance, carry a mobile phone and cash, make sure someone knows where you’re going and what you’re doing.
Act and walk with confidence, it makes you look in control and less vulnerable.
Using a mobile phone to text or call, wearing a hood or listening to loud music all affect responsiveness to your surroundings.
Keep your valuables including your mobile phone, other devices and jewellery hidden. Out of sight means out of mind.
Go Against the Flow
While walking on the pavement always face oncoming traffic, it’s more difficult for thieves on bikes to come up behind you. But still maintain awareness of anyone approaching from ahead of you.
Trust your Instincts
Avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar environments, parks or side streets. If you are walking in an evening, stick to busy places with a lot of active CCTV and good lighting.
Create a Plan
Whoever you’re out with, make a back-up plan of what do to if something goes wrong and always look out for one another.
Alcohol and drugs can reduce reaction time and inhibitions which makes it more difficult to assess risks and deal with them safely. Keep an eye on how much you drink and never let your glass or bottle out of sight.
Safety in Numbers
Travel with other people you know, stick to routes and forms of transports that other people are using, make sure to avoid shortcuts with limited people.
Also, see our first article for National Home Security Month to find out more about how APG can help secure your home and ensure the safety of your family. Alternatively, find the rest of our NHSM articles here.
The Asset Protection Group comprises a group of Fire & Security companies with shared ownership and one common goal, protecting your most important assets. As a collective group, we look to offer protection to your assets to assist you with your ongoing success within your own business.