Thanks to the long dark nights and falling temperatures you may think winter’s the time when security and fire safety risks are at their greatest. But summer brings its own share of problems too. Why? Because there are certain things we’re all likely to do during the warmer months and, even though we probably don’t give much thought to them, they all carry security or fire safety risks.
  1. Using electricity outdoors
We all spend more time outdoors during the summer and most of us do activities that need electricity even if it’s just an occasional mow of the lawn.  Virtually everyone knows the dangers of electricity and water mixing. But not everybody remembers this when they’re outside. Never use electrical equipment outdoors if the weather’s wet or damp.  No matter what the weather’s like, always use a residual current device (RCD) to protect against electric shock and reduce the risk of electrical fires. Buy good quality electrical equipment and check regularly for signs of damage. And be sensible with your use of extension leads. Small scale community events are particularly notorious for extension leads plugged into yet more extension leads… always use ones that are the right length, suitable for outdoor use and that are connected to an RCD.
  1. Barbecuing
Is there anyone who doesn’t enjoy a barbecue? Surely not. Even the food frazzling to a crisp never seems to put us off. But it’s important we keep in mind the need to be careful around them. Only use suitable firelighters or starter fuel - never be tempted to try to light them with petrol. If you have a gas barbecue, store and use the gas carefully in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure your barbecue’s on an even surface and keep a suitable fire extinguisher or bucket of water or sand close by in case of an emergency. Once your barbecue’s finished make sure the ashes are cool before you dispose of them. And it goes without saying that you must keep an eye on it at all times – particularly when there are children or pets in the area. NEVER use barbecues as a source of heating inside tents, caravans or other enclosed spaces. There have been several tragic incidents where people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result. Even if it’s not fatal, people who’ve suffered CO poisoning have to cope with long term consequences including brain damage and heart problems.
  1. Leaving windows and doors open
During summer windows and doors are often left open in homes and workplaces but always remember to close them when you’re not around. A burglar needs less than a minute to come in and grab something. Don’t leave valuables within reach of an open window either.  The same goes for cars. It’s easy to leave windows or sunroofs open, or not realise someone else has, so get in the habit of checking everything’s closed and locked and nothing of value is left on view. And if you’re in the back garden admiring your newly (and safely) cut grass as you are busy (and safely) barbecuing, make sure doors and windows are locked at the front as you may not notice a burglar trying to enter.
  1. Going on holiday
At this time of year many of us are heading off on holiday. We’re sure you’re familiar with several of these tips but a reminder isn’t a bad thing in the rush to finish off work and get bags packed. Set your timers to switch lights on and off. Unplug any appliances that don’t need to stay on. Put valuables out of sight. If you’re not taking your car, hide the keys. Don’t leave anything outside – like ladders or tools – that could help a burglar break in. Post piling up is a real giveaway that your house is empty so ask a trusted neighbour or friend to move it out of sight. If you don’t have anyone you can ask, consider using the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service – they’ll hold on to all your mail while you’re away. Be careful about the information you add to your luggage labels (like addresses and landline numbers) as it can be spotted and relayed around criminal networks. Use emails and mobile numbers instead. And if your holiday’s a few weeks away, it’s a good idea to test your security alarm and even get it serviced so any faults are sorted out before you go. Check your social media settings too. It’s become such a part of life for many people, it’s easy to forget that talking about travel plans, posting holiday pictures, ‘checking in’ at holiday locations and geolocation information can all alert criminals to the fact that your home’s empty. If your settings are public or if you have connections or friends who you don’t actually know, be very careful about what you post. All you need to do now is remember your hat, sunglasses and sun cream (or maybe umbrella, wellies and waterproofs) and have a great summer!