Is complacency compromising silly season safety?


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Is complacency compromising silly season safety?

Suncorp is encouraging everyone to look after themselves, their loved ones, and their homes this festive season, with new research revealing the holiday season comes with a 68 per cent spike in insurance claims.

According to Suncorp claims, over a quarter of claims relating to electrical faults, barbecue fires or explosions and home burglaries occurred over the December 2017 to January 2018 period.

Suncorp spokesperson, Ashleigh Paterson, said everyone needs to have appropriate measures in place to avoid potential safety risks over the holidays.

“For many of us summer means winding down and relaxing with family and friends, but it’s important not to become complacent and overlook potential risks,” Ms Paterson said.

“Concerningly, electrical faults were the leading cause of home fires last summer (27 per cent), which could be linked to our air conditioners being in overdrive and people celebrating with decorative lights.
“It’s important to check any electrical decorations are in good working order and are installed correctly – while keeping them away from flammable items like wrapping paper.” 

Last year alone, Suncorp received more than 900 claims relating to barbecue fires or explosions, and 24 per cent occurred in December or January. 

“When barbecuing, check your gas bottles and connections for leaks, never leave your cooking unattended, and ensure everything is correctly turned off when you’re finished. You also need a plan and know what to do if there is a fire or if someone gets burnt,” Ms Paterson said.

While a third of people are not concerned with home security* because they believe they live in a safe neighbourhood, pleasingly 49 per cent have installed screens, bars or double locks and 29 per cent use technology, such as smart security systems and mobile apps. 

A further 38 per cent believe their home will be protected just by leaving the lights on and less than one in three home owners have a house sitter while they’re away on holidays.

“Sadly, the festive season is also when we see a rise in theft, with our most recent summer claims data showing that a quarter of home break-ins occurring in December 2017 or January 2018,” Ms Paterson.

“People heading out of town need to ensure their property and possessions are secure, particularly cash, electronics and jewellery which, according to claims data, are the top three categories targeted by thieves.

“Another consideration should be how you share travel plans on social media. With nearly a third of people* sharing their travel plans with their networks, it’s important to review your privacy settings before you post.” 

Top tips for the Christmas enthusiast 

  • Check all your lights and electrical decorations before switching them on – 11 months is a long time to be in storage.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use Australian Standards-compliant Christmas lights.  
  • While they look lovely, always remember to turn lights off before going to bed or leaving the house. 

Top tips for the barbecue extraordinaire

  • Check the gas bottle, hose and nozzle and make sure it’s not leaking. If you’re not sure, spray it with soapy water. If it bubbles when you turn the nozzle on, it’s leaking.
  • Avoid leaving the gas on for too long before igniting and do not leave your cooking unattended. 
  • Buy a fire blanket and fire extinguisher, and have them easily accessible from your kitchen and barbecue area. 
  • Do not put water on a fat fire. Water can rapidly spread the fire and lead to serious injuries and property damage

Top tips for the passionate traveller

  • Ask your friends or neighbours to keep an eye on your property and collect your mail while you’re away – a pile up of junk mail typically indicates no-one is home. 
  • Be mindful of how you promote your travel plans on social media – sharing destinations aren’t always foolproof, so review your level of privacy before you post. 
  • Keep your valuables in a safe or out of sight. 

*The 2018 National Home Index Research was conducted by AMR, among 1,501 participants, on behalf of Suncorp. Data was weighted by age, gender and location, to ensure the sample would be representative of the Australian population.