Residents Cautioned As Holidays Leave Homes Vulnerable To Burglaries and Fires

By Tamas Mondovics

That the holiday season presents an increase of vulnerability to home burglaries and fires is nothing new.

It has been also noted that, while each year local law enforcement and fire departments issue tips to help make the holiday season safer for everyone, the burglary and house fire rates remain high.

According to a recent survey by Nextdoor, (the free and private social network for neighborhoods) nearly 60 percent of Americans don’t follow common safety precautions to protect their home from theft as it reveals that 38 percent of homeowners do not tell a neighbor they’re going out of town, and 19 percent leave their house key in a nearby hiding place while they’re away.

The stats also mention that in addition, nearly 50 percent of Americans engaged in decorating habits that increase home fire danger and said that specifically 34 percent connect multiple extension cords together, and 16 percent put up holiday lights without inspecting them for frayed cords.

The FBI reports that around 400,000 burglaries occur during the holidays each year and according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), approximately 390 home fires and 21 deaths are caused by either a Christmas tree, holiday lights, or other decorative lighting occur each year.

“The holiday season can be a very busy and stressful time for many Americans, so it’s important to remind residents to use common sense safety precautions during the holidays and throughout the year,” said Nextdoor spokesperson Whitney Swindells, adding that many people don’t know how easy it is for an accident to happen and that by following some basic safety advice, the chances of making it through the holidays unscathed increase.

Drawing attention to safety over the holiday season and beyond, Home Depot in partnership with Kidde – the world’s largest manufacturer of fire safety products and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), donated 2,500 10-year sealed lithium battery smoke alarms to the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

“The local donation is part of a nationwide giveaway of $1 million worth of smoke alarms, or 50,000 units,” said event spokes person Marissa Moss.

In addition to the donation, representatives from NFPA and the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue were on hand to discuss tips for keeping homes safe this holiday season.

Free smoke alarm installation for the first 100 attendees who sign up were also offered, as well as a fire safety workshop for children who had a chance to thank their local firefighters for all that they do.

As part of the ceremony and festivities, Kidde and The Home Depot contributed $25,000 to The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s “Be a Hero, Save a Hero” initiative.

Moss said that the contribution follows the launch of the public service campaign, which urges homeowners to log on to www.alarmpledge.com and promise to ensure their home has enough up-to-date and working smoke alarms. “The pledge encourages families to create and practice a home fire escape plan,” Moss said. “For every pledge shared, Kidde will make another contribution to the foundation and the nonprofit organization Help the Good Guys to provide assistance to injured firefighters and surviving families.”

For more information about Hillsborough County Fire Rescue or the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, please visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org, or www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.