Home safety and security
Home safety and security are issues for you to consider when you are deciding on a place to live. Windows and doors should preferably have security screens or locks, doors should have dead-bolts, a security chain and a peep hole, and if the property has an alarm system – that would also make it an excellent choice.
It is recommended that if you are in a rental property that you obtain contents insurance for your belongings. This is a form of house insurance that insures the contents of the house. Landlords will usually have house insurance but your belongings will not be covered. Contents insurance will replace your belongings if your house is robbed and your belongings are damaged or stolen, or you have a house fire and your belongings are destroyed or damaged. The cost is around a few hundred dollars a year and depends on the value of your belongings.
Australia is a safe country with low rates of crime. But that doesn’t mean that crime doesn’t happen. Don’t make breaking into your home easy for thieves. Here are some tips to help keep you safe at home:
- If a stranger knocks, talk to them through a locked screen door. Don’t let a stranger in the house. Check the credentials of tradesmen;
- Know your neighbours. You will know who is supposed to be in the area and people are more likely to offer assistance if they know you;
- Do not leave messages on the front door. It lets people know you are not home;
- Avoid having parcels left on the door step. If you have to have something delivered while you are out have the neighbours collect it;
- Create an invisible housemate. Women living alone may choose to have a male relative or friend speak on their answering machine, such as “We’re unable to take your call, please leave a message”;
- Lock your doors and windows when you go out. It’s a good idea to have them locked when you’re at home as well, even if you are well above street level;
- When out, leave a radio or television on or a light in the evening to give the impression you are home;
- Don’t leave a set of spare keys outside your house. If you have a trustworthy friend or neighbour, consider leaving spare keys with them;
- Don’t leave vehicle keys lying around inside your house. If you are burgled, the intruder may take the vehicle as well;
- If you purchase expensive electrical appliances, cut the boxes into pieces before recycling. Discarded boxes outside a home can let burglars know what is new in the house;
- Mark your property with an identifying code (such as your passport number or birth date) using an engraver or ultra-violet markers. These markers are now available to buy from various electrical stores. Marked property is much harder for burglars to resell;
- Keep a list of the serial numbers of your electrical appliances such as televisions, DVD players, video recorders, CD players etc. In the event that they are stolen and recovered, you are more likely to be in a position to identify them as your property;
- Back up computer hard drives and keep these copies in a separate location to reduce the risk of information loss;
- Be careful about the information you give to strangers over the phone, or through social networking internet sites. If you aren’t at home or go on holidays, don’t make the information available to strangers (through an answering machine message or a social networking page);
- Use deadlocks and door chains if you have them. If you don’t, ask your landlord or real estate agent to install them;
- If your house has an alarm, make sure you use it;
- Prepare an emergency escape plan for your home in case of life threatening situations, such as a fire;
- Ensure your house number is clearly visible from the street in case of an emergency;
- If you come home to find evidence of a break-in (such as a broken window or door lock), don’t go in. You may disturb evidence or put yourself in danger if the thief is still there. Ring the police from a safe location outside; and
- Remember to cal 000 in the event of an emergency. Do not hang up the telephone if you do not speak English well – say your language and an interpreter will assist you with your call.
The internet is a useful tool for a range of information purposes, such as communicating with friends and family; personal and academic research; and financial transactions. But you should be aware of dangers such as theft of identity or personal details, which can lead to possible embarrassment or serious financial loss.
Here are some tips for you to remember:
- Ensure your computer is physically protected. Keep it in a secure place and don’t leave a laptop unattended if you carry it with you;
- Protect your electronic data by installing and maintaining anti-virus and anti-spyware software, a firewall and an anti-spam filter for your email applications. Use and update this software regularly;
- Regularly download and install the latest security patches for your computer software, including your web browser. Use automatic software security updates where possible;
- When using social networking sites, be careful about the information you share. The personal photos and messages that you post can provide information to criminals for use in identity theft. Think carefully about the amount of personal information you post and who is able to see it;
- Use unique passwords and update them regularly;
- Never click on suspicious links, even if they come from someone you know. Visiting websites through clicking on links in suspect emails may result in malware (malicious software), such as a ‘trojan', being downloaded to your computer. This is a commonly used and effective means of compromising your computer;
- Delete suspect emails immediately. Don't open these emails;
- Only open an attachment to an email where the sender and the contents of the attachment are known to you;
- Don't download files or applications from suspect websites. The file or application could be malware. Sometimes the malware may even be falsely represented as e-security software designed to protect you; and
- Be wary of online scams and threats. These change all the time. Stay informed by signing up to services like the Stay Smart Online Alert Service. This is a free information source designed to provide Australian home users and small businesses with up to date and simple advice and information on the latest e-security threats and software vulnerabilities.
Read more about internet safety including the Stay Smart Online Alert Service at www.staysmartonline.gov.au
Other useful sites on the use of internet and internet safety are www.cybersmart.gov.au