Christmas tree fires and social media major risks to home security

One in six homes will be empty over Christmas and New Year

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The Independent Online

More than a quarter of people in Britain planning to leave their homes over Christmas say they will leave their tree lights on so that the property appears occupied, according to new research from Santander Insurance.

Richard Al-Dabbagh, Santander Insurance, said: "It's important to protect your home over the festive period as darker nights and an abundance of valuable gifts mean that burglary and opportunistic crime is rife at this time of year. However, leaving Christmas tree lights on for prolonged periods is a potential fire hazard."

Around 4.5 million homes will be vacant for more than 24 hours over the festive period, according to the survey which also revealed that the use of social networking sites over the festive season could compromise home security - 43 per cent of people who will leave their homes unoccupied intend to post updates about their whereabouts.

Thirty per cent of those planning to go away say they will update their Facebook status with a message about where they are and one in 10 will tweet about it. A further two per cent say they will use other social networking sites to inform people about their whereabouts.