Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Safety Tips and Reminders

Unfortunately, “the most wonderful time of the year” can also be the most vulnerable time of the year. But, the possibility of becoming the victim of a crime or traffic/pedestrian collision can be greatly reduced by regularly following good safety practices.

Important Holiday Shopping Safety Tips include:

  • Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Lock you car doors and don’t leave anything of value within view.
  • If you take trips back to your vehicle to lighten your gift package load, move your car to a different parking space because potential thieves can be watching to see which vehicles contain gifts.
  • Don’t hide or store gifts in your trunk when you get home from shopping. Theft from vehicle is a prevalent crime.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash.
  • Keep a list of credit cards at home, in case they are stolen.
  • Carry your closed purse in front of and close to your body.
  • Carry a wallet in a front jacket or pants pocket.
  • Don’t let your guard down because you are in a rush.
If someone does try to rob you, don’t resist. Give up your property; do not endanger your life. Report the crime to police as soon as possible, and try to describe the attacker as accurately as possible.

Seasonal Home Safety Tips include:
  • If your Christmas tree can be seen through a window, do not display presents under the tree where they can also be seen by potential burglars.
  • Make sure to lock all doors and windows.
  • If you are going away for the holiday, let a neighbor know that your home will not be occupied and have someone keep an eye on your home. Stop delivery, or ask someone to pick up your mail and newspapers.
  • Place your lights on timers to give the appearance that the home is occupied.
  • After the holidays, be sure to break down cardboard gift boxes for recycling so that a potential burglar does not know your home has a new computer, TV, video game system, etc.
Special note from the National Crime Prevention Council:

The holidays are a good time to update or create your home inventory. Take photos or make videos of items, and list descriptions and serial numbers. If your home is burglarized, having a detailed inventory can help identify stolen items and make insurance claims easier to file. Make sure items like TVs, VCRs, cameras, camcorders, cell phones, major sports equipment, jewelry, silver, computers, home office equipment and power tools are on the list. Be sure to store this information in a cloud-based program, so that if your computer is stolen, you’ll still be able to access it.

Reminders from the Fire and Rescue Service include:
  • Tree: Make freshness a priority. Check needles to make sure they are green and difficult to pull back from the branches. If the tree has been freshly cut, the needles should not break. Tap the tree on the ground several times. If several needles fall off, the tree is probably dried out.
  • Lights: Use only lights that have been tested by an approved testing laboratory for safety. Inspect them for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets, excessive kinking or wear before plugging them in. Avoid stringing more than three light strands together. Always turn off tree lights, indoors or outdoors, when leaving the house and before going to sleep.
  • Fireplace ashes: If possible, allow all ashes to cool in place for several days. For disposal, place ashes in an approved metal ash bucket with a tight-fitting metal lid, and wet them down. Store the container outside, away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles or other combustible materials. Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes. Don’t dispose of ashes outside on a windy day. Wind can whip up what may have seemed like cool embers, making them fiery hot and sending them traveling to ignite nearby combustibles.
  • Candles: Don’t leave burning candles unattended or place candles too close to holiday decorations. Keep candles in secure holders and on a safe surface away from children and pets. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue officials recommend the use of battery-powered flashlights or lanterns in the event of a power outage.
  • Extension Cords: Make sure that an extension cord is suitable for the electrical “load” needed. Do not place cords under furniture or rugs and do not plug two extension cords together to increase the total length. If too much power is demanded from an extension cord, overheating and fire may result. Read all packaging and instructions and ensure it is UL listed.

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