Winter holidays are a time for celebration. Homes
and malls spill over with gift displays. Distracted shoppers rush around,
stressed out and careless, carrying too many packages. Homes are left empty in
the great homeward-bound holiday migration.
This holiday season, don't let the holiday spirit
move you to leaving your home and your wallet open to opportunistic thieves.
Follow these simple tips for ensuring a crime-free holiday.
Don't shop 'til you
alert and be aware of what is going on around you.
in a well-lighted area, close the windows, and lock the car.
leave packages and boxes visible through car windows. Lock them in the trunk
or take them directly home.
carry large amounts of cash. Pay with checks or credit cards whenever
get overburdened with packages; always keep one hand free.
your purse close to your body, not dangling loosely. Put your wallet in your
front pants pocket or in an inside coat pocket.
children to go to a store clerk or security guard if they get separated.
When shopping online,
use common sense to protect against fraud or ID theft.
yourself with the rules and policies of online stores and auction sites.
shop with companies you know, and make sure that the site complies with
industry security standards.
your personal information private, and keep your password secure. Do not
respond to requests for your password or credit card information unless you
initiate the transaction.
Make sure you don't
invite crime home for the holidays.
display gifts where they can be seen through windows or doors.
sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts. Ask for identification and call
their main office to verify their employment.
not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others' generosity
during the holidays by going door to door for charitable donations when
there's no charity involved. Ask for identification and how the funds will
be used. Help a charitable organization you trust and respect instead.
holidays are a good time to update or start an inventory of your home.
photos or make videos of items and list descriptions and serial numbers.
a detailed inventory can help identify stolen items and make insurance
claims easier to file.
Don't make your office
a target for crooks looking for extra holiday cash.
gifts purchased during lunch in a safe place.
keep your keys and wallet with you. Secure purses, wallets, or other
valuables in a locked drawer or cabinet.
be embarrassed to challenge unfamiliar faces in the office.
announce that you are leaving town during the holidays. Don't offer
information about co-workers' plans to callers.
When you travel, be sure to take common sense along.
lock doors and windows when you leave, even for a few minutes.
all mail and suspend all deliveries, or arrange for a trusted neighbor to
take in your mail, newspapers, and other deliveries.
timer lights to make your house look lived in.
alert. Pay attention to people and activities around you.
leave packages, luggage, cameras, or purses in the car where they can
credit cards or traveler's checks instead of cash.
valuables in the hotel safe, or hide them in a secure place.
lock balcony doors.
The holidays are an exciting time of year for
kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips
from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Please feel free to excerpt these
tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast story, with
acknowledgement of the source.
purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire
purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles
are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles
do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when
tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or
portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block
a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This
allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from
drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live
trees out rapidly.
use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with
electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be
using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for
outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated
staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
all tree lights-even if you've just purchased them-before hanging them on
your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires,
broken sockets or loose connections.
all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit
interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short
out and start a fire.
only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose
tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use
non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked
homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are
sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the
reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces,
and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child
to eat them.
gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass
"angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung
irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace
areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking
hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.
toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended
child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received
as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don't give young children (under
age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy
toys that are battery-operated.
under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games.
Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot
have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove
strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They
could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly
wash raw vegetables and fruits.
sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and
tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child's exploring
your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.
put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.
keep raw foods and cooked foods separate, and use separate utensils when
thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more
than two hours.
up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke
on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger
a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you or a
baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police
and fire department, your pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line,
visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase
your child's stress levels. Trying to stick to your child's usual routines,
including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child
enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.
lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations
from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown
on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense
gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from
not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as
wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
12 Tips of Safe Holiday Shopping!!
holiday shopping season is drawing hear, and while traversing the local malls
and shopping centers with armloads of gifts and packages may seem like fun, here
are a few tips to help keep you safe while you shop!
Always be alert.
Don't carry lots of cash; use your debit card instead. If it gets stolen,
you can always have a hold put on your account, or cancel the card all together.
Have your car keys out and ready when you are walking to your car.
Wear conservative and comfortable clothing. Tennis shoes are a good idea.
Always be mindful of your children when you are shopping. Know where they
are at all times.
Grip your packages tightly when you are walking around parking lots.
Try to look under your car from a distance when you are approaching.
Be careful about giving cash away to charitable organizations located on curbs.
Have your money ready, folded and slip it in the buckets quickly.
Always shop in groups! It's more fun to shop that way anyway.
Be cautious at ATM machines. If someone is looking over your shoulder,
cancel your transaction and go elsewhere.
If any situation makes you uncomfortable, don't feel badly about leaving right
Try to end your shopping before dark. Parking lots become much more
dangerous when lighted areas are limited.
Some info provided by 2005 - American Academy