There are special occasions that call for special safety measures. During holiday times, there are special safety considerations you should keep in mind and when you or your family go on vacation, you must be extra careful to make your home and property safe and burglar resistant.
Halloween is a special time for children, but children don’t always know what is and is not safe. If your children are going trick or treating on Halloween, there are several tips to follow for their safety.
- Make sure they wear light colored costumes with plenty of reflective tape so they are visible to cars and trucks. Take a flashlight along for added visibility.
- Look left, right and left again when crossing the street.
- Put electronic devices away so there are no distractions.
- If possible, have them go while it is still light outside.
- They should be accompanied by an adult, or an older brother or sister.
- Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
- They should not sample candy given to them until it has been checked by an adult for possible tampering.
- Notify a deputy if suspicious or harmful items are found in your child’s collection of treats.
- They should stay away from homes with dogs loose in the yard.
Having a Halloween party is a good alternative to the tradition of trick or treating. It gives kids an opportunity to have a good time in a supervised and safe atmosphere.
Tips for people driving on Halloween:
· Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may dart in front of cars when crossing the street.
· Take extra time and look carefully for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
· Enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully.
· Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
· Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
· Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours
And a few tips for pet owners:
- Don't leave your pet out in the yard on Halloween: There are plenty of pranksters who will go out of their way to tease pets and you don’t want your dog to bite a trick-or-treater who might venture too close.
- Trick-or-treat candy is not for pets: Chocolate is poisonous to many animals, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed by your pet.
- Be careful your cat or dog doesn't dart out through the open door when you open it for trick or treaters.
For more Halloween Safety Tips, click here.
Holiday Decorating Tips
- Having a live Christmas tree is one of the nicest things about the holiday season. The smell of pine has become a symbol of Christmas. A live tree can be a hazard, however, if not cared for properly.
- Buy a tree stand with a good sized water reservoir and keep plenty of water in the stand. In addition, use an additive for the water to keep the tree green and in good condition. A dry tree can be a fire hazard.
- Also remember to turn off the Christmas tree lights when not in the room, especially at night when sleeping, or when the house is unoccupied. There have been instances of tree lights getting too hot, or shorting out and catching the tree on fire.
- If candles are a part of a home’s decorations, follow the same rules. Put out the candle flames when no one is in the room, and make sure the candle is sitting on a non-flammable surface, such as a large plate. Incidentally, the use of lighted candles is strongly discouraged.
- Christmas presents are a integral part of the holiday, and unfortunately they are also a temptation to burglars. Dont keep presents underneath the tree where they might be visible from a window to someone passing outside. Hide them out of sight until Christmas morning, so you dont wake up and find them gone before you have a chance to open them.
Vacation Safety Tips
- Make sure the doors and windows at your home are all locked up tight when you leave.
- Don’t leave lights on 24 hours a day. Put automatic timers on several lights and a radio. Set them so they will turn on and off at random times in different rooms—especially the bathroom.
- Have newspaper and mail delivery stopped while you are gone or have a friend pick them up.
- Leave information on where you can be contacted in an emergency with a trusted neighbor; ask them to watch your home and to park in the driveway occasionally.
- Don’t publicize or talk about vacations ahead of time. Burglars are always listening.
- Notify the Sheriff’s Office of your plans, and fill out a “premises-check” form, available at the nearest Sheriff’s Office Substation. Deputies will keep an eye on your house when they are in the neighborhood.
- Arrange to have the lawn mowed.
- Give your house a lived in appearance. A residence that presents a lived in appearance is a deterrent to burglars.
- Have a neighbor occasionally use your garbage cans.
- Leave drapes in a normal position to maintain a lived in appearance.
The holiday season can be distracting, with lots of glittering lights, holiday decorations and crowds of people. Make sure you pay attention to what is happening at all times. You don't want your holiday season to turn into a negative experience.
- Stay alert and aware of what is going on around you.
- Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
- Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies when taking mass transit: report any unattended packages to security or staff.
- ALWAYS leave yourself extra time. By giving yourself extra time, you'll be able to remind yourself of these basic shopping safety tips.
- If you see anything suspicious, call 911.
- Park in a well lighted area and be sure to lock your car doors.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
- NEVER leave doors unlocked or windows open.
- Hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk so they aren’t visible to those passing by your car.
Be smart about your purchases
- Avoid carrying cash if at all possible. Use credit cards instead. This makes you less vulnerable to thieves, and many cards offer increased warranties, and other protections for your purchases.
- Double check that you have your credit cards and wallet after you pay for your items.
- Check receipts to see whether your full credit card number appears. If a receipt has your full number on it, take a pen and thoroughly scratch it out.
- Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Don’t put your purse down, and carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put your wallet in an inside pocket or in a front pants pocket. This will deter pickpockets and purse snatchers.
Shopping with children
- If you are shopping with your children, talk to them ahead of time about what to do if they get lost in the crowd. Have a central meeting place or teach them to go immediately to a store clerk or a security guard and ask for help.
- If they are old enough, make sure they know your home phone number, your cell phone number and that your name is not just “Mommy” or “Daddy”.
- Ensure that any children with you know your cell phone number. Give cards with contact information to any who don’t.
- Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
- Keep your personal information private and your passwords secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
- Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
- Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
Fraud during the holidays:
There are many opportunities for criminals to steal your money during the holidays and rest assured there are many out there who are planning their next scheme as we speak. Here are just a few possibilities.
- Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts and it isn’t unusual for people to go door to door looking for “charitable” donations when, in fact, they are there to line their own pockets. Ask for identification and ask for specifics about how the money will be used. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers, don’t give. Help a charity you know and like – and are sure of – instead.
- Remember: we always say if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This applies to internet purchases as well, including purchases on Craigslist and eBay.
- If you are shopping on line, make sure the web site you are shopping on is a legitimate one. When in doubt, shop elsewhere.
- Email is a wonderful tool for all of us, especially criminals. Cybercriminals often send fake invoices and delivery notices that look like they are from a legitimate business like FedEx , UPS or the Post Office. Banking and credit card scams are also rampant. Criminals try to trick you into divulging your bank account numbers, passwords, social security numbers and other information which will allow them to steal your identity. To confirm authenticity of any of these emails, get a phone number for the company from their official web site and call them for confirmation.
- Holiday e-cards are fun, but beware of clicking on one that comes from someone you don’t know. It could contain malware, spyware or other hidden nastiness.
- Many of us use our credit cards for holiday purchases. Make sure you keep close track of your purchases and check your statements frequently to make sure there are no fraudulent purchases made by someone who has stolen your credit card information.
Play it safeand have a happy holiday.