With the Holidays come joy, excitement, but also crazy. No, I don’t necessarily mean that rude person in line either. I’m talking about the criminals that come out to prey on the frenzy of shoppers and travelers.
Here are 7 tips to have a safe Holiday this year.
1. Get to know your neighbors
The holiday season is a great time to get to know your neighbors. This includes the people who live next door, across the street and over the back fence.
When neighbors watch out for each other, they help keep an eye out for suspicious activity and make communities safer.
2. Holiday Shopping
- Before sunrise and after sunset, park and walk in well lit areas and carry keys and pepper spray in your hand, with your phone put up. Stay alert to your surroundings and take a moment to glance around for possible suspicious people, vehicles, and/or situations.
- When in crowded places, be alert for potential thieves. Don’t overload yourself with packages. Maintain visibility and mobility to avoid potential threats. Be wary of strangers approaching you for any reason.
- The holiday season is notorious for “con-artists” who may attempt to distract you with the intention of taking your money or belongings. When possible, avoid wearing expensive jewelry and carrying large amounts of valuables. Never leave personal belongings unattended. As an added precaution, make sure you have a record of all your credit card numbers in a secure place at home.
- Lock your vehicle and hide valuables, preferably in the trunk or locked compartment.
- Prior to getting into your vehicle take a look inside and around before entering. If you observe evidence of a possible burglary, call your local law enforcement.
- There is safety in numbers. Plan to shop with friends or relatives instead of going out alone. Make sure everyone remains vigilant and looks out for each other.
- When shopping with children, keep a close eye on them at all times. Consider coaching them to go to a store clerk or security guard if they become separated and be sure they know their first and last name so they can advise someone who they are. Give children a contact phone number that they can carry on themselves in case they do become lost.
3. Online Shopping
Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular. The Internet does have risks so it is important to take steps to protect yourself when shopping online.
- The National Cyber Security Alliance recommends that you make sure you have a security suite (firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware) installed and updated with the most current information before shopping online.
- Keep your operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux) and Web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, etc) up-to-date. Before you enter your personal and financial information for an online transaction, look for signs that the site is secure. This includes a closed padlock on your Web browser’s address bar or a URL address that begins with http or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured. Never use unsecured wireless networks to make an online purchase.
- Print and save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, terms of the sale, and copies of any email exchange with the seller. Read your credit card statements as soon as you get them to make sure there are no unauthorized charges. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
- For added online security covering ID theft, social media monitoring, and general computer maintenance, check out Digital Damsel.
4. Keeping your home safe during the holidays
- Be extra cautious about locking windows, sliders, and doors when leaving for any length of time. I suggest keeping all entrance points into your house secured while you’re at home as well.
- Set indoor and outdoor lights on timers and think about doing the same with a television or radio to make it appear as if someone is home. Never keep gifts or valuable objects in plain view from any window.
- Close blinds, shutters, drapes, and curtains because if a burglar can see those items they may attempt to take them from you. If a person knocks at your door and you don’t recognize them, don’t feel obligated to open your door. Teach your children that by no means will they open the door to anyone prior to your knowledge and authorization.
- Criminals can also enter homes through doggie-doors or other animal access points. Be sure to lock these as well.
5. Let someone you trust know when you’re traveling
Inform someone who’s trustworthy where you will be and when you might be expected back to your residence. Ask a neighbor or other dependable persons to watch your house and retrieve your newspapers and mail if possible.
NEVER share on social media, or online in general, where your are or how long. Criminals look for these type of posts to target homes when you’re not home.
6. Holiday Traveling
Winter weather is a true safety hazard. Stay tuned to weather conditions. Anticipate inclement weather and plan accordingly. Carry tire chains, a vehicle emergency kit, keep sufficient gas in the tank and always use extreme caution while driving. Keep an eye out for pedestrians at all times.
7. Celebrate Responsibly
Many people celebrate the season by attending holiday parties with family and friends. Enjoy these gatherings responsibly so this time of joy does not become a time of tragedy. Watch how much you drink. As always, don’t drink then drive, get a ride with someone who is sober.
Do you have other tips to stay safe during the Holidays? Share them below, in the comments.
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