The holidays can be full of excitement and happiness, but this time of year can also give thieves an opportunity to take advantage of you and your loved ones.
Here are some general suggestions, provided by NARMC Safety Officer Jamie Payne, for staying safe this holiday season.
Always remember, when you are in public there is no such thing as a safe area. You should always be on guard and aware of your surroundings.
When in a public area, scan the people around you. Thieves avoid people whom they perceive as alert and may have already noticed them.
Pay attention to your instincts. If you have a bad feeling about an area, there may be a good reason.
Thieves target individuals they perceive as vulnerable, such as elderly individuals, women who are alone or women with children.
To avoid being targeted, think about what attracts criminals, such as flashy jewelry, money that is visible during checkout, large purses, smart phones and shopping bags.
Carry only what is necessary when out and about; leave the rest at home.
Don’t talk on your phone while walking because you are not as attentive to your surroundings when on the phone.
When shopping, always lock your vehicle and avoid leaving items in the car; lock them in the truck.
Park in a well-lit area when out after dark. When walking to your car, have your keys ready to avoid fishing for them while standing in the parking lot. Brief inattention to your surroundings can be risky.
After shopping, don’t sit in your parked car checking email or other activities. This makes you a sitting target for thieves.
Train children to only open the door to family or friends who know the ‘password’ and to never open the door to strangers.
Keep your curtains or blinds closed. A thief may be interested in your home if they can easily spot your appliances, home furnishings or Christmas gifts under the tree.
Consider an alarm system.
Make sure you always lock your doors and windows.
Be careful about announcing your activities and plans on social media, this can give potential thieves a heads up that your house is unattended.
Before approaching an ATM machine, take note of who is in the area. Is there a car parked nearby or bushes nearby where someone can hide? If you are not sure if it is safe, go somewhere else. The most you will lose is time, but as least you’ll be safe.
When in crowds, be alert for pickpockets especially if someone bumps into you.
If you enjoy some holiday cheer while out, make sure you have a safe, sober ride home.
Check your electrical holiday lights for dry rot, damage, fraying or anything else that could cause them to short.
Make sure to water your live Christmas tree, and do not allow it to dry out.
Check smoke detectors and Co2 detectors to make sure they work.
If you are working late, walk out with a coworker or have security escort you to your car.
If you feel you are being followed home, don’t pull into your driveway. Instead, keep driving and go to a crowded area or a police or fire station.
While at work, don't leave your personal belongings unattended. Lock them in your locker, office or drawer. Don't walk away and leave your office open.
If your work requires you to wear an identification badge, be sure to store your badge securely when not at work.
Snow and ice outside inevitably end up inside. Watch for wet floors and slick spots both indoors and outdoors to avoid falls and slips.
Check routes and roadways for weather conditions before you leave.
Give yourself extra time due to driving conditions that may change while traveling.
Make sure your vehicle is in good working order before traveling.
Carry a basic winter survival kit and extra blankets in the car when traveling, even over short distances if moving through rural areas. Let someone know where you are going and check in with that person when you return.
Keep extra water, batteries, canned goods, candles, medications, baby formula, baby food and anything else that is a basic necessity for your family on hand in the event that you are stuck at your house for a few days or longer due to snow and ice.
Be alert when on your computer or phone by only shopping on legitimate websites and never giving out personal information or passwords.
NARMC wishes you and your family a very safe and happy holiday season. The NARMC family is here for you 24/7 if you ever need us.