‘Tis the season.
While it is the season for giving and yuletide and holly jolly good times, it is also the season for burglaries, theft and house fires.
To avoid the unfortunate reality here are some tips:
If you are traveling, be aware of posting your plans on social media. Posting, “ going out of town for a week” is an open invitation for a criminal to break-in to your home.
The National Fire Protection Association says 30 percent of all home fires occur during the months of December, January and February.
Busy malls and retail centers can make it easy for shoppers to overlook safety and security. Thieves and other criminals recognize that and often prey on unsuspecting victims during the holiday season. For example, the Better Business Bureau notes that thieves can easily commit identity theft at malls, where shoppers preoccupied with shopping bags and looking after their children in crowded stores may be less likely to conceal their credit cards or PIN numbers at checkout counters.
Prioritize parking in well-lit areas: Mall parking lots can try shoppers’ patience during the holiday season. But shoppers should resist any urges to park in faraway spaces or areas that are poorly lit. Criminals may be lurking in less traveled areas of city or mall parking lots, recognizing that they can quickly strike and abscond with stolen items. Shoppers should even be mindful of dark parking garages, only parking in such areas when accompanied by friends or family members.
Keep a watchful eye on smartphones: Unlike the flip phones that came before them, today’s smartphones are essentially mini computers that can store substantial amounts of data, including users’ credit card numbers. Many people have even linked their smartphones directly to their bank accounts in an effort to make shopping simpler. Lost or stolen phones can be expensive to replace, and savvy thieves can gain access to their victims’ personal information, including financial and personal data.
Shop using plastic instead of cash: Fraudulent purchases made with a credit card are protected by the credit card company. Stolen cash, however, is likely lost for good. While shopping with credit may encourage some to overspend, shoppers must recognize that shopping with cash makes them vulnerable to thieves.
Periodically take packages out to your vehicle: Shoppers walking around the mall with multiple bags may be targeted by thieves and other criminals. Defending oneself against criminals with many shopping bags in hand can be difficult, and criminals can prey on that vulnerability while recognizing that people with multiple shopping bags are likely carrying many valuable items. Periodically take packages out to your vehicle to make shopping easier and to deter criminals. If you leave valuables in your car, make sure they are not readily visible from the outside.
When putting up holiday decorations, always use the proper step stool or ladder. Don’t stand on chairs or other furniture. When using a ladder, use one with slip-resistant feet and wear clean, dry and slip-resistant shoes.
According to the American Christmas Tree Association, Christmas tree fires contribute to $13 million in property damage annually.
The ACTA notes that fresh trees are less likely to catch fire than trees that were cut weeks before being purchased. Avoid trees that are shedding their needles. Try to purchase trees with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck. Purchasing freshly cut trees from tree farms instead of grocery store parking lot vendors, whose trees might have been cut weeks earlier, can ensure trees are fresh.
Before placing lights on the tree, stretch each strand out on the floor and plug them in to see if any lights are damaged or burned out, replacing those that don’t pass inspection.
Trees should never be placed near heat sources. Keep trees away from fireplaces, radiators, candles, heating vents, and lights.
Christmas tree lights should always be turned off at night when residents are going to bed. In addition, lights should never be on when no one is home.
National Fire Protection Association reports 12 percent of home candle fires occur in December. The National Safety Council offers this tips:
Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle
Keep candles out of reach of children
Make sure candles are on stable surfaces
Don’t burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items
Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year
Staff report compiled from the National Safety Council and MetroCreative.