The holidays are a time for celebration and relaxing – but there are some hazards to watch out for. We break down the dangers and offer tips for a safe and happy holiday season. Celebrate But Don’t Forget to Stay Safe This Holiday Season
Lock, Take and Hide
Why make it easy for criminals to break into your car during the holiday shopping season? A simple crime prevention reminder is to Lock your car, Take your keys and Hide your possessions this month. For the past 10 years the Insurance Council of Texas has donated thousands of the
Lock, Take and Hide signs to police departments all over Texas. Police departments work with local businesses to use the signs as not only a helpful reminder to shoppers, but as a warning to potential auto burglars to avoid the area.
Watch ICT's Lock Take and Hide video below.
Companies are forecasting record deliveries this year with more than one billion packages making their way to consumers from Black Friday through the Christmas season. Many of those deliveries will be dropped off at the front door and not secured until the residents arrive home.
Law enforcement officials recommend several tips on preventing packages from becoming stolen. These tips include:
- Provide delivery instructions to place the package out of sight from the street.
- Ask that the package be delivered to your work or an alternative delivery site.
- Have neighbors keep an eye out for deliveries to your home.
- Make any would be thief aware that you have a monitored home security system.
- Track your deliveries online so you will know when to expect your package.
- Insure valuable items.
Holiday Fire Hazards
The winter months can be more fire hazardous for most households, but the good news is that all of the hazards can be avoided if people are made aware of them and take precautions.
Natural (real) Christmas trees
- Most of the tree fires happen after Christmas, after a cut tree has dried out, and often start overnight when trees are left lit
- Never place any tree near a heat source such as a fireplace, furnace or space heater.
- Unplug lights when leaving the house or going to sleep. Be especially careful if using lights that heat up — and don’t put them near heat sources, curtains or other flammable materials.
Overloaded electrical circuits
Make sure you buy holiday lights that have been tested for safety by an independent laboratory. Check for a label. Follow directions for safety, don’t hang indoor lights outside – or vice versa –and don’t plug too many items into an electrical socket.
- Candles are a big part of season for many people, but they can be dangerous if left unattended while lit. They need to be placed on a sturdy surface out of reach for children and pets, and away from flammable materials including drapes.
- Use stable candleholders and use the appropriate size candle for the holder.
- Keep your fireplace maintained by a certified chimney sweep once a year, if it is used with any frequency.
- Never use excessive paper or flammable liquid to start a fire.
- Use a metal or glass screen to keep embers in the fireplace opening.
- Never leave a fire unattended or burning overnight.
Make sure your smoke detectors are up-to-date and have working batteries by testing each one.
Identity theft is at an all-time high, and is even worse during the holiday season. There is a new identity theft victim every two seconds, on average. Thieves love the holidays because the pickings are abundant and easy. Anyone who shops online is at risk of having their identity stolen.
Be extremely aware of social networks, but especially at this time of the year. One particular scam that is gaining in popularity is the thief sending very “real” looking “new friend request” emails from one of the social networking sites. Clicking on one of these emails automatically installs malware on your computer, and enables the thief to steal all your personal information.
One of the biggest scams around the holidays happens when you are contributing to charity. Thieves will send emails that look like they are legitimately sent from a charitable organization, when in real-life these are fake web sites that are designed to steal credit card information, donations and your identity.
A few tips to avoid getting your identity stolen:
- Using strong passwords
- Using 2-factor authentication
- Avoiding phishing scams
- Do not share passwords and personal financial information
· Use secure sites for payments
· Not logging into their financial sites using public Wi-Fi
Scammers and criminals are out in full force during the holidays.
Practice safe holiday online shopping:
- Use secure networks when doing online shopping.
- Don’t use your credit card or banking website when using open wi-fi and unsecure networks. Attackers can set up their own network near hotspots and you may end up connected to it. If you do then the attacker can see everything you do and even direct your computer to sites you may not want to go. 2 points: 1.only access your bank account and use your credit card on a computer that you know is on a secure network, 2. when you surf at a coffee shop or other wi-fi hotspot, make sure your anti-virus software and firewall are up to date and running.
- Ask the shop where you are using wi-fi what the name of their network is so you don’t log into a fake one.
- Trust the site that you are making purchases from. When entering your credit card information there should be a closed lock in the address bar and there should be an ‘s’ after ‘http’ in the address bar. The ‘s’ is for secure.
Texans can help make the holidays merry and bright all season long by remembering to make a plan to get home safely before the festivities begin. Visit SoberRides.org to plan your ride home before the holiday parties begin because drivers under the influence of alcohol could face up to $17,000 in fines, fees, and could lose their license.
Remember, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but one poor decision to drink and drive could bring a devastating end to holiday celebrations. Plan While You Can this holiday season so you don’t Drink. Drive. Go To Jail.
Watch out for Rudolph!
November and December are months with a high incidence rate of auto/deer collisions. If you find yourself driving the winding and many, many roads of Texas this month, keep these tips in mind for a safe trip:
- Buckle up! Not only is it the law in Texas, it’ll make sure you’re safe in the event that you do encounter a deer on the road.
- Deer are more likely to be active between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and midnight. Be extra alert if you’re driving during these times.
- If driving through a deer-crossing zone at night, use your brights. Bright lights will increase your visibility and better your chances of spotting any deer before impact.
- Decrease your speed when driving through a deer-crossing zone and be ready to brake if you spot any deer on the roadside.
- Deer travel in packs. If you spot one, rest assured there are more nearby.
Fireworks are a festive part of the New Year’s celebration, but they can also be dangerous. Here are some tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety:
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
- A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
- Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
- FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.