The holidays in all their chaotic, busy splendour are upon us once again, and while that means lots of fun, friends and family, it also means rare opportunities for people to take advantage of you and ruin your season. While most problems over the holidays are blessedly uncommon, it never hurts to take some basic precautions while shopping, celebrating, or travelling this year to ensure that nothing crimps your holiday style. As a service to our customers (and everyone else) here are some basic safety tips you should keep in mind this holiday season.
Our houses turn into small hotels and meeting places over the holidays, and our usual routines are upset. Always double check that windows and doors are locked when you leave, in case anyone is waiting for you to leave all those presents unattended. In fact, keep presents away from the windows so no crimes of opportunity are inspired. If you can put lights on a timer and a radio or TV playing while you’re out for long periods of time, that’s best – thieves do ‛case’ homes during the holidays.
When out shopping, keep your bag, wallet, or purse close to you at all times and be aware of it. A nice big tote bag like our Fleur de Lis is sturdy enough that no one will be able to just tear it off your shoulder. Plus, when out in darkened parking lots your keys will be clearly visible and easy to find, reducing your time spent in sparsely populated lots while distracted.
If you’re bumped by someone who rushes away, check your pockets immediately – the ‘bump’ is a frequent tactic for pick-pockets. Also avoid putting bags or purses on hooks or slung over doors in restrooms.
Before the house fills with people, test your smoke and carbon dioxides detectors and replace the batteries. Avoid using candles unless you’re going to be able to monitor them consistently. Test your holiday lights and discard any with worn wiring or that flicker constantly.
If children accompany you to shopping malls or other stores, have a plan for them in case of separation. Older children should have their own cell phone with a basic plan so they can call you in case of trouble. Even so, have a meeting place and a strategy in place for the possibility before you leave the house.
Credit cards are your friends. While paying cash may be an effective money management technique, if a thief makes off with a wallet filled with cash that money is gone forever – as it is if you accidentally drop it. With credit cards, even if the thief makes purchases before you are aware of the loss they are usually made up by the bank and you often will suffer no loss at all.
These are simply general ideas to keep in mind. You know your home and your family best – the key is, think about safety before you celebrate, and then you won’t have to think about it afterwards!
I regularly take my children to visit their grandparents. However, travelling with my three young kids can be a total pain. The eldest boy is eight years old, the middle girl is six, and the youngest boy is just four. This means that when we travel, their bags always end up overstuffed with toys, coloring books, crayons, and snacks. At those young ages, toys seem to be the only essential travel item. This means that my bag ends up filled with actual essentials, ranging from clothes, to hand sanitizer, to tooth brushes and tooth paste, to shampoo, to you name it.
I used to try to fight them on what to bring, but a midafternoon meltdown can often be prevented with the right toy, so I’ve learned to let them pack what they want. However, this often means that their bags end up overstuffed. The X-rays scanners used at my work and at airports do not see details very clearly. Inevitably, at least one, but usually three, and sometimes even my bag, needs to be searched.
I always end up apologizing profusely to the security officers as they pull out stuffed animals, dinosaurs, toy cars, and crayons. The security check table ends up looking like a disaster area.
One day, while heading to work, I saw a woman with a clear bag. The security offers gave the bag a quick once over, after it came out of the scanner, and sent the woman on her way. And that’s when I realized the solution to all my travelling woes.
My friend suggested I check out The Clear Bag Store, where I found the perfect bag for each of my children. They each got their own small backpack. I even got a pink one for my girl. Each child got to pick out a Gutzie to identify their bag with. My youngest son picked the dragon Gutzies while my oldest son picked the Dalmatian Gutzies. My daughter fell in love with the cat and butterfly Gutzies. While the kids love the bags, so does security. Now the security officers can see into their bags much more easily. There have been less instances of needing to empty the bags to see what is inside.
The bags have become so convenient that I ended up buying one myself. The medium diaper bag is the best bag I ever bought. Whether I’m trying to get through security to go to work or I’m travelling to visit my parents with my kids, it takes all the hassle out of getting through security lines. Travelling has become such a breeze now that the security offers don’t have to open up the bags to search them.
Getting through security lines faster has made travelling much easier on my children as well. Travelling can be exhausting for three kids so young, and speeding up the security process has made it much less stressful for them.
Does the NFL just hate bags in general? It’s starting to seem so. Instead of an organised policy that has a clear line to security concerns, the whole debacle is starting to smell like a simple hatred for the convenience of bags of all kinds. In fact, NFL Chief of Security Jeffrey Miller was even quoted as saying ‘We encourage our fans not to bring any type of bags.’ And not only is the NFL’s War on Bags obvious from quotes like that, it’s obvious from the league’s actions as well.
Stash or Trash
The new policy is confusing on many levels. First of all, few teams or stadiums have taken the trouble to clearly post the guidelines or reminders of the new clears bag policy around game days, resulting in many fans arriving to games months after hearing about the new policy – and promptly forgetting all about it.
Second, many assumed that small purses and other bags would be allowed – which they are, but only within very tight guidelines that aren’t easily found anywhere. As a result, many fans are being faced with stern security personnel on game day who offer them standard freezer-style plastic bags and tell them they can transfer their belongings to these bags and either stash their purses and backpacks in their cars – or throw them away.
That’s right, an option being offered fans at the ticket gate is to take the bags they spent good money on and throw them in the trash.
Even fans who remembered the new policy are suffering as they give up on figuring out the requirements and forego bags altogether – resulting in a spike of Lost and Found claims in stadiums around the country as phones, wallets, and other items pop out of pockets when people leap up to react to plays.
Even worse, the bags for sale on the NFL’s official web site are confusing, because many of the bags for sale do not conform to the new policy, but fans might be forgiven for assuming they would, since they’re being sold by the NFL itself. This has led to the occasional super indignity of buying a new bag specifically to take to games and then having to throw it away at the gate.
More and more fans are discovering solutions on the web, however. The Clear Bag Store, for example, has expanded its NFL-compliant offerings to include the His and Hers RUN bags (in black and pink, carefully designed to comply with all NFL requirements (clear plastic, vinyl or PVC no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches). Other options are also starting to pop up as fan frustration with the War on Bags continues to get attention.
In the meantime, the NFL needs to get out there and make the new policy clear and well-publicised so fans don’t get confused and lose their bags to the garbage when they attend a game!
I am an avid crafter. I am always knitting, sewing, drawing, and painting. I am often working on multiple projects at once, and I like to take them with me when I go to visit friends. Usually, I end up shoving all of my supplies into an old backpack. Inevitably, things get lost and my yarn gets tangled, but none of those were enough to motivate me to invest in a better bag. That is, not until I visited my best friend Susan.
Susan needed some help with a craft project of her own and knew who to call. Quickly, I dumped all of my supplies into my old backpack and drove to her house. While there, I set my bag down on her carpet as she showed me the old wooden desk she wanted to paint. I told her I had plenty of colors and reached into my bag.
My hand came up blue. In a panic, I realized one of my paint jars had opened up. Mortified, I lifted up my bag to see that the paint had seeped onto her white carpet! I apologized profusely and attempted to clean it up but with no success. I of course told her that I would pay for a cleaner. Being a good friend, she said I didn’t need to, but of course I insisted, embarrassed that I had stained her carpet.
Then I remembered I drove to her house. Was the paint leaking in my car too? I ran to my car to see a fist sized blue stain on my seat. I groaned, looking between my ruined backpack and my car.
To thank me for hiring a professional to clean her carpet, Susan bought me a multi purpose bag from The Clear Bag Store. At first I laughed about it, but you know what? That bag has come in handy! I moved all my crafting supplies into it the next day. The multiple interior pockets are great for organization. I can sort all of my paintbrushes and knitting needles. The clear bag also makes for easy clean up in the event of another paint spill-it wipes right off! But the inner and outer nylon lining ensures that none of my paints will ever leak out again. The bag also has a handy shoulder strap, as well as handles, so I can carry it whatever way is most comfortable. But the best part of the bag is being able to see everything that’s in it. There’s no more digging around and getting my yarn tangled in everything. Instead, all I have to do is look at what for what I need and reach in and grab it! I loved the clear bag so much that I even ended up buying a clear pencil case so I can always find whatever colored pencil I need in an instant. While I’m sorry I damaged her carpet, I am so thankful that Sue found me a solution to all my crafting woes.