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!