Holiday Safety Tips
Yulee, Fla. – For many of us the holiday season is a festive one and a very busy time of year. It is a time when we find ourselves shopping and decorating and even planning a joyful holiday gathering for friends and family. Criminals, unfortunately, know this all too well and are preparing just the same.
Sheriff Bill Leeper and the men and women at the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office work diligently, every day of the year, in an effort to provide a safe environment for the citizens of Nassau County. “Many times criminal acts can be prevented if we all do our part, and just follow a few of these common sense safety tips and precautions,” said Sheriff Leeper. “The entire Nassau County Sheriff’s Office family and I want you and your family to enjoy this holiday season.”
We have taken some time to prepare the following holiday safety tips in order to help you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
Travel Safety Tips
- Do not drink and drive and do not allow someone else to drink and drive.
- Wear a seat belt every time you operate or ride in a motor vehicle.
- Always buckle children in a child safety seat, a booster seat or a seat belt according to his/her height, weight, age.
- Know where you are going and how to get there and back.
- Obtain or download a map
- Carry a GPS
- Check for construction detours
- For longer trips, obtain a weather forecast.
- Inform a family member or friend where you will be and when you expect to return. Give them your route of travel if you know it.
- Travel and conduct business during daylight hours, if possible.
- If you have a cellular phone, carry or take it with you. Do not use it while driving; this is unlawful in some states.
- Keep doors locked while driving.
- Maintain at least 1/2 tank of fuel and keep the vehicle in good repair.
- The single most essential safety tip – devote your full time attention to driving.
Shopping Safety Tips
- Shop with friends or relatives – there is safety in numbers.
- Remain alert in crowded places.
- Always supervise children, especially when going to the restroom.
- Small children should know their first and last name so they can tell a person of authority if the child becomes lost.
- If a child becomes separated from you, have a predetermined plan where you will meet or what you will do (i.e., have them seek out a store clerk or a security guard). The child should NEVER go outside to look for you or wait by the car.
- If older children go to the mall (or other activities) without you, you should know where they are at all times. They should check in with you by phone frequently – they should not go alone.
- Using a debit or credit card is much safer than carrying a lot of cash.
Vehicle and Parking Lot Safety Tips
- If possible, do not leave items (i.e., valuables) in plain view in your vehicle.
- If you must leave items in your vehicle, place them out of sight before you arrive at your destination.
- Lock the GPS, iPod, etc. in the glove compartment. Lock up the docking station(s) and the connector cables, too.
- Some of the most commonly stolen items in vehicle burglaries include loose change, briefcases, backpacks, gym bags, lap-top computers, cell phones, and day planners.
- Park in well-lighted busy areas.
- Lock all doors every time you exit the vehicle.
- Set the alarm or the anti-theft device.
- Keep your keys in your hand and remain alert to your surroundings – Criminals do not like eye contact.
- Check the trunk (to be sure it is locked), the back seat, and under the vehicle before you get in it.
- Do not clip or hang any identification tag to the rearview mirror – these can be targeted items for identity theft.
- Do not hide your key on your vehicle while you are shopping – take it with you.
- Never leave your engine running for any reason while you are away from the vehicle.
- Avoid placing your HOME address in your GPS in case it gets stolen – this allows the suspect to go to your home while you are still shopping.
Banking and ATM Safety Tips
- If there is anyone suspicious at or near the ATM, select another ATM.
- Use the “fisheye” mirror (if one is provided) to see what is going on behind you.
- If followed, call 9-1-1.
- Use the drive-up instead of going in to the bank branch.
- Protect your PIN number – do not carry it with you.
- Photocopy the front/back of your credit and debit cards. Keep that information in a safe place. If they are lost or stolen, you will have easy access to the information.
- Review bank and credit card statements promptly and report discrepancies.
Home Safety Tips
- Keep the doors and windows locked.
- If you receive large and or costly gifts (not just during the holidays), cut up the boxes and turn them inside out before placing them out at the curb for removal. You do not want to advertise that you just got a new 55 inch television!
- Set the alarm when not at home.
- Do not use voices and names of children on the answering machine – this allows predators the knowledge that children live in your home.
- If you are a female living alone, leave the generic outgoing message on the machine.
- Watch for the mail. Thieves tend to look in mailboxes for checks and cash in Christmas cards.
- Mail outgoing mail at the post office to avoid having it stolen – never put outgoing mail in your mailbox overnight.
- Consider opening a post office box during the holiday season.