Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tips on Staying Safe During this Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We wouldn't be a true public safety company if this time of year didn't conjure up a little alarmist in us all. Halloween with its kids' safety issues. Thanksgiving with its kitchen, deep fryer and drinking issues. And Christmas with the fire hazards and burglary potential. We would like to remind you all that once you strip away the technologies (the body worn video, the smart cameras, the biometric applications) -- the one fundamental goal for all in law enforcement is to keep you safe. Read on for holiday-specific tips and reminders.

Yes, Halloween has passed. We reminded you through our Facebook page to keep the kids safe, and to stay on well-lit and well-traveled streets. Well that holds true for this time of year in general. With the clocks set back and the darkness setting in sooner, it's getting easier to lose track of those neighborhood playdates.

Please remind your children to be home earlier. A cul-de-sac football game that starts right after school could easily go until 5 or 6 o'clock at night without the energetic players taking a breather. But now it's dark even before 5 o'clock. Make sure there is enough light where the kids are playing so that cars will notice them easily. Better yet, make an afternoon curfew to get the kids home before dusk. If this means swapping their homework time to after dinner, instead of right after school, that may be your best bet to escape any resistance on this new plan. Just take extra precautions with the early darkness and the potential desolation of darkened neighborhood streets.

As for Thanksgiving, lots of unwatched pots are boiling. An extremely hot deep fryer may even be sizzling away. And houseguests are coming, going, "helping", distracting and interrupting. We have a lot on our minds -- just make sure that safety in cooking is one of them. Set and adhere to timers. Assign jobs out to other guests, and make sure they follow up on them.

And watch the amount of alcohol. A glass or two of wine with dinner is one thing. But there are people that start drinking first thing in the morning (kegs and eggs, anyone?), and don't stop until right before they leave their host's house for the night. As the host, you have an obligation not to over serve. So take guests up on their offers to help in the kitchen and with the grill outside. You have more to focus on than just the presentation of a perfectly cooked turkey.

Then there's Christmas. Obviously we know by now that dry Christmas trees and exorbitant amounts of lights left unattended do not mix. Be careful with your decorations. Do not overload any outlets. Don’t leave lights on over night or when you are away from home. And do not place your tree too close to heating ducts that will expedite the drying process or even pieces of furniture that will burn if in fact a small fire does occur. Also make sure smoke detectors have fresh batteries and sprinklers (if your house is equipped with them) are in working order.

Also be extra cautious with your belongings, your car and your house. This time of year people are desperate for extra money and it is prime break-in season. Keep doors locked and alarms on at all times. Use a hidden safe to store expensive items and extra cash. The news is already reporting a rash of burglaries in South Shore towns of Massachusetts. Now is the time to prepare and be vigilant.

Be aware of your surroundings, when walking through darkened parking lots, and keep your cell phone handy in case you need to call 911 immediately. Always lock doors as soon as you enter your car -- try to only unlock the driver's door if you are alone. Diligence and observation are your best defenses, so don't text while you are walking to your car, or even while you are idling in the parking lot. Get in and start moving. Don't make yourself an easy target.

This time is year is filled with joy, excitement, happiness and expectations. And the more we arm ourselves with proper preparedness, common sense and proactive organization, the more we can actually enjoy it. So remember these pointers, and prepare to have a safe and secure winter season.

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