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Personal Safety During the Holidays

‘Tis the season to enjoy quality time with family and friends, good food, and gifts, but it’s also a time when we need to be ever-more diligent about personal safety and protecting your family and home.

Travel – Last year, according to AAA, roughly 107.3 million Americans were expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during December 23rd through the new year. So many travelers during the holidays means millions of homes will be unoccupied for several hours or even days. Here are some things you can do to make your home a little safer while you travel:

  1. It seems like a no brainer, but many people don’t, or forget to, lock their windows and doors and set their alarm. Do a quick check of all access points to your home just prior to leaving. About one third of home break-ins are attributed to easy access.
  1. If you are leaving for several days, stop your newspaper and mail deliveries. A buildup of mail or newspapers is a quick indicator that no one’s home. The postal service makes it easy to suspend mail service. Visit USPS’ website to schedule a hold on your mail.
  1. Leave a few lights on throughout your house to make it look like someone is home. If possible, use programmable timers for the lights to go on off at different times in different rooms.
  1. Tell your neighbor your travel plans and ask them to keep an eye out for strangers or vehicles that don’t look like they belong. If you typically have a vehicle in your driveway, ask your neighbor to park in your driveway while you’re away.
  1. Don’t post your travel plans on social media. Ask your family members to keep the information offline. Social media sites are frequently trolled by criminals looking for information.

Personal Safety While Shopping – If you look like prey, you’ll attract predators.

  1. When walking to and from your car, walk with confidence and keep your eyes off your phone. Scan the area for anyone that might be watching you.
  1. If you feel uncomfortable, stay in your vehicle or in the store.
  1. Make sure your keys are in your hand before you leave the store and get into your vehicle as quickly as possible.
  1. Don’t overburden yourself with bags and packages. It will limit your mobility, vision, and attention, making you vulnerable.
  1. If you are in a parking lot and you feel like you are being followed, keep vehicles in between you and the person following you.
  1. Park only in well-lit areas.
  1. If possible, don’t shop alone.
  1. If someone attempts to grab you, scream and yell. Making noise will attract attention the attacker doesn’t want and could draw help to you quicker. If they try to drag you away from a vehicle, fight back. Abductions rarely end well. Your highest chance for escape is before they ever get you into a vehicle.

Maybe some of these tips seem like common sense, or maybe you have heard them before, but they only work if put into practice. The key to your personal safety is being diligent and staying alert when so many other things pull for your attention during the holiday season.