It’s that time of year when we’re often in a hurry to check off those lists, see loved ones and do everything in-between. It’s also important to be extra prudent with your safety and security. Hanging holiday lights on our homes is part of the fun, and it’s important to make sure you’re doing it safety. Here are some tips on decorating safely, and other ways to keep you and your family safe and sound this holiday season.
Always decorate with safety in mind
- Plan decorating and lighting ahead of time to reduce potential safety hazards.
- Use only Underwriters' Laboratory-approved lights, and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Before placing holiday lights outside on your home or on trees, look up to locate any overhead power lines. Keep all objects such as ladders and extension poles more than 10 feet away. Never toss lights near or across an overhead power line.
- Check the cords on strings of lights and replace any that are frayed, worn or won’t light up. Discard all that are in poor condition. Unplug lights before hanging them, and unplug them when asleep or away from home
- Avoid attaching too many light strings together and plugging them into one outlet. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for recommended maximum number of strings per outlet.
- Keep lights away from combustible materials, including draperies.
- Keep lights away from metal railings and banisters, which can become energized if the wire has a short circuit. Avoid stringing lights along aluminum siding, which can conduct electricity. Never use lights on metallic trees. Make sure rooftop decorations don't block vents or vent pipes.
Out and about shopping
The overall emphasis when hitting the malls or stores is to be aware of your situation – and don’t draw unwelcome attention. A little planning can make for a safe and enjoyable experience.
Things to remember:
- Don’t overload your arms while walking through public areas. Bring a buddy or make another trip.
- Keep your car parked in a close-by, well-lit area and away from vans, trucks with camper shells, or vehicles with darkly tinted windows. If it takes a little longer to find a better spot, take the time to do it.
- Make sure packages are out of sight before leaving your vehicle. A blanket is helpful to cover packages.
- Don’t approach your car alone if there are suspicious people near it. Never hesitate to ask a security guard to escort you, that’s what they are there to do.
Every year web-based shopping grows. No wonder, it’s convenient and easy. So it’s smart to remind yourself of the best practices.
Keep in mind:
- Stick with reputable, trusted retailers and be wary of offers via social media. Scammers are out there so do a double take before placing any order.
- Make sure the web address (URL) has the SSL lock icon on your address bar or an address that begins with https:
- A DigiCert or Symantec Website Security symbol on the payment details page is a good sign. Other options to keep you secure are using E-wallets like ApplePay or PayPal.
- Never use a debit card. Use a credit card, because it offers extra protection.
- Don’t shop or access personal accounts using public Wi-Fi.
- Beware of email scams and always use strong passwords.
Travel: Hitting the roads or skies
Be prepared for the unexpected. Having a Plan B or even Plan C is a smart strategy when traveling.
- Get yourself in air travel mode. Expect increased security, never leave bags unattended. Pack your medications in your carry-on luggage – and a few snacks also. Pay attention to travel advisories.
- Protect your home. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; keep carbon monoxide detectors in low places such as basements, stairways, or near the floor in rooms. Avoid pipe freezes by opening cabinets to ensure warm air circulation if extreme cold weather is forecasted. Also, place Holiday lights on a timer or unplug them.
- Be smart with your smartphone. Pre-program your emergency numbers, especially when in a different state or county. Practice calling for help. When walking and on the phone, always look up and stay aware.
- Ready your vehicle. Inspect your car and check your tires. Have food, water, blankets emergency/first aid kit and a battery-powered portable radio. Pack a shovel if possible.
- Get Cyber-wise. Use protective RFID-blocking sleeves for credit cards and protect your passwords in public WI-FI. As fun as it may seem, never announce your trip on social media. Do tell trusted neighbors and relatives of your itinerary.
One final thought, take advantage of your credit card’s protections. Know what services, like travel monitoring or purchase notifications, your credit card provider offers to help keep you and your finances secure.
Hope these suggestions will help you remain safe and secure this season.