Cold nights, fireplaces, the fresh scent of pine – all markers that the holiday season is upon us. As residents enjoy the glistening light displays around the city and frequent local shops for the perfect gift for their loved ones, criminals are scoping out the next opportunity to strike. While enjoying one of the most wonderful times of the year, be sure to take some of these holiday safety tips into account to protect your valuables.
There are five simple words to keep in mind this holiday season – Lock It or Lose It. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of gift shopping and forget the most basic form of protection, locking your vehicle. Store all of your purchases in the trunk of your car out of sight of would-be thieves. Keep your valuables with you at all times and make sure you leave nothing unattended in your vehicle. Even a simple jacket on the floor may spark interest if criminals think something may be hidden underneath.
With the days getting shorter, it’s important to take extra precautions if you are out and about at night. Make sure you’re parking in well-lit areas as close to your destination as possible. Dark parking lots are a treasure trove for thieves who may be scouting for people to load their cars with purchases before entering another store. Try to do all your shopping at once to ensure valuable, big-ticket items are not left unattended. If you are purchasing large objects that you cannot carry with you, such as a television, buy those last to avoid having them sit in the car while you make other purchases.
If the holidays bring about exciting vacations for you and your family, there are things you can do to safeguard your home while you’re away. For those who want to showcase their adventures on social media, be sure to leave out vital information, such as the length of time you are away. Criminals can use this information to target your house if they know it will be empty. Have a trusted family member, friend or neighbor keep an eye on your home and make sure to let the post office or any newspaper delivery service know if you will be absent for a long period of time, as they can pause your deliveries. If you have the ability to set your lights on a timer, utilize that feature to give the impression that the house is occupied at night.
While thefts can surely rob your holiday joy, there is another silent threat to be aware of. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, 30% of all home fires occur during the winter months. As you adorn your Christmas tree with those beautiful sparkling lights, take a moment to ensure everything is working correctly. Inspect your lights for any sign of damage such as cracked or frayed cords, or any sockets without bulbs. Plan to plug in no more than three sets of lights into a single extension cord as this can cause them to overheat. Ensure your trees are watered regularly to keep the branches from becoming dry and brittle, which can expose them to potential electrical fires. Before going to bed, make sure all lights on the tree are turned off.
Don’t let the Grinch steal your Christmas this year. By keeping safety in mind and taking precautions while out shopping or on vacation, you can help protect yourself and your belongings. Make sure you decorate safely and keep your tree well hydrated. These tips are my gift to you to help keep your holiday season merry and bright. From myself and Virginia, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Bill Miranda is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].