Be safe, be smart, and be aware

The winter holidays are coming up, a barrage of Thanksgiving, winter break for students, Christmas, and the New Year. It’s a time when we are spending money more freely, if we can, and a time when we may not be as alert to criminals and danger.

Here are a few reminders to help keep you safe.

Safety Tip #1: Think like a thief

Try to break into your own home, suggests home security blogger Chad Coakley. This will show you where the weaknesses in your security system are that may have previously escaped your notice.

Safety tip #2: It’s in your hands

Keep your keys, ID, and bus pass close at hand. When catching the bus or riding in a cab, keep your bus pass or fare in your hand, so you won’t have to open your wallet. At night, keep car keys next to your bed while you sleep. If you think someone is trying to break in, you can press the “Panic” button on your key ring to set off your car alarm, recommends Ira Lipman in his book, “How to Be Safe.”

Safety tip #3: Keep it locked

Lock your doors, windows, and garage door even when you’re at home, suggests the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Don’t leave keys “hidden” outside your home, and use quality locks – preferably deadbolt locks. In hotels, use the door chain or bolt lock whenever you are in your room, use the peephole before opening the door to visitors, and never mention your room number in a public place or leave your room key on restaurant or bar tables.

Safety tip #4: No days off from keeping safe

If you’re going on vacation, mow your lawn before you leave. Ask a neighbor to pick up flyers, newspapers, and mail left on your door, and park in your driveway while you are away. Load your car right before you leave. Label your bags with your name and address, but use your work address or the place you’ll be staying, suggests Ira Lipman in “How to Be Safe.”

Safety tip #5: Practice describing a person

How observant are you? At home, work, and school, and on the go, play a “describe the suspect” game. Don’t look into a person’s eyes, suggests the Honolulu Police Department in a brochure, “How to Describe a Suspect.” Instead, pay attention to facial features: the shape of the head, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, hair style, and ears. Look for distinguishing features like marks, scars, moles, and facial characteristics. Observe their clothes, footwear, and jewelry. Listen for speech patterns. Your observations could be crucial in identifying and prosecuting a suspect.

Safety tip #6: Be prepared to protect yourself

Almost anything can be a weapon: a shoe, high heels, a book, a heavy backpack, declares Lipman. Ordinary items like keys, a pen or pencil, a corkscrew, pepper, lemon juice in a squeeze bottle, or hairspray can be used against an attacker’s eyes.

Are you safe enough? How do you keep yourself and your belongings safe when you are at the beach, shopping, or traveling?

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