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ECSO gives holiday safety tips

POSTED: December 16, 2013 8:34 p.m.

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office offers the following safety tips for the holiday season.


Driving
• Avoid driving alone or at night.
• Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
• If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.
• Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.
• Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.
• Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
• Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
• Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.
• Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
• When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
• Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
• Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.


Automated teller machine (ATM)
• If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a police station, mall, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.
• Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.
• Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.


Shopping
• Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
• Dress casually and comfortably.
• Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
• Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.
• Always carry your Georgia Driver License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.
• Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
• Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
• Keep cash in your front pocket.
• Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.
• Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
• Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.
• Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
• Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, «con-artists» may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.


Children
• If possible, leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter.
• Teach your child to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case your child is separated from you.
• Teach children to stay close to you at all times while shopping.
• Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom.
• Children should never be allowed to go to the car alone and they should never be left alone in the car.
• Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security. Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.


At home
• Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.
• When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
• Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.
• Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.
• Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
• When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday display, make sure doors and passageways are clear inside your home.
• Be sure your Christmas tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves.
• If you use lights on your Christmas tree ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed. Frayed or damaged wiring can cause a fire.
• Place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.
• Never place wrapping paper in your fireplace.


Strangers at your door
• Be aware that criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.
• It is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people during the holiday season by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes although no charity is involved.
• Ask for their identification, and find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate.
• Donate to a recognized charitable organization.

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