A fellow mom in my neighborhood recently organized an informative Girl’s Night at her house. In addition to the usual snacks and drinks, she also invited a few of our local police officers (contracted by our neighborhood HOA) to come and share a few safety tips with all of us, in preparation for the busy, holiday season. (Which typically sees a spike in petty crime and burglary.) Here’s what they had to say…
Safety Tips for the Holidays
- Avoid getting out and about (think holiday shopping) at night (when possible). If you do have to get out, make sure to park in a well-lit area. Park as close to your destination as possible, and remember where you parked! Wandering around a dark, parking lot all by yourself is never a good idea.
- Keep all car doors and windows closed and locked (whether in or out of the vehicle). Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with blacked out windows.
- Never leave your car running unoccupied.
- Never leave your children or pets in your car.
- Never leave valuables out in your car — this only tempts thieves! If you must leave something valuable in your car, hide it or lock it in your trunk.
- Always locate your keys before heading outside to your car. Try carrying your keys pointing out towards a potential aggressor, between your thumb and forefinger.
- Keep a secure grasp on your purse and packages. Do not set these items down in order to get into your car. Once inside the car, lock your doors and immediately make your exit. If you have to load small children into carseats, get everyone into the vehicle, lock the doors, and then secure your littles into their seats.
- NEVER talk or surf on your phone while walking through a parking lot to your vehicle. Pay attention to your surroundings. Stay off your phone after getting into your car — dawdling in a parking lot, especially during the busy holiday season is just asking for trouble. You never want to appear distracted. This makes you vulnerable.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area. If you think that someone is watching you, boldly stare them straight in the eyes. An attacker is less likely to assault someone who might recognize him or her. If a stranger approaches you, do not feel compelled to have to make small talk.
- Keep a close eye on your children in stores and other public locations. Do not allow them to wander off alone. If they have trouble listening or behaving in public places, maybe consider keeping them at home during this “peak” season.
- Know how to handle yourself if someone does try to attack you. Carry pepper spray or a concealed weapon (if you have a license and are comfortable using it). Never carry something you aren’t prepared to use — it could be used against you.
- If you think you are being followed, do NOT drive straight home. Drive around until you lose the suspicious vehicle. Another idea is to head to your nearest police station. A criminal isn’t very likely to follow you into that parking lot.
- Never open your door to someone you don’t know, or aren’t expecting. It may be an attempt to force their way into your home. Ask anyone official to show you a badge or some other kind of ID. Most companies will let you know beforehand if they are sending someone out to make any kind of repair. Unsure? Make a call to the supposed company — do NOT let the stranger into your home, yard, or garage without proper clearance.
- Keep all home windows and doors locked.
Follow your gut instincts. Your intuitions are usually correct. Don’t be afraid to call the police if something doesn’t seem right. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Especially this time of year! Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!
About the author…After three blissful years in the Treasure State, Jessica recently moved back to Houston, Texas with her hunky husband and her three precious little girls, Savannah Leigh, Emma Kate, and Brooklyn Olivia. Jessica is a small business owner with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, and a nerd-like love for political science. She is passionate about writing, marketing, social media management, and this wonderfully beautiful mess we call parenthood.