Holiday season safety tips
‘Tis the season to deck the halls…falalalala lala la la! Yes, it is already that time of year again! Holiday festivities (and chaos!) are just around the corner, and there is no better time to ensure that you and your family are safe.
Holiday season safety infographic
The holiday season safety infographic provides tips on:
- Having a party
- Around the house
- Shopping safely
- Heading out of town
Around the house
- Remove snow and ice, and put sand or salt on walkways and driveways. Arrange to have this done even when you are away.
- Carefully discard packaging from big ticket items, bundling cardboard boxes to conceal the nature of their contents.
- Keep a record of your valuables. Identify property by engraving an identifying mark.
- Install timers in different areas of your house to turn lights and radios on and off at different times.
- Wait before posting those fab holiday pics on Facebook. Broadcasting you are on vacation through social media, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, is generally not a good idea, even if you have a high privacy setting.
- Buy a bright green and fragrant, freshly cut tree. The high moisture content makes it less of a fire hazard; just make sure you always keep the trunk immersed in water.
- Use a tree stand with wide legs for stability.
- Keep the tree away from heat sources (fireplaces, radiators, TV’s, heating ducts, etc.) and ensure it does not block any windows or doors.
- Remove the tree in 10-14 days.
- Choose ones that are flame retardant, non-combustible, and non-conductive.
- Avoid the highly combustible combination of angel hair (glass wool) and spray snow.
- Use Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certified lights and string sets, and make sure they are the proper lights for the environment. Outside lights may burn too hot for indoor use and indoor lights are not weatherproof.
- Be careful not to overload electrical outlets.
- Cut candle wicks short to prevent high flame.
- Don’t burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packaging.
- Don’t use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Always use a screen.
- Remove stockings from mantels when the fireplace is in use.
If a crime has occurred, do not enter your home
- Use your cell or a neighbour’s phone to call the police.
- Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
- Note the license plate number of any suspicious vehicles.
- Note the description of any suspicious person(s).
The holiday season is a busy time for couriers, Canada Post and mail thieves.
Don’t leave mail in a mailbox. Collect your mail promptly after delivery. Unattended mail is a treasure trove of personal information for potential thieves.
Plan ahead. If you'll be away, let Canada Post hold your mail until you return.
- Don’t just recycle. Shred documents that contain personal financial information, such as statements and credit card offers.
Having a party
With holiday parties about to swing into full gear, are you prepared to be a responsible host? Follow these tips to ensure your party is a hit and your guests make it home safe.
- Never serve alcohol to minors.
- Post a standard drinks guide on the fridge or near the food and drink areas so guests are aware.
Have a plan to prevent drinking and driving
- Encourage guests to name designated drivers or leave vehicles at home and take taxis, public transit or walk.
- Either don’t drink or limit your own drinking of alcohol, so you can be aware of how much your guests are drinking.
- Know your guests. It makes it much easier to monitor changes in behaviour.
- Monitor and supervise the serving of alcohol or designate a responsible adult
- Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends.
- See guests in and out. Greeting everyone gives you the opportunity to assess their condition.
- Keep cash and numbers of cab companies handy.
Keep the focus off alcohol
- Serve food with protein and fat. Salt makes people drink more and sugar does not mix well with alcohol.
- Have lots of non-alcoholic choices.
What to do if a guest is drunk
- Encourage them to give you their car keys. Teaming up with a buddy can help.
- Inform them a cab has been called. Asking them if you can call them a cab gives them the opportunity to refuse.
- If they are very drunk, keep them with you until they have sobered up or can be left with another sober, responsible adult.
- Remember that only time, and not food or drink, sobers someone. Be prepared to offer a spare bed.
- If the person insists on driving, call the police. This could be the difference between an upset friend and far more tragic consequences.
Remember, drinking and driving kills. The choice to drive or not to drive is yours. Please be a responsible adult and make the right choice. You could be saving a life and it might be yours.
Get a free ride from Operation Red Nose
Operation Red Nose is a nation-wide volunteer driving service and awareness campaign, dedicated to preventing drinking and driving.
Three person teams can be called to drive you and your vehicle home safely between the hours of 9:00 pm and 3:00 am, with donations being redistributed to local youth organizations.
Avoid making a mistake that could harm yourself and others, and instead give to those in need. Talk about getting into the holiday spirit!
Local phone numbers for Operation Red Nose can be found on their website at: https://operationrednose.com
When doing your shopping
- Don’t withdraw more money than you need when visiting ATM’s. Thieves lurk in parking lots around financial institutions. Be aware of your surroundings and take note of anyone following you.
- Men should carry their wallets in their front pockets as opposed to their back pockets or jackets.
- Women should carry their purses close to their body, but should not wrap their purse straps around themselves. Doing so could cause you to be dragged down to the ground in the event that your purse is snatched.
- Avoid using revolving doors, as thieves with good timing can grab your parcels and get away by the time it takes you to emerge.
- Never leave your purchases unattended, even for a short period of time.
- If possible, park under lighting, and close to entrances or exits.
- Under no circumstances should you leave your children unattended in your vehicle, even for a short period of time.
- Don’t use your vehicle as a storage locker. Place all of your purchases in your trunk. While you are shopping for gifts in stores, thieves are shopping for gifts in the parking lot.
At a store
- Keep an eye on anyone who handles your debit or credit card.
- Be sure a cashier only swipes your card once - identity criminals sometimes use small devices that look like store equipment to copy your card information and then use it fraudulently.
- Get your card back promptly and shred all credit card receipts.
Is it a reputable retailer? Only shop at reputable e-commerce sites. Look for the lock symbol and "https" at the beginning of the URL. This shows the site uses a secured encryption to protect your data.
Meet in public places. When purchasing items from individuals online, don’t complete transactions in their home or yours. Instead, arrange to meet in a public place like a mall or coffee shop.
Have you checked the blacklist? Before buying a smartphone, check the status of your device in Canada to ensure it was not stolen.
Avoid charity scams
Fraudsters can take advantage of the holiday season by creating bogus fundraising operations. Ensure your donations are going to legitimate charities by logging onto the Better Business Bureau of British Columbia. The web site has information on charities and businesses in the province.
Watch out for phishing and smishing
It is a tactic used to acquire your personal information such as passwords, user name and credit card details. The email/text will often include a link to a website that masquerades as a real site from a bank or retailer asking you to login to confirm your password or update your personal information.
Enjoying the outdoors
A winter wonderland can pose many hazards for pedestrians and vehicles alike. Consider the following safety tips this winter before leaving the house.
Not only is walking a great way to stay fit, there is no better time to do it than when the air is crisp, the ground is covered in snow, and you can really enjoy the beauty of the season.
- Remove snow and ice, and put sand or salt on walkways. Report sidewalk or pathway hazards to your landlord or city.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Invest in a good pair of waterproof winter boots with a thick, non-slip sole and low wide heel.
- Ice grippers can be helpful on packed snow and ice.
- Use caution! Remember that bad falls on ice can have long-term consequences such as chronic pain, disabling injury, and fear of another fall.
Going on a road trip?
- Wear your seatbelt correctly. Lap belts should be low and snug over the hips, while shoulder belts should be worn across the chest.
- Use a restraint system that is appropriate for your child’s height and weight. Remember, the safest place for children 12 and under is in the rear side of your vehicle.
- Install 4 identical snow tires.
- Clear all snow and ice from all windows, hood, roof, and lights before driving.
- Make sure you have lots of windshield fluid.
- Keep an emergency kit and warm blankets in the trunk.
- Let someone know your travel plans before you leave and be aware of travel and road conditions.
Before heading out to a back country
Plan and be prepared
- Bring along an avalanche beacon, probe, shovel, warm clothing, survival kit, first aid kit, and basic tool kit.
- Leave an itinerary with someone, and don't go alone.
- Never rely on other snowmobilers to bail you out. Ride within your limits and ride with respect to the area you are riding in.
Join your local snowmobile club. You will be amazed with the people and wealth of experience that the club has to offer.
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