SEASONAL SAFETY TIPS
Christmas for many people unfortunately isn’t always “Jolly and Bright” because inevitably the holidays see an increase in crime as does the number of citizens go shopping and socializing. The Smithfield Police Department is offering the following tips to get you through the holidays SAFELY.
It's wise to do some research on a website before you purchase something and hand over your credit card information. Log on to the company website yourself. DO NOT enter through an emailed link. Also check the Better Business Bureau to see if they have had any complaints about the company. Look for a padlock icon in the upper right corner of any page asking for your credit card information to indicate it is secure.
Shopping in Person:
Try not to take your eyes off your debit or credit card when someone else is handling it and make sure store employees only swipe your card once. Keep watch of your personal belongings at all times and don’t leave your purse unattended. If you must store your purchases in your car, make sure they're in the trunk and that your trunk opener inside your car is deactivated. Again, if you must use your car to go shopping, park somewhere well lighted and don't leave valuables inside your car where they can be seen. Don’t leave your car running and always remove your keys from the ignition or door locks.
Whether you're a guest or a host, you need to have a plan to prevent drinking and driving. Remember that it's not always easy to tell if someone is over the legal limit to safely drive and that time is the only thing that can sober someone up (not coffee or food). Ahead of time determine who the designated drivers in your group will be or have a plan to take a taxi ahead of time. As a host, be prepared and consider limiting your own drinking so you can be more aware of how much your guests are drinking. If you believe one of your friends is too drunk to drive, ask them for their keys and call them a taxi; alternatively, you can stay with them until they are sober or offer them a spare bed for the night. If you are unable to stop someone who shouldn't be driving, you will need to call the police. As difficult as it may be, the potential for serious or deadly harm to your friend and others is a very real possibility when behind the wheel.
Traveling by Car:
This time of year, even in Smithfield, the roads can become slippery and you may encounter black ice.
So check road conditions before you set out at Isle of Wight Alert or your local weather news station. Always wear a seat-belt and stick to well-traveled roads when possible and take a cell phone and car charger for emergencies. Ensure your car is in good mechanical condition and have the correct car seats for children and make sure they are installed properly. Keep an emergency kit and blankets in your trunk. If you need to use your GPS or your cell phone, pull over to the side of the road when it's safe to do so. Always advise someone of your travel route and the times you plan to leave home and arrive at your destination.
If your holiday plans include travel elsewhere, you will want to take steps to protect your home and its belongings while you are away. Have a friend or neighbor visit your home often to check on things. Invest in a timer for your lights, cancel your newspaper and arrange for your mail to be on hold at the local post office until your return date. You may be excited about your big trip, but it's not wise to advertise your plans in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Lastly, holiday safety tips wouldn't be complete without some fire prevention advice. These tips are from the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department. If you have a fresh-cut Christmas tree, make sure to water it regularly to help it retain moisture; if you purchase an artificial tree, make sure that it is fire retardant. Keep all flammable items at least three feet from your space heaters and ensure your heaters are CSA or UL approved. Keep candles away from combustible materials and never use lighted candles on or near a Christmas tree and don’t ever leave your home or go to bed with candles burning. Remember; working smoke alarms save lives so press the test button on your smoke alarm once a month to ensure it is working and don’t forget to change the battery once a year (Christmas or New Year’s). If your smoke alarm is more than ten years old, it’s time to change it. God forbid there be a fire but if you do remember; smoke from a fire can hurt or kill you long before the flames ever get near you, so make a point of sleeping with your bedroom door closed.
913 S Church Street
Smithfield, VA 23430