Fall and winter welcome cold weather, holidays, parties, and guests! As you enter the holiday seasons, there are many areas of vulnerability that you need to consider. Here are safety tips to help you develop your comprehensive safety plan.
Before you have family and friends to your home, ensure that all of your firearms are properly secured. If you need resources, you can request cable-style gun locks and safety instructions from Project ChildSafe and they will send them to you free of charge.
Clear your walkways, staircase, and driveway of obstacles which could lead to guests injuring themselves on your property.
If, after your holiday meal or party, guests are too impaired to drive, have them eat and drink water or coffee to sober up before they leave. Another option is to let a trusted, sober friend or paid driver get them home. If you have an extra bed or couch, give them a safe place to sleep for the night.
Whether it is a ballet, citywide lighting display, or nativity reenactment, there are many great reasons for your family to participate in holiday outings. Crowds can be targeted by criminals and terrorists, so keep your guard up. Know the area and routes to take in an emergency. Don’t travel alone, and keep items such as mobile phones, purses, and electronics out of sight. Keep your head on a swivel.
When you enter your car, lock the doors right away, and then start your car. If you feel that you are being followed, call 911. Never pull over for a non-police vehicle. Be aware of your exact location so you can provide it to the 911 dispatcher.
Try to shop during daylight hours or park in well-lit areas. Do not leave anything of value visible through your car windows. Put these items in the glove compartment or the trunk or leave them at home. Take, Hide, and Lock. When shopping, do not make more than one trip to your car with purchases. Criminals can be observing you and could break into your car knowing to take your purchases.
If you shop online, make sure websites are secure and trustworthy. If packages are delivered and set in plain view, they are easy targets. Have neighbors watch for packages or check with your shipping company for alternative drop-off options.
Some people have been victimized by selling or purchasing an item on Craigslist and other online apps. Arrange to do these transactions in public places (e.g., Police Department) where you can immediately get assistance if there is a problem.
If you are giving or receiving a firearm as a gift, include training classes, too. Ensure that everyone who handles the firearm consistently follows the Rules of Gun Safety. If you don’t know how to use the gυn, don’t fiddle with it thinking you’ll figure it out. Ask your AG & AG Chapter Facilitator or another firearms instructor if there are upcoming classes that you can take. Having the right instruction will not only ensure the safety of yourself and those around you, but will give you greater success and enjoyment with the new gift.
Don’t invite food poisoning or fire to your holiday dinner. Federal guidelines state that your turkey is safe to eat when the innermost part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
Read labels carefully. See USDA recommended guidelines on turkey thawing and preparation.
Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking so you can keep an eye on the food. Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Ensure electric cords, knives, and stove-tops are out of reach of children.
Install deadbolt locks on your doors, which provides better security than chain locks. Instruct your children to not open the door if a stranger comes to your home soliciting.
Illuminate the interior and exterior of your home. Consider installing a residential alarm with camera systems if possible. Instead of displaying your holiday decor in a main window, try to obscure your holiday gifts from view from potential criminals.
Be cautious about putting the boxes that contained your recent purchases or gifts out on the curb for bulk trash pickup because the boxes will let thieves know what is in your house. Shred any paperwork with personal information, e.g., bank statements, credit card statements, medical records, etc., prior to discarding.
Know the laws for Use of Force and Related Weapon Laws of all the states you will visit. Websites like handgunlaw.us are extremely valuable or find an app that you trust and download it to your phone.
Know the airports, roadways, and rail stations you will be traveling through. If there are delays or closures, you may spend more time there than planned figuring out Plan B. Knowledge of what options are offered could save you time.
It’s a good time to review your family emergency plan, your universal action plan for your family that includes action words, safe words, and basic escape strategies for a variety of emergency scenarios.
Ask neighbors to keep an eye on your home if you’re away. Have them check for mail, newspapers and flyers. Consider placing a “hold” on mail and newspapers. Do not pre-announce your trip on Facebook or other social media. Delay posting pictures of your trip until you are actually home.