Holiday safety

At home

  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even for a few minutes.
  • Don't display gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway. Store gifts before you go away on a holiday trip.
  • If you go out in the evening, turn on lights and a radio or television so the house looks and sounds occupied.
  • If you go away for a few days, get an automatic timer for your lights. Have a trusted neighbor watch your house, shovel snow, pick up the mail and newspapers, and park his or her car in your driveway from time to time.
  • Be wary of strangers that may come to the door asking for charitable donations. They may be taking advantage of people's generosity during the holidays. Instead, help charitable organizations you know.
  • Teach your children not to play with tree lights or electric connections.
  • Immediately after the holidays, mark down the serial numbers of any expensive items (such as electronics) and put this information in a safe place.
  • Use only fire resistant ornaments on your tree and make sure lights are in good working order.
  • Don't leave the holiday lights on overnight or when you are away.
  • Test your smoke detectors.


  • Even when you're rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings. If you see people loitering in parking garages, parking lots, and outside of stores, go the other way.
  • Coordinate shopping trips with a friend if you plan to be out late. Never park in an unlit lot, no matter how convenient it is.
  • Lock your car and close the windows, even if you're gone only a few minutes. Lock packages in the trunk.
  • Park near street lights if possible and have your keys in hand when you return to the car. Check the interior of your car before getting inside.
  • To discourage purse snatchers, don't overburden yourself with packages.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible. Be sure to put the receipt in your purse or wallet. Never leave it in the bag.
  • Don't carry excess credit cards. Take only those cards for the stores where you intend to shop.
  • Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a back pants pocket.
  • Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if they become separated in a store or shopping mall.

At work

  • Lock any gifts you've bought on your lunch hour in a safe place. Remind co-workers to do the same.
  • Be especially careful to keep your purse or wallet with you at all times or locked in a drawer or closet.

Thieves may try to take advantage of the holiday mood and employees inattention to steal items from businesses. If you see unauthorized people in places they shouldn't be, call your security department immediately.

Your neighborhood

  • Help keep the holidays happy for everyone by being extra alert. If a neighbor's going away, offer to take in the mail and papers.
  • Have a Neighborhood Watch party that includes everyone. Don't forget the elderly and other people who might be especially lonely during the holidays.
  • Get teens in your neighborhood together to help elderly residents with shopping, shoveling walks and decorating their homes.