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The holiday season is a time of gift giving to all of your loved ones. With every gift brings countless hours spent shopping at the mall and online. It is important to know how to protect yourself and your family from criminals online and at the mall. With everything going on, its easy to not pay attention to small things that don’t seem right. Here are some ways you can protect yourself and your family wherever you shop during the holidays. Mall

The first tip is to take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water before going to the mall to stay hydrated. It is important to stay hydrated so you don’t pass out from dehydration. The mall and stores can be crowded around the holidays. Dress in layers so you can take layers off when you get hot or cold. While shopping, try to go with someone else. Power in numbers! You will have an extra set of eyes to see what is going on around you. When going to the mall or any store, make sure to give yourself extra time to get to your destination. You are less likely to be rushed and not paying attention. When parking your car, keep theses safely tips in mind.

Keep a first-aid kit in the trunk of your car. It is important if you get stranded somewhere or someone gets hurt to have all the right equipment. When you park your car, make sure to park in a well-lit area. Parking in a dark parking lot with no lights makes it easier for someone to sneak up on you. Don’t park next to a big truck or van. Big vans can block your view when getting out of your parking space. Make sure to lock your car doors and close all windows so no one is able to steal anything from your car. Always keep your packages or anything valuable in your trunk. If visible, this will tempt criminals to help themselves to anything in your car. When leaving the mall, always have your keys already in your hand and don’t be on your cell phone. You won’t be distracted fumbling through your purse not paying attention to who is around you. Keep all your valuables close to you while your shopping. rco_blog_img_Santa

When shopping, always keep your a purse or wallet close to you at all times. Keep your wallet in your front pocket. It is easy for criminals to grab your wallet if your wallet is located in your back pocket. Be audacious of strangers approaching you. They do this to distract you and steal your wallet or purse. Know your surroundings and see who is around you. Many thieves are well dressed or could be that sweet old lady. The mall can be crowded and hot with all the people. If you see anything suspicious, call the police or talk to local police on duty. Know where the closest exits and entrances are located . This is important if there is a fire or any other kind of emergency.  Make sure to keep yourself safe with these helpful tips, but also teach your family members and friends ways to stay safe during the holidays.

Teach your children even from a young age to stay safe when going to the mall or any public place. Make sure they stay close to you at all times. Children must ask permission to go anywhere with you or check in with you. Teach your children that they should go to a safe public place like a store and talk to a store clerk or police officer and ask for help if they get lost. Make sure they know their home address and phone number so the police know who to contact if they get lost. Talk to them about the importance of not talking to strangers even if they look nice. With the increased amount of online shopping this holiday season, here are some ways to stay safe. Internet

There are alot of sites online with sales and deals, but some of them can be fake. Trust you instincts. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Do not feel pressured to buy anything. Make sure to comparison shop to get an idea of how much the item really costs. Only go on trusted websites. Do not pay for anything that is not on a secured website. Only  use sites with SSL ( secure socket layer). It’s a secure network that will have the address HTTPS:// instead of just HTTP://. It will have a lock on the status bar or bottom of web browser to show its a secured website. Always read the fine print of everything your buying.

Read the return policy before buying anything. Its better to know to know before you spend your money and don’t get your money back.  Do not give away any personal information. They never need to know your social security number or your birthday. Never email someone your credit card number or any other personal information. The final tip is to have fun during the holidays and enjoy this magical time with your family!

Sources

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2373130,00.asp

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-01/cyber-monday-shopping-rises-9-as-online-sales-slow.html

http://www.bpdny.org/Home/Prevention/ShoppingSafetyTips

http://www.safeshopping.org/tips.shtml

http://www.lapdonline.org/crime_prevention/content_basic_view/1376

http://www.ncpc.org/topics/violent-crime-and-personal-safety/strangers

A recipe for Thanksgiving cooking safety

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You’ve been thinking about turkey for weeks. But did you know that Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires and home fire injuries involving cooking equipment?

“People think that it can’t happen to them,” says Nina Johnson, Disaster Program Specialist at the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley. “But unfortunately it can.”

Here’s Nina’s recipe for Thanksgiving cooking safety:

Ingredients:

  • Smoke alarms
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Close-fitting clothing

Directions:

  1. Test your smoke alarms: Smoke alarms generally fail because the batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead. Press the test button on each smoke alarm in your home. Functioning alarms should produce a loud siren. Smoke alarms that produce weak or nonexistent sirens need new batteries.
  2. Check your fire extinguisher: The National Fire Protection Agency recommends inspecting portable fire extinguishers monthly and getting professional maintenance once a year. Refer to the label or user manual of your extinguisher for the manufacturer’s maintenance suggestions.
  3. Clean your oven and cooktop: Dirty cooking surfaces can lead to a fire. Be sure to open windows and turn on the exhaust fan when using an oven’s self-cleaning feature. And don’t forget to remove any ash once the oven is cool. If you are cleaning your oven by hand, make sure to wipe down the oven and cooktop after using cleaning supplies.
  4. Wear close-fitting clothing: Keep your scarves, ties, and other loose-fitted clothing in the bedroom until you have finished cooking. Nina recommends wearing a close-fitted short-sleeve shirt in the kitchen.
  5. Stay in the house while the oven is on: It takes time to cook a juicy bird. Make sure that there is at least one adult in the house while the oven is on.
  6. Stay in the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop: Unattended cooking accounted for 48% of injuries in a study by the National Fire Protection Agency. Be sure to stay in the kitchen when cooking on a range or cooktop.
  7. Keep children away from the oven: Make sure to keep kids away from the oven and hot cooking surfaces. Serve appetizers or snacks in another room to keep children out of the kitchen.
  8. Stay calm if a fire starts: Don’t try to throw a burning pan in the sink or run through the house to throw it outside. Cover the pan with a metal lid. If the fire continues, get everyone out of the house and call 911.

Find more cooking tips for Thanksgiving Chefs

photoMy 12 year old son is currently obsessed with Mythbusters, the show on the Discovery Channel where two crazy special effects guys blow stuff up in the name of scientific analysis. The other day, we were watching a show from the second or maybe third season about combustible Christmas trees.  We learned that when a spark from an overloaded wall socket hits a dry tree Christmas tree, the ensuing blaze is incredibly cool to watch – on television.  As a homeowner about to set up our own tree for the season, I was appalled. According to my son, I shouted something at the TV that wasn’t very parentally responsible. I maintain I said “Holy Cow!”  Never mind, I’m here to tell you that a Christmas tree fire is a potential four alarm affair. No kidding.

Luckily, the Red Cross has some great advice about setting up Christmas trees while taking fire safety into account. Please consider the following suggestions:

  • Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees.
  • Give a live Christmas tree plenty of water to keep it moist and fresh.
  • Keep trees at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces or radiators.
  • Never put a candle on a Christmas tree.
  • Make sure lights are in good condition.
  • Safely dispose of trees as they become dry and needles begin to drop.
  • Don’t let old dried out trees hang around! Dispose of trees through recycling centers or community pick-up services.
  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets by not linking more than three light strands.
  • Use decorations that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to embrace the “metallic” Christmas tree, but I’m a firm believer in keeping the tree away from heat, not overloading the lights and turning it off for bedtimes and departures. The idea of Christmas lights getting hotter and hotter on my tree as I’m sleeping holds no appeal whatsoever.

Don’t believe us? Here’s a recent tweet from the Philadelphia fire department with some of the same ideas attached.

Of course, it’s not only the tree. We have a tendency to burn more things this time of year!

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We open up our fireplaces and wood stoves. We get out our candles and oil lamps. It is our natural and human instinct to bring light to these darkest days near the winter solstice. And there is no more beautiful light than firelight. The Red Cross has a whole list of safety tips regarding these activities. Please follow this link to learn more.

We give you joy of the season. Please be so, so, so careful with your lights and flames.

— Posted by Communications Volunteer Sarah Peterson