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Holiday Safety… A few tips before you go!

The winter holiday season is normally filled with excitement and celebration. Unfortunately, the distractions and hectic pace of the holidays may make us vulnerable to criminal activity and unfortunate events. Here are some tips to keep you safe:

• Before leaving your office or workspace on campus, be sure to unplug any space heaters, temporary equipment, and holiday decorations. Practice good housekeeping by cleaning up any collected paper, trash, or combustible decorations. Be sure all doors and windows are secure and do not prop open any facility entrances as you come and go.
• Wash your hands often when preparing and serving food at your holiday celebrations, and be sure to maintain proper temperature when cooking and storing leftovers. Click here for more holiday food safety tips from the CDC.
• Shop with your safety and security in mind. When parking your vehicle, remember to roll up all windows, lock the doors, take the keys, and secure any valuables in the trunk or conceal them from others. Avoid dark areas, shortcuts, and cul-de-sacs. Stay near people, and shop with friends or family whenever possible. When returning to your vehicle, carry your keys in your hand and be ready to unlock the door and enter as quickly as you can. As you approach the vehicle, scan the area, glance underneath the car, and take a quick look inside before entering.
• While dining out or running errands, always be aware of your surroundings. Take time to look at the people and vehicles around you, noting anything suspicious. If you feel that someone is following you on foot, vary your pace, change directions, and go immediately to a well-lit area where there are other people. If you feel someone is following you in a vehicle, stay alert while loading or unloading items in the parking lot. If someone approaches and you feel threatened, get in your vehicle and lock the doors until they leave the area. If they do not leave, then drive away.
• Take care of your financial safety as well. Carry minimal cash, valuables, and jewelry while out and about. Credit and debit cards are safer choices than cash transactions, as you may report them stolen or lost if needed. Be cautious of email requests and phone calls wanting to verify confidential account or financial information.
• If you plan to leave your home for an extended period of time, be sure to lock all windows and doors. Have a neighbor, family member, or friend check on your house periodically and pick up your newspapers and mail. Leave your indoor and outdoor lights on an automatic timer, so it looks as if you are home.