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Celebrate safely: Tips for a happy, safe holiday

By Geoffrey Merritt
Safety Officer, UTSA Police Department

(Dec. 12, 2006)--This holiday season, don't let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars and thieves a chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, but chiefly because it's an opportune time for crime.

Here are some tips on how to celebrate safely this holiday season.

AT HOME

  • Be sure to lock doors and windows before you leave your home.
  • Don't display holiday gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway
  • If you go out for the evening, turn on lights and a radio or television, so the house or apartment appears to be occupied.
  • Immediately after the holidays, mark new gifts with an identification number and record serial numbers. The UTSA Police Department can engrave your items for free.
  • Use only fire-resistant ornaments on a Christmas tree and make sure electric lights are in good working order.
  • Avoid leaving boxes from purchases (especially TVs and computers) on the curb for trash pick-up.

IF YOU'RE SHOPPING

  • Stay alert and be aware of what's going on around you.
  • Park in a well-lighted space, lock your car, and put shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.

HOLIDAY PARTY SAFETY

  • Have non-alcoholic beverages available for party guests.
  • Serve food before serving alcoholic beverages.
  • Obey the law. The legal drinking age in Texas is 21, and furnishing alcohol to a minor is an arrestable offense.
  • Watch what you drink and know your limits. A good rule is 0-1-3: 0 drinks if you're driving or underage, 1 drink per hour, no more than 3 drinks in an evening.

Last but not least, don't let holiday stress get the best of your holiday spirit. Make time to get together with family, friends and neighbors. And think about reaching out in the spirit of the season to help someone who is less fortunate or lonely.

Do your part to make the holidays a safe and happy time for everybody -- except criminals.

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Resources

National Crime Prevention Council
UCLA Center for Women and Men

University Communications
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