It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And the busiest, also. With so much going on it's easy to get distracted, leaving you vulnerable to crime.
“This time of year, criminals are just waiting for you to let your guard down, so you have to be extra careful,” said Ed Watkins, chief of Carilion Police and Security Services.
Protect Your Valuables
As you finish up your holiday shopping, follow these tips from Chief Watkins to keep your valuables safe:
- Avoid overloading yourself with packages, especially if you’re also carrying a child.
- Be aware of strangers who approach you or your child for any reason—thieves may try several ways to distract you to take your money or belongings.
- Don’t leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car, either when you are in the vehicle or when you leave it. Lock valuables in your trunk.
- Remember, it can be just as easy for your identity to be stolen online as it can be for your wallet to be stolen in a store. Make sure you are always aware of what could be a scam—don’t respond to emails or texts that are unfamiliar or unsolicited, and remember that banks and credit card companies will never contact you to ask for a PIN, password or account number.
Protect Your Children
If you have your kids in tow when when you are out and about, it's important to also teach them how to stay safe and alert.
Here are some of Chief Watkins' top tips to keep your kids out of harm's way:
- Do not allow children to go to the car or restroom alone. They should be with you at all times.
- Teach children to stay close to you when shopping, and be sure they know to go to a store clerk, police or security officer to ask for help if they are separated from you.
- Make sure your children know their full name, address and telephone number to give police if needed; get an ID card for your child that you can give to police.
Get Your Car Seats Checked
Whenever you have your children in your vehicle, you want to be sure that their car seats are installed properly. This is important not only for highway travel but for running errands around town, where most accidents occur.
Approximately 80% of children are not properly secured in car seats. Carilion's SafeKids initiatives include regular car seat check events by certified certified technicians in Roanoke and Christiansburg. Find an upcoming event near you.
Be Mindful of Winter Germs
Holiday shopping crowds coincide with winter's increase in illnesses—like colds, stomach viruses, the flu and COVID-19. Follow these steps (and help your kids follow them, too) to avoid bringing anything other than gifts home with you from the stores:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth in public places
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching high-contact surfaces (like ATMs, credit card readers, gas pumps or public restroom surfaces)
- Follow any local guidelines on wearing masks
- Get your COVID-19 and flu shots
- If you're not feeling well, please stay home and shop online!