Safeguard Your Shopping Experience

Light your way: It's important to remain aware of your surroundings while you do your holiday shopping. If you're at a mall or shopping center, park your car in an illuminated area, and don't allow yourself to become so preoccupied with your mental to-do list that you are unable to assess potential dangers.

Ask for help: If you feel at all uncomfortable walking to your vehicle alone, enlist the help of the business' security personnel.

Secure your stash: Remove holiday gifts from your car after a shopping trip, otherwise you could be an easy target for a holiday thief. If you must keep gifts in your car, secure them in the trunk or cover them with a blanket. And always lock your car doors.

Home Fire Prevention

Decorate with decorum: If you decorate the interior or exterior of your property, don't overload outlets. Also, when hanging outdoor lights, use lights designed specifically for outdoor use; keep the same caution in mind when using interior lights.

Conduct timely testing:'Tis the season to test the batteries in your smoke detectors and ensure all fire extinguishers are working properly.

Set the mood:Avoid using real candles in potentially dangerous situations such as around flammable objects, near children or in high traffic areas. "Candles" that use LED light instead of real flames replicate the ambiance of the real thing.

Keep it faux: While real greenery looks and smells like the holiday season, it can dry out - quickly becoming a fire hazard. Faux greenery looks great, is less messy and presents fewer risks than evergreen or pine. If only the real deal will do, keep a nearby humidifier filled and running throughout the holiday season.

Additional Home Safety

Time your light: With darkness consuming daylight, using a light timer could be a smart idea - especially if you work nights or keep otherwise unusual hours. Be sure to use one if your family is traveling over the holidays, too.

Trim tightly: Cut back home landscaping, such as trees, shrubs and flower beds, in the fall. Home invasions and thefts increase during the holiday season, and you don't want to invite trouble through overgrown landscaping.

Secure sliders: If you have a walk-out basement with accessible windows or a sliding glass door, consider adding extra security measures to keep your home and holiday gifts safe. Keep the shades drawn - especially at night - and consider using PVC pipe or a piece of wood to ensure sliding glass doors can't be opened.

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