CONSUMER ALERT: Holiday safety tips

Staff Report

     BATON ROUGE— In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, consumers may become distracted and forget to keep safety first.  Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell offers advice on how to stay safe and avoid stress during the busiest time of year.  

Secure your vehicle. Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk. Be aware of your surroundings, when approaching or exiting your car.

Exercise caution while shopping. Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, park in a well-lit area.  Dress comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Keep your purse or wallet secure at all times. Avoid overloading yourself with packages. Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.  Ask for a security escort if you notice anything or anyone suspicious.

Handle decorations carefully. Christmas trees can be a fire hazard. Do not place your tree near a heat source, like a fireplace or heat vent. Natural trees should be watered daily. When natural trees dry out, they can be easily ignited. Remove trees from your home when they become dry. Decorative lights should be inspected each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive wear. Do not overload outlets or connect strings of lights into extension cords. Never leave holiday lights on when you leave the house or go to bed.  If you use candles, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they can't easily be knocked over. Never leave the house or go to bed with candles burning.

Protect your home. Remember to lock all doors and windows. Make sure the exterior of your home is well-lit. Don't leave gifts where they can be seen from outside the residence. Open doors only to people you know and never allow any unknown person inside your home.  If on vacation, have the post office hold your mail, or have a trusted neighbor pick up all mail, newspapers and deliveries daily.