Keep safety in mind as holidays approach

Whether you choose to hit the shops on Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, or sit in your pajamas and search for deals online through Cyber Monday, holiday shopping means opportunities to brighten the day of a loved one.

The holidays are always a great time to connect or reconnect with neighbors. If you haven’t already, take a plate of cookies to the family across the street and introduce yourself. Building community in your neighborhood is a great present, especially as it makes keeping an eye out for each other easier.

The holidays present opportunities for thieves, too.

If you see someone suspicious in your neighborhood, report it to the local law enforcement. It may be someone’s Uncle Bob home for the holidays, or it may be someone trying to find a moment to steal packages left on a door step.

During the holiday season it is more important than ever to make sure a Grinch doesn’t ruin your plans. Remember to follow safety tips now and year-round.

• Don’t keep valuables in sight in vehicles, and lock all doors to cars and to your home.

• As you prepare to put up those Christmas decorations, keep safety in mind there, too. Don’t overload sockets with too many strings of lights. It may feel like it’s not a big deal to piggy back all those lights — you’ve done it before, maybe, without anything bad happening, or it’s only for a few weeks — but losing everything to an electrical fire is not worth taking a chance. On a similar note, be sure you’ve had your chimney swept before you start those roaring, cozy fires, and keep your Christmas tree properly watered.

• Turn your Christmas lights off when you’re not home or going to bed to decrease the chances for fire, too.

• Don’t forget to think about your pets this year, and more than putting his or her favorite chew toy or catnip under the tree. Remember that a lot of decorations may pose some risks to animals. New decorations may look like new chew toys. A tree inside may be too great a temptation for kitty to resist climbing.

Many traditional holiday plants can cause problems — even severe poisoning and death — for pets.

• While it has remained rather mild temperature-wise, as the thermometer drops, it will be important to continue to look after neighbors and pets. Elderly neighbors may not use their heaters as often, or may need to be checked on. Pets should not be left out in the cold without shelter.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. We hope some of these tips will help make the whole season safer for all.

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