Posted in Holiday Gift Ideas, Holiday Safety

How to #BeSafe this Holiday Season

Part 3 of a 3-part series

Firedog Holiday TravelTo date, our series has covered safety relative to choosing, displaying and decorating Christmas trees, working with wrapping paper, and guidelines for being safe at work and home. I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned a lot about how to #BeSafe during the holidays! This week, we will conclude our three-part series by focusing on travel, shopping and food safety. Our thanks to Universal Services of America, Food Safety.Gov, Web MD, TSA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, for contributing to our holiday safety series.

Holiday Travel Safety

  • Drive slowly when visibility is reduced. It’s better to arrive alive even if you get to your destination a bit late.
  • If you’re flying, prepare for crowds. Arrive at the airport in plenty of time, so you won’t be bothered by long lines. I wonder if Snoopy has to deal with this when he’s battling the Red Baron.
  • If you notice an item that has been left unattended, alert airport security. Don’t ever agree to watch luggage for someone you don’t know.
  • For instant access to TSA information anywhere, anytime, use the MyTSA app.

Firedog Holiday Shopping SafetyHoliday Shopping Safety

  • If you choose to shop online, do so only with well-known businesses. Research websites for legitimacy and track record. Since I don’t have opposable thumbs, online shopping is difficult for me. I guess that’s a good thing.
  • Conduct transactions on a secure server only. Look for the padlock device on the browser’s status bar. URLs should change from http to shttp or https when you begin checking out online. To confirm the site you are using is secure, make sure the page is encrypted before you enter payment information.
  • At the mall, park close to your destination, in a well-lit area. Take note of where you park, so you won’t get lost.
  • Don’t carry multiple bags as you walk around the mall. This could attract thieves who could follow you back to your car. If your packages become cumbersome, it’s time to head to the car to drop them off. When you get to your vehicle, lock packages in the trunk, out of sight.
  • As you shop, carry your purse close to your body and/or stow your wallet inside a zippered pocket. I don’t carry a purse. But my wife does. I guess I should pass this info onto her.
  • Report suspicious activity and/or unattended packages to store/mall security or law enforcement.
  • Pay by credit card, rather than check/debit card, to reduce the risk of having fraudulent purchases made against your bank account. Although most such funds are refundable, depending on your financial institution, your money could be tied up far longer than might be convenient…especially during the holidays.
  • To make sure all debit and credit card charges are legitimate, keep receipts and compare them to your monthly bank and/or credit card statement.
  • Avoid being overcharged. Review your receipt regardless of your method of payment.
  • Keep car keys handy.
  • Lock your doors as soon as you get inside the vehicle. 

Firedog Holiday Safety FoodHoliday Food Safety

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food.
  • Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. As much as I would like to advise having the dog lick your plates clean, washing them in soapy water would admittedly be far more hygienic.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water.
  • Use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking in order to avoid spreading bacteria to areas around the sink and countertops.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  • Don’t eat uncooked cookie dough. It may contain raw eggs, which can harbor salmonella.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave—never at room temperature.
  • As a general rule of thumb, leftovers should be used within three to four days, unless frozen. After four days, you could always give leftover meat to the family pet. Just a suggestion. J
  • For fire safety, keep flammable materials far from open flames. Fire safety is important. So try to remain focused even in the midst of holiday stress.

We hope that this blog series has helped inform you about ways to #BESAFE this holiday season and always, by taking necessary steps to improve your health and safety. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted in BE SAFE, Health & Welfare

This Holiday Season, BE SAFE Shopping

Fiery black friday sale design.By the dozens, to maximize holiday profits, retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day–a full day earlier than usual–to lure shoppers who are searching for bargains. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to leave a perfectly good turkey dinner to go shopping…unless they are shopping for bacon. Whether you agree with this tactic or not, at some point this season, you will likely venture out to pick up a few things, like bacon. So we would like to give you some tips to keep you safe.

Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while hunting for bargains:

Walking to and from Your Car or Public Transportation

  • Park in a well-lit area.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your windows shut. (But don’t keep your dog inside your car when you go into the mall.)
  • Before exiting your car, stash cell phones, tablets and other valuables, like bacon, out of sight.
  • Remember where you parked your car. Some shopping areas are spread out over large areas. If you are unable to locate your car, you can face undue confusion and stress which will make you an easy target for opportunistic criminals.
  • Once you purchase items, lock them securely in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
  • Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Keep your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle.
  • Before getting into the car, check the back seat and around the car.

Shopping Online

  • Update security software. Your desktop, laptop and/or tablet computer should have virus protection, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a dependable firewall.
  • Guard personal information. Never respond to requests to verify your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact.
  • If a bargain seems too good to be true, it probably is! For example…if someone is selling pork chops for pennies, resist the urge to buy it. Shop where you feel secure.
  • Use only secure websites for purchases. Before entering credit card information, check the URL (address bar) of the website where you are shopping. Unless you see a padlock at or “https” (instead of http) in the URL, shop somewhere else that is secure.
  • Shop only with companies you know and trust. I like Petco.
  • Print and save confirmation information from all of your online purchases.
  • Make sure Smartphone apps are downloaded from a trusted source, such as the Android Market, Apple App Store or the Amazon App Store.
  • Do online shopping from the comfort of your own home or doghouse. A secure network connection is ideal. Public Wi-Fi can be hacked by someone with the right tools, exposing your passwords, billing information and other sensitive data. 

Shopping in Stores

  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible.
  • If possible, don’t carry a purse or wallet. Keep cash in your front pocket.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
  • If your credit card is lost or stolen, notify the credit card issuer immediately.
  • At all times, stay alert to your surroundings.
  • Don’t buy more packages than you can carry. Taking loads of sacks and wrapped gifts to your car is an invitation for thieves to strike. Instead, plan ahead. Take a friend with you or ask someone to help you carry your packages to the car.
  • Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook.  Enterprising thieves could stand over your shoulder to steal your account information.
  •  If you see an unattended package or bag, immediately inform a security guard or store employee.
  • Dress casually and comfortably. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
  • 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.

Shopping with Kids

  • If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you become separated.
  • If your children are old enough to shop without your supervision, select a central meeting place.
  • Teach them to know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
  • Don’t dress your kids in clothes with labels that have their name. Such clothing invites predators to convince kids they aren’t strangers.
  • If you see anything suspicious or if something just doesn’t feel right, leave immediately and contact security or the police.

For more useful shopping tips and personal safety information, check out resources from the National Crime Prevention Council, LAPDOnline, Stay Safe Online, Webroot, FEMA, DHS and our previous posts. My pal, McGruff the Crime Dog, has some helpful hints for you. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.