You'd better watch out this festive season: keeping your family safe
We know everyone is pretty much already in holiday mode, but crime tends to go up during the festive season. Don't forget to lock your doors, set your alarms and take these safety precautions this December.
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While the festive season is everyone’s favourite time of year, what with the kids on school holiday and the coastal towns flooded with holidaymakers, it is also the busiest time of year.

So more often than not the beaches are overcrowded and the malls are packed, which can be rather dangerous for our overly energetic little ones and even our teens begging to do just about anything but sit at home.

And let’s not forget that crime rates tend to go up over the holiday period. Warwick Scott-Rodger, executive head of Dialdirect Insurance, explains, “Many people often have a distorted perception of their safety while on holiday, making them less vigilant. Remember to stay aware and alert, as criminals don’t take holidays."

So we’d rather you take these very necessary safety precautions. Because it’s literally better to be safe than sorry.

At home

  • Be sure that all access points are fitted with security gates, burglar bars and even electric fencing where possible, to keep all the bad guys off and out of your way.
  • Mix up your daily routine so that no-one can track your whereabouts and know when you will and won’t be home.
  • When you leave home, ensure there are no suspicious vehicles driving around your area or suspicious-looking people lurking outside your house. Rather report them; perhaps let your security company, trustworthy neighbours or your local neighbourhood watch group know to keep an eye on the house.
  • Make sure you don’t leave any empty Christmas gift boxes on the street or any sign that indicates there’s something worth stealing inside.
  • Be sure to lock up and store all your valuables in a safe.
  • While some may feel it’s a good thing to leave the lights on to let others know you’re home, lights that are always on, just as mailboxes that are always full, let burglars know that you aren’t in fact home. So if you’re going away this holiday it might be good to ask a friend or family member to switch the lights on, empty the mailbox and drive past the house to check that everything’s okay. That way you’ll also have peace of mind.

While you settle into your house on the beach, don't forget to take care of your home. Charnel Hattingh, national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT shares the following tips for before you travel:

  • Ensure that your alarm is in working order. December is a busy period for security companies, so homeowners should test their alarms at least three weeks before going on holiday. Should the system require servicing, this should be arranged as early as possible.
  • Ensure there are no gaps in your fence or unintentional points of access to your home that may need additional security.
  • Remember: connecting outdoor lights to timers and motion sensors act as an additional deterrent.
  • Two weeks before you leave for your holiday, advise your security company of your holiday plans. Should an incident happen while you are away, it is essential that they have the following updated information: (1) all key holder information and (2) details of domestic workers, gardeners or house sitters who may be staying on the property while you are away.
  • Inform your neighbours and neighbourhood watch of your holiday plans so that they can keep an eye on your property while you are away.
  • Stop all newspaper and other deliveries if applicable and arrange that someone collects your post while you are away. A bulging post box is a clear indication that you are not home.
  • If you have hired a house sitter, teach them how to use your alarm system correctly.
  • Make sure that all bushes or trees close to your doors and garage are trimmed, to avoid the possibility of intruders hiding behind them.
  • Be discreet when packing your car. Do so behind closed doors. If possible, in your garage.
  • Do a quick once-over before you leave on holiday. Double check that you have locked and secured all windows and doors. Sliding doors can be secured simply by placing a piece of timber cut to size in the sliding rail.
  • Don’t leave ladders, spades or tools outside as these can be excellent break-in tools.
  • Ensure that all valuables and remote controls for automatic gates and garage doors are not left lying around.

While on holiday

  • While on holiday, we often can’t help but splurge a little. And that’s okay. But remember to avoid ATMs, as well as quiet areas and deserted locations.
  • Keep your possessions and belongings safe, just as you would at any other time of the year, but perhaps even more so during the festive season.
  • Keep your kids even closer! It’s our biggest fear to have our kids taken away from us, but kidnapping and human trafficking, particularly while on holiday, is more prevalent than we think. We all want to have a good time during the holidays and we don’t anticipate that anything bad will ever happen, but it might be a good idea to save important numbers such as the local police – just in case.
  • Don’t forget to chat to the locals. They’ll be able to tell you which places to see and sites to visit (and which to avoid). And who knows, they may be even more useful than Google.

While at the mall

  • We know that it’s easy to sort of lose your bearings in a busy mall, but it's important stay alert at all times. Be aware of what’s going on around so that you can anticipate should anything go wrong.
  • From pick-pocketing to mall robberies, theft happens more often than you think in malls. So make sure you avoid high-target stores at opening and closing times and make sure you have a meeting spot for your family and friends in the event of a mall robbery.
  • Don't be a hero! While you might think it’s a good idea to confront a robber, it’s really, really not. Remember that they’re armed and can hurt you and your loved ones. So instead, try and remain calm, back away from any suspicious activity, report it and leave, helping as many people as you can to exit the mall.
  • If you do find yourself in an altercation with a burglar, cooperate with them, avoid eye contact and respond promptly without being aggressive. If they ask for any of your personal items, give it to them. Your life is worth more than any material possession they could ask of you.

There are, of course, numerous other safety precautions we should be taking, not just because it’s the festive season, but because it’s also the summer school holidays. So we’ve listed a few sun safety, water safety and car safety tips for you below.

Because we’d rather have you be safe than sorry. We wish you a very peaceful holiday!

Sun safety tips

Water safety tips

Car safety tips

Which other safety precautions do you ensure you take during the festive season and over the holiday period? Tell us by commenting below.

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