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    Tips for Making Safety a Priority This Holiday Season

    It’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and make security a priority. But, during the holiday season, as many people travel more, spend more time in the kitchen, and do a great deal more shopping, it’s important to cultivate a heightened sense of safety. Consider the following safety tips as the holidays draw near.

    Safe Driving Tips

    Experts at AAA are predicting a very busy holiday travel season for 2021. They anticipate over 53.4 million people will travel for the holidays, up 13% from 2020. Of these, 48.3 million are expected to visit family and friends or go on vacation by car.

    Here are some tips for staying safe on the road:

    • For road trips, get a good night’s sleep before leaving to avoid driving drowsy
    • Avoid distracted driving—make sure to put your cell phone away
    • Never drive impaired; always designate a sober driver after holiday parties and outings
    • Plan ahead for heavy traffic, so you can avoid rushing; leave early when possible
    • Always keep emergency essentials in your vehicle, including a properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench, tripod jack, jumper cables, and a tool kit and/or multipurpose utility tool

    Related Reading: Get More Miles from Your Vehicle with These Regular Maintenance Tips

    Safe Holiday Décor Tips

    Between 2015-2019, fire departments responded to over 800 home fires that started with Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of two deaths, 12 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage annually.

    Here are some tips to help ensure your holiday décor is as safe as it is festive:

    • Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors
    • Keep poisonous plants, such as mistletoe and holly berries, away from children and animals
    • If using a live Christmas tree, make sure to dispose of it when it is dry, as dry trees are a fire hazard
    • Make sure all decorations are flame/fire resistant or fire retardant
    • Keep Christmas trees at least three feet away from fireplaces, candles, and other heat sources, and make sure not to block any exits with décor

    Safe Online Shopping Tips

    In 2020, a record 20 billion parcels were shipped in the U.S. and a survey found 43% of Americans had a package stolen during this time.

    To help ensure the security of both your holiday purchases and your personal data used for online payments, observe the following tips:

    • Only use trusted websites for online shopping; check for positive website reviews from other shoppers
    • Look for websites that begin with https:// which indicates extra precautions are being taken to secure your information
    • Only fill in required fields on websites, and be suspicious of websites that seem to ask for unnecessary information
    • Use secure forms of payment, such as a credit card, so you can attempt to recoup your money if a product is not delivered
    • Beware of suspicious text and email links that seem to advertise online sales, as cybercriminals often use fake links to steal your information or infect your devices
    • Read the fine print on all return policies

    COVID-19 Safety Tips

    Although case numbers have vastly improved over this time last year, COVID-19 still poses safety concerns. As we gather for the holidays, keep the following tips in mind:

    • Remember, the best protection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated against the virus and to wear a mask (especially while indoors and in areas of high transmission)
    • For gatherings, outdoors is safer than indoors
    • If you don’t feel well or have any cold-like or gastrointestinal symptoms, do not host or attend gatherings, and make sure to get tested for COVID-19
    • While on public transportation, including plane travel, even fully vaccinated people are required to wear masks (well-fitted over your nose and mouth)
    • Avoid spaces that are crowded or poorly ventilated

    We hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season this year. Remember, you can help keep the holidays merry and bright by making safety a top priority!

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    Henry Nava

    As Director of Security, Enrique (Henry) Nava is responsible for the physical security of all SWBC locations and emergency response plans. Prior to joining SWBC, Enrique worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). During his more than 25 years at the FBI, he focused on violent crime, counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, intellectual property crimes, and cyber and technical investigative programs. Before joining the FBI, Enrique served as a Special Agent in the United States Secret Service (USSS) and a Trooper for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Henry graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Minor in Psychology

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