Holiday safety tips from Brown County Sheriff
I’ve had many requests to provide another holiday safety message to the public, with issues concerning safety during the holiday season. Fact; crime increases more than 42 percent during the holiday season, whether it be scams, break-ins, thefts or something else. I would like everyone to take a few minutes and review this information. Please, let your local law enforcement know at once if you have questions or concerns.
Unfortunately with the holiday season, we at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) see a definite increase in people who are trying to scam others. In order to make this season more enjoyable and productive, I would like to pass on a few tips to make the public a little more prepared and keep from becoming a victim.
It is very important never to give out personal information over the phone or computer. Many scammers are smooth and convincing. There are so many different scams these days, it’s virtually impossible to keep track of them all. Scams can range from individuals claiming to be relatives of county residents who are in desperate need of money, to residents being notified they have won huge amounts of money and they need to share their bank account information or social security number to transfer the funds.
I am asking folks to remember this key point: if something sounds too good to be true — it is most likely a scam! No one is going to randomly give away cash or vehicles.
Around the holidays, everyone would like a little extra money. These scammers know this and take advantage of financial situations. They make their living by convincing a very small percentage of people to send them money or provide personal information, and the longer they can keep you on the phone the easier it is for them to gather your personal information. As soon as you realize it is a scam call — hang up!
Remember, never give out personal information over the phone or on the internet. If you are unsure about an issue that may be a scam, contact your local law enforcement at once. Scammers who call repeatedly can sometimes be deterred by simply telling them your local law enforcement will be involved in the issue, then hang up. Usually, scammers will move on to an easier target.
Holiday Driving Tips
If you plan on traveling during the holidays or at any time during the winter months, check your entire vehicle routinely to make sure everything is in proper working order. The most neglected parts of a vehicle are the windshield wipers. It’s important to ensure you have a clear field of vision while driving.
During the winter months, it’s very important to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times, and to create a vehicle emergency kit. When making a kit, consider including a battery-powered radio, a blanket, jumper cables, a small fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food items, maps, a tire repair kit, road flares or reflectors, matches, candles, kitty litter, etc.
Before traveling, listen to weather forecasts and road conditions to determine the safest way to travel. Take alternate routes when necessary, and stay on well traveled roads. It is imperative that you let friends or relatives know approximately how long your drive will be and the route you are taking. Become familiar with your route and know where the turn-offs and exits are.
In this day and age, we rely a lot on the modern technology of cell phones. The downside to this is that many areas do not have service, or we forget to bring along a charger. If this happens, we have to rely to what we have on hand, so it’s always best to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Always buckle up! By simply using your seat belt, you are reducing the chance of fatal injuries by more that 45 percent should you be involved in a crash. Fastening your seat belt is one of the easiest ways to increase road safety. Seat belt usage is a state law and receiving a citation for not wearing your seat belt is no fun, especially during the holidays.
We know everyone likes to enjoy the holiday festivities, but if you are consuming alcohol, do not drive. During the holidays, DUIs and alcohol-related accidents skyrocket. By using a designated driver, this decreases accidents and promotes traffic safety.
We also are asking motorists to drive defensively. With the added holiday traffic, people are in more of a hurry to get places and are more likely to make mistakes while driving. Always be on the lookout for other drivers. Allow plenty of time to get to your location, and take breaks often to stay refreshed and alert.
BCSO would like to remind residents with elderly neighbors, friends and relatives, or even those with disabilities, to periodically check on them to ensure they have heat, are eating and drinking like they should and are not in need of medical attention. There are some folks who make it a point to regularly call or visit and deliver groceries and/or medications to those who require assistance. This is one of the benefits of living in a close knit community.
Editor’s Note: The second part of this column will be published in next week’s Herald.