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Boreal Community Media

Cook County Connections: Holiday Safety

Dec 20, 2019 08:47AM ● By Editor

By Sheriff Pat Eliasen from Cook County Law Enforcement - December 20, 2019

As the holidays approach, the chances of mishaps and unfortunate incidents can increase: individuals are often distracted as they juggle holiday travel, shopping, get-togethers and parties. Cook County wants everyone to have a wonderful holiday season and, to that end, offers the following safety tips.

Safety Tips for Traveling

·       Get your vehicle road-ready. Check your fluid levels, battery and tire pressure/condition, and fill up your gas tank before starting your trip.

·       Buckle up.  Wearing a seatbelt is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay safe on the road. It’s okay to remind everyone else in the vehicle to buckle their seatbelts as well.

·       Prepare for emergencies.  Be prepared for events such as a car accident, breakdown, flat tire or medical issue by keeping a stash of emergency supplies in your vehicle. Supplies should include a flashlight, blanket, extra gloves and hats, a first-aid kit, basic hand tools, a phone charger, snacks, and bottled water. It is also a good idea to keep a small or collapsible shovel and a small bucket of sand or cat litter in the trunk of your vehicle in case you find yourself stuck in deep snow.

·       Don’t drink and drive. If you are going to be driving this holiday season, be sure to avoid the spiked eggnog. Never risk the safety of family, friends or others on the road by drinking and driving.

·       Drive defensively. Be aware of what drivers around you are doing and keep an eye out for drivers who may be operating their vehicle recklessly due to distraction or the influence of alcohol. Give yourself plenty of space between other cars on the road and avoid sudden stops.

Safety Tips for Shopping

·       Be vigilant. Always be alert to your surroundings and have your keys in your hand as you approach your vehicle.

·       Park smart. Help avoid vehicle break-ins by leaving nothing visible in your car. In addition, consider moving your vehicle to a different location each time you load packages in the trunk. Finally, try to use parking lots where there are parking attendants.

·       Carry as little as possible. Keep your wallet in a hard-to-reach place and carry only the cash and credit cards that you will need to complete your shopping.

·       Buddy up. Whenever possible, shop with a companion, especially after dark.

·       Speak up. If you see something, say something. If you witness criminal activity or see something or someone suspicious, flag down a police officer, call 911 or contact security.

·       Protect your information. Shield your PIN when using ATMs or other electronic devices in public.

Safety Tips for Social Outings

·       Drink responsibly. This may seem obvious, but many people forget their limits during the holidays, especially on New Year’s Eve. So, if you plan to drink, take it slow and understand your limits.

·       Plan transportation ahead. Make sure you have safe means for you and your group to get home. Whether this is through a designated driver, public transport, carpool or a service like Uber, make sure everyone understands the plan beforehand. Please never drink and drive.

·       Drive defensively. Even if you’re not drinking, you’re still at risk: there are people out this time of year who, unfortunately, do not obey the law or take the safety of others into consideration. Therefore, be wary of other drivers who may be under the influence.

·       Be proactive. Whether you’re driving or walking, give yourself plenty of space and pay attention to your surroundings. Police are out in full force on New Year’s Eve so, if you notice a vehicle moving recklessly, notify your local police. You could very well save a life.

·       Keep an eye on your beverages. Do not accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink at the bar unattended. Predators use very effective strategies to incapacitate unwary people.

Hopefully some or all of these tips will aid in your holiday preparations. Cook County wishes you a safe and happy holiday season and a blessed new year!

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service