Staying safe for the holidays

Published 12:57 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas time is here, and officials and experts are asking people to be safe in their shopping, travel and home living.

Sheriff Wiley Griffin offers the following safety tip for people who are out doing last-minute holiday shopping.

“Pay close attention to where you park your vehicle and if possible, park close to a light pole. When leaving the shopping center, have your keys in hand and be on the lookout for any suspicious activities. If it is dark or you feel uncomfortable, ask someone you trust to escort you to your car. Be sure to get in and lock your doors before pulling out of your parking space. Trust your instincts, they’re usually not wrong.”

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“If shopping with children, always establish a meeting place in case family members become separated. Make sure children have a cell phone number they can call to reach you. Encourage children to go to a store clerk or security officer and ask for help if needed. Lastly, always escort children to a store’s restroom or fitting room to ensure their safety in public.”

Capt. Liz Croley offered a special tip for ladies with purses.

“Always keep your purse closed in public; do not leave it unattended in a shopping cart or set it down on the floor or counter,” Croley said.

More safety information is available at the Sheriff’s Office, 912 Spring Creek Road, or its Web site,


Avoiding property theft

People can keep themselves and their property safe during the holidays by remembering some common-sense crime prevention tips, said Investigator Mark Esquivel of Bainbridge Public Safety. Esquivel offered these tips to avoid property theft:

• Make sure your vehicles are locked when you’re not using them. In about 75 percent of cases involving items taken from cars, the car’s doors were unlocked, he said.

• If you’re out shopping, don’t leave valuable items visible inside the car. Place wallets, purses and other valuable items out of sight or lock them in the car’s trunk.

• If you’re outside late at night, have someone go with you. Most people who report being mugged were alone at the time.

• Lock your home’s doors and windows while you are away.


Safety urged for holiday travel

Motorists should take three simple precautions to remain safe while traveling to visit family and friends, said Sgt. First Class Marc Godby of the Georgia State Patrol post in Colquitt, Ga. Sgt. Godby urged drivers to avoid driving after drinking alcoholic beverages.

Each year in Georgia, more than 500 people are killed in vehicle crashes where alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both are involved, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

SFC Godby said travelers can also keep safe by obeying posted speed limits and by making sure everyone, especially children, uses their seat belts.

Drivers can report anyone they suspect of driving under the influence by dialing *G-S-P on their cell phone or calling 911.


Fire safety

Christmas decorations and trees can be fire hazards if not treated carefully, said Deputy Fire Chief Doyle Welch of Bainbridge Public Safety. Welch said it is important to determine whether lights are meant to be used outdoors or indoors. Lights’ wiring can be different depending on how they are meant to be used and can start a fire if used improperly, he said. Welch and Firefighter Patrick Cofty of Decatur Co. Fire and Rescue offered these reminders:

• Don’t overload extension cords by plugging in too many lights or objects. Make sure extension cords bear the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) symbol, which verify that cords meet safety requirements.

• Turn off decoration lights when you go to bed.

• Make sure Christmas trees have plenty of water and keep them away from candles or other heat sources. Avoid placing them in front of a door which could be used to escape from a fire.

• Give electric or kerosene-fueled heaters several feet of space between curtains, furniture or anything which could catch fire. Don’t use gasoline in kerosene heaters.

• Don’t leave candles or stoves burning unattended.

• Don’t burn trash or debris in fireplaces. Have chimneys cleaned and screen fireplaces.

• Make sure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors located throughout your house. Inform overnight guests of your home’s fire escape plan.