~Safety tips for the holiday season

Christmas season is quickly approaching and many of us will be heading to the local merchants to join in with the droves.  This time of year presents a unique danger as busy people often become careless and more subject to theft.

A martial artist is more than just kicking, punching, throwing.  We should always be aware of our surroundings.  And with that, a few tips to consider this Christmas season:

When shopping:

  • Try to shop in the daytime
  • If shopping in daytime isn’t possible, try to park close to the entry and in a well-lit area.
  • Lock your doors and put anything of value out of sight.
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry or carry a lot of cash
  • For women, keep your purse closed and close to your body
  • For men, carry your wallet in your front pocket
  • Don’t get overloaded with too many packages.  Make trips to your car and place items in the trunk.
  • Avoid bathrooms that are tucked away out of sight.
  • Don’t chat away on the cell phone oblivious of your surroundings

When walking:

  • Regardless of where you’re walking, always stay alert of your surroundings.
  • Stay on the main paths that are well lit.
  • Always walk with a purpose and with confidence.  Know where you’re going and notice people around you.  That doesn’t mean stare them down but make eye contact so they see you are aware of their presence.
  • If someone makes you uncomfortable or uneasy, go with your instincts and avoid them.
  • Have your key ready when walking to your vehicle.
  • Try not to walk alone.
  • If you think that someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street and walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house.
  • If someone is going to rob you, it’s probably best to give up your property.  Is anything worth your life?  Immediately call the police with the most accurate description you can give of the attacker.  Report this as quickly as possible to allow the police the best possible chance in apprehending them before someone else is victimized.

When at home:

  • The obvious of making sure windows and doors are locked.
  • If you leave for the holidays, tell your neighbor so they can watch over your home and pick up your mail.
  • When I went out of town for an extended period of time, I called the local police department and they drove by my home.
  • Put lights on timers so it appears someone is home (let neighbor and police know!)
  • Seems everyone likes to display their Christmas tree.  However, be aware that presents under the tree might be inviting to unscrupulous people.
  • After Christmas, be sure to break down the boxes and place them in your garbage can or recycling bin.  No reason to let a potential burglar know about your new big screen TV.

About the guest columnist:  Thomas Gordon is a master level martial artist and owner of Gordon Martial Arts in downtown Crestview.