Washington County Sheriff - Personal Safety
This page contains past articles pertaining to keeping your family safe. Special tips and tricks on traveling, little children and high schoolers safety.
For a list of all archived articles visit our Archived Articles List.
Tips and Information from Bicyles to Vacation Safety
For the sake of maintaining a decent credit score and financing major purchases that cannot wait, you need one credit card. Naturally, you want a credit card with the highest possible credit limit and the lowest possible interest rate.
Be on guard against everyday hazards.
Try to anticipate and pay routine expenses with cash. Using your credit card less, you minimize your exposure. That cute young server who delivered your lunch very easily could have written-down your digits and run-up all kinds of charges from a disposable cell phone by the time you returned to the office. According to Scambusters.org, “Research shows that the rate of fraudulent purchases made by cell phones is much higher than credit card fraud on the net.” If you must use your credit card for business expenses, try not to let it out of your sight. Whether or not the server thinks you are rude, watch her process your transaction; then, carefully enter your thoughtful tip and total the amount yourself. Just as importantly, if you know you frequently will use a credit card, find one that includes cell-phone fraud alerts and lets you track the card’s use from your handheld.
Experts sternly counsel never use your credit card on the telephone—especially never give your credit card information on an incoming call. You have no way of authenticating the call or confirming the caller’s identity. Stories abound about rogue telemarketers who have worked briefly for big banks, memorizing the scripts and perfecting their delivery, then going out to test their criminal skills using the banks’ own lists of borrowers. A few even have run their schemes while remaining on the banks’ payrolls. Especially beware of telephone solicitors who demand too much information: The more they ask, the more you should decline.
Be wary about internet purchases.
Before you worry about the security of an internet purchase, be cautious about its frugality. Check the shipping costs associated with your order as well as the price of the item you like. An extortionate shipping fee will wipe-out your deep discount. If a major retailer offers a great online bargain, call your nearest store and negotiate for similar savings in-store. The best stores—Nordstrom, The Home Depot, and Macy’s, for example–often will meet your demands because they value your loyalty
Never give your credit card information to an unsecured site. Your web browser usually will warn you if you are about to transmit your data to a site not properly encrypted. Never respond to an e-mail that requests your credit card data, and be especially cautious about unsolicited e-mails that ask address and telephone information in addition to your credit card digits. Skilled identity thieves can recreate you with just four or five critical numbers.
Use a good anti-virus program.
Most importantly, maintain your anti-virus software, because sophisticated viruses, often enclosed in fake security software, easily can invade your hard drive and steal all of your personal data. FBI officials report that nearly three-quarters of internet identity theft now originates in malware, and malicious programs proliferate at that the rate more than 100,000 per day.
Track your spending and read your statements.
Reconcile your credit card statements with your records just as religiously as you review and reconcile your checking account statements. When in doubt, contest. If you see a purchase for which you have no receipt or an expense you could not possibly have incurred, call the credit card company’s fraud line. The best, most reputable credit card companies assure they thoroughly investigate all disputed charges; hold them to their promises. More importantly, the best companies will remove the charge from your bill pending the investigation, so that it does not affect your available credit. Apply similar rules to fees. If you dispute any fee’s legitimacy, contest it.
Move shredding to the top of your list for fun evening activities. Shred credit card receipts and unsolicited credit card applications; unless you really intend to use old credit card statements, shred them, too. Better still, go paperless and do the planet a favor. Do not write down your PIN, and try not to use obvious PINs like birthdays and children’s names; indulge your sneaky, devious tendencies as you make-up PINs, and then commit them firmly to memory.
Whether you live in a big city or a small town, there is crime everywhere. However a larger city has more unknowns and it is vital to know how to remain safe on the city streets. People who come from smaller towns may be caught off guard by the amount of crime and violent activity that is present in large cities, but by being aware and taking a few precautions you can stay safe wherever you go.
The most important thing you can do when you are on city streets or anywhere else is to be aware of your surroundings. Understand that criminals look for easy opportunities to assault an unsuspecting victim. A typical target will be a person who is clearly from out of town and may be intimidated by big city life. Be careful where you go, and pay attention to everything and everyone around you. A predator never wants to be seen before committing a crime, so if you walk intently with your head held high and survey everything, you will be a far less likely target.
When you are out at night, try to stay in areas that are brightly lit. Darker streets and alleys offer the perfect cover for an assailant to hide and catch you by surprise. Walk with friends anytime you can, because criminals are far less likely to approach a group than an individual. If you are alone, keep a brisk pace, get to where you are going and make your way inside. As you return to your vehicle, be prepared to get in right away. Lock the door and drive off quickly. You never know when a predator may be nearby watching to see if you linger and give them an opportunity to assault you.
Guard Your Money
In the city there are thousands of people around, so the odds of encountering a predator becomes very high. They watch for potential victims at all times, and one of the things they look for is someone who is obviously carrying a large amount of money or valuable personal items. Never flash cash on a city street, as that will encourage a thief to target you. It's a good idea to keep your money well hidden and located in an area that is difficult to get to. A pick pocket may be able to pull your wallet out of a back or jacket pocket, but will be far less likely to attempt to reach into a front pocket, which makes that an ideal location to store your money and credit cards. Some experts also recommend carrying a second wallet with just a small amount of money and invalid credit cards. That way you have something to turn over if you are ever mugged.
Women should carry their purses close to their bodies, but not with the shoulder strap placed securely around the neck. A purse snatcher may be determined to take what you have, and it can turn violent as they wrench the purse from you. It's better to let a thief take your personal belongings than to risk being hurt. Carry as little cash as possible, and only one or two credit cards. Then if the purse is taken, your loss will not be too great.
A Street Encounter
Although it's always best to be polite, even to strangers, it is a good idea to be very wary of anyone you don't know who approaches you. They may ask for directions, money or anything else. Answer quickly, and continue on your way. If they persist, tell them that you are unable to help and mention that a police officer would be better suited to provide assistance. You may find yourself being followed, and if so remain in a public area. Find a police station or security guard and explain your predicament.
Carrying a personal alarm is a great way to deter strangers who will not back down. Sounding the alarm will grab the attention of everyone around, and focus it on you. A predator won't want to be seen by witnesses, and will leave you alone.
In Case Of Assault
When an attack is unavoidable, you must be prepared to fight back. Practice any self defense maneuvers you know and aim for pressure points on the assailant's body. If you have a self defense weapon like pepper spray or a stun gun, don't be afraid to use it. The device will protect you and leave no permanent damage on the aggressor.
Anyone who has been hurt during a violent assault or rape while visiting the city should seek out immediate medical attention. Get to a hospital as quickly as possible, and make a full report with the police.
Article by: Crime Prevention Tips
- Ride at least three feet from the curb or parked vehicles or debris in curb area and in a straight line. Don't swerve in and out around parked vehicles.
- Always ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Sidewalk riding for bicyclists past the learning stage and being closely supervised by adults can be more dangerous than on the road, obeying traffic laws. It is also illegal unless the community has passed an ordinance specifically permitting sidewalk riding. This can be age-restricted, location-restricted or based on the type of property abutting the sidewalk.
- Obey all traffic laws.
- Be predictable! Let other users know where you intend to go and maintain an understood course.
- Ride in the center of the lane.
- Keep at least three feet between yourself and passing or parked traffic.
- Ride just to the right of the actual traffic line, not alongside the curb.
- Keep at least three feet between yourself and the curb or from parked vehicles. Motorists should be passing you with at least 3 feet of clearance.
Don't get the door prize!
- Ride in a straight line three feet out from parked cars. You'll avoid car doors that open in front of you and you'll be more visible to other drivers.
- Don't pull into the space between parked cars. Ride just to the right of the actual traffic line, not alongside the curb.
- Ride straight, three feet from parked cars - don't get "doored"
Take the lane
You will fare better with other road users if you function like a legal vehicle operator, which you are.
- Right turning motorists can be a problem, but taking the lane or more of the right portion of the wide curb lane can prevent this. Take an adult bicycling course to learn skills and develop confidence in traffic.
- Left turning motorists are the cause of most adult bicyclists’ crashes. Motorists claim not to see the cyclist who is traveling in a straight path in the opposite direction.
Bicyclists, when making your own left turn look over your left shoulder for traffic, signal your left turn and change lanes smoothly, so you are to the left side or center of the through lane by the time you reach the intersection. If a left turn lane is present, make a lane change to center of that lane. Do not move to left of that lane as left-turning motorists may cut you off.
- Do not wait until you reach the crosswalk, then stop and try to ride from a stop across other traffic. If you need to cross as a pedestrian, leave the travel lanes, then get into the crosswalk, walking or riding your bicycle like a pedestrian travels, not fast, and with pedestrian signals.
Lane positioning can be especially important in approaching a downhill intersection. Moving to the center makes you more visible to intersecting and left turning motorists in opposing lanes.
- Going downhill, your speed is likely to be closer to traffic speeds or posted speed limits. Hugging the curb when there are visual barriers increases your chance to be struck by a bigger vehicle, or of hitting a pedestrian or sidewalk riding bicyclist.
- Take the lane, be seen and see other traffic better if you are close to traffic speeds
- Bicycles are vehicles. They belong on the road.
- Cyclists need room to get around potholes, sewer grates and other obstructions.
- Leave at least three feet when passing bicycles, more room at higher speeds.
- Change lanes to pass any bicycle traveling in a narrow lane.
- Train yourself to scan for fast moving (it's hard to tell speed) bicycles and motorcycles in the opposing lane to you when turning left, and scan sidewalks and crosswalks for pedestrians and bicyclists using the sidewalk and crosswalk as a pedestrian. Always scan to your right side sidewalk before you leave a stop light or stop sign. And to the left and right side sidewalks when on a one-way street.
Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.
- CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
- Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
- If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
- Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.
This article from: The National Fire Protection Agency http://www.nfpa.org/
Crime prevention and personal safety tips to help keep you and your community safe from crime.
In these times of economic distress, many people are concerned about the threat of rising crime in their communities. Fortunately, there are ways to help protect your home and your neighborhood from crime. From simple steps like keeping your doors locked to starting a Neighborhood Watch program, there are plenty of things you can do to prevent crime.
Work with your neighbors to keep your neighborhood clean and orderly. Keep spare keys with a trusted neighbor or nearby shopkeeper, not under a doormat or planter, on a ledge, or in the mailbox. Set timers on lights when you're away from home or your business is closed, so they appear to be occupied. Illuminate or eliminate places an intruder might hide: the spaces between trees or shrubs, stairwells, alleys, hallways, and entry ways. With many law enforcement agencies cutting costs, it has never been more important for citizens to work together to prevent crime.
Neighborhood Safety Tips For Parents
Advice for parents on keeping your kids safe in your neighborhood
Tips and information on starting and running a Neighborhood Watch program
Techniques people can use to reduce crime in their communities
Gas Station Theft Prevention
Tips and posters for preventing crime in gas stations
Locking Your Home
Times have changed, and locks have changed, but burglars still look for homes that are easy targets.
Article by: The National Crime Prevention Council
The MOST important thing YOU can do is CALL THE POLICE to report a CRIME or any SUSPICIOUS activity. You have to be the eyes of your neighborhood. And remember you can always remain a pair of anonymous eyes!
Light up your residence, lock your doors at all times, and call the Police when you see something suspicious.
- Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
- Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
- Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
- Keep your garage door closed and locked.
- Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
- Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.
- Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.
- Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
- Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.
- Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.
Don't Tempt a Thief:
- Lawn mowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight
- Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
- Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
- Never leave notes on your door such as “Gone shopping.”
Locks…Get the Best:
- No lock, regardless of its quality, can be truly effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security. Ask a locksmith for advice on your situation.
- Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
- When moving into a new home, have all locks changed.
Targeting the Outside:
- Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
- Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
- Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.
- Most windows can be pinned for security.
- Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail in the hole to secure the window.
- An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There is a wide variety of alarm systems on the market.
- Make several inquiries to different companies for the best security system available to you.
- If you have a home alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system — Alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them.
- Many individuals have alarm systems but do not arm them because it is inconvenient. Many burglars know this and will not be deterred by a window sticker or sign indicating that the home has an alarm system.
If Your Home Is Broken Into:
If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:
- Do not enter - the perpetrator may still be inside.
- Use a neighbor's phone to call police.
- Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
- Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
- Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.
Other precautions you should take:
- Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places -- burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
- Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home — this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.
- Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce cover for burglars.
- Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Mark your valuables with your driver's license number with an engraver you can borrow from your precinct. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.
- Form a Neighborhood Watch Group. We can help you work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary.
- Consider installing a burglar alarm system.
Tips on how to avoid car break-ins:
- Do not leave valuables in plain view:
(GPS devices, lap tops, PDA’s, cell phones, MP3’s, wallets, purses)
- Do not leave windows or sunroof open.
- Do not leave doors unlocked.
- Do not leave keys in the vehicle.
- Do not leave the garage door opener in plain view.
- Do not leave out items with personal information.
- Do not move valuable items to the trunk while in public view.
- Slow Down and use common sense before you leave your car.
Article from: San Jose Police Dept.
Senior Citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:
- Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.
- People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
- Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
- When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.
- Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.
What can you do to defend yourself from scams, frauds and identity theft? Whether you think you have been the victim of a fraud or scam or want to be proactive in protecting yourself, here is a list of specific and simple actions that you can take, some just once, to protect yourself and your family! We have ranked them in order that you should take them:
- Don't use or carry a checkbook. Pay by cash or credit card. Paying your bills through your bank or credit union's online bill paying service (which is usually free) is much safer than mailing a check.
- Buy and use a paper shredder. Shred any documents that have your social security number or other financial information, such as your bank account numbers, credit card numbers etc. identity thieves actually go through homeowner's trash to obtain personal information. If you don't have a shredder, burn these documents completely in the fireplace. For large volumes of sensitive documents, you can go to a paper shredding service.
- Freeze your credit! It prevents scammers from opening unauthorized accounts in your name. Even if your state is one of the few that doesn't allow a freeze, thanks to pressure from consumer advocacy groups, you can still freeze your files at the three major credit bureaus. See this page for more information about both freezes.
- Sign up on the Do-Not-Call List
- Sign up to block credit card offers from arriving in your mailbox.
- Don't carry your Social Security card with you. When you renew your driver's license, make sure the DMV does not use your Social Security number as your driver's license number.
- Use a separate email address when you post messages to any public forum, such as newsgroups and mailing lists. Free email accounts from Yahoo and Hotmail are perfect for this. Never use your personal email address for this purpose: you will be flooded with spam. You can periodically check this email account to see what is spam and what isn't. A bonus is that Yahoo's spam blocker is better than those from most ISP's! And your main personal email address won't be as clogged with spam.
- Don’t give out any financial information, such as checking account and credit card numbers; and especially your social Security number; on the phone or online, unless you initiate the call and know the person or organization you’re dealing with. Don’t give that information to any stranger. In general, it is only required for medical providers, banks, mortgages and credit card companies.
- Don't fill out the "win a vacation" and other promotions you see in stores and shopping malls. That will just get you on a junk mailing list and guarantee calls from persistent, high-pressure salesmen.
- Don’t pre-print your driver’s license, telephone or Social Security numbers on your checks. And in states that want to use your social security number as your driver's license number, insist on another method - most allow it.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately. The bank can block payment on the check numbers that are missing. Also, review new checks you receive, to make sure none has been stolen in transit.
- Store new and cancelled checks, credit card statements, medical bills, and anything with confidential information in a safe place and shred them when you are done with them.
- Guard your Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) for your ATM and credit cards, and don’t write on or keep your PINs with your cards. You should also guard your ATM and credit card receipts. Thieves can use them to access your accounts.
- Be creative in selecting Personal Identification Numbers for your ATM and credit cards, and passwords that enable you to access other accounts. Don’t use birth dates, part of your Social Security Number or driver’s license number, address, or children or spouse names. Remember: If someone has stolen your identity, he or she probably has some or all of this information.
- Use a good anti-virus software, anti-adware software and a hardware firewall on your computer, and keep them up to date. You need all three. Almost all modern Routers have a hardware firewall built in.
- Don’t put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a secure, official Postal Service collection box. Thieves may use your mail to steal your identity.
- If regular bills fail to reach you,call the company to find out why. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address notice to divert your information to his or her address.
- If your bills include suspicious charges, don’t ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
- Check your credit report regularly. Federal law allows you to obtain one from credit report from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies per year
- NEVER buy anything from a company that sends you spam. Don't even visit their sites or ask for more information. It is like feeding a stray cat. Give it one morsel of food, and it will be there all the time (and that may be fine with cats, but NO one wants spammers at the doorstep!). Remember, since they send out millions of spam emails, they only need a tiny fraction of responses to be profitable. And if that doesn't convince you, consider this: the vast majority of spam "offers" are in factscams!
- Set up filters in your email program. Outlook does this quite easily. When you open an email and realize that it is spam, just click on Actions then Create Rule, then select an appropriate action, such as "from" then click "Move e-mail to folder" and select the "Deleted Items" folder. That's it! You'll never receive email from that particular address or subject again!
- If you have a website, do not post your address in the HTML "mail-to" format, otherwise you will be spammed, since address-harvesting spiders (programs) extract your email address from the website and add it to the spammer's lists. Instead use feedback forms through PHP, ASP, or JSP that hide the email address, OR post the email address as a GIF (image file).
- Finally, if it seems too good to be true... IT IS! No one is going to send you a pile of money from a dead Nigerian president, no lottery is going to make you a winner from a "randomly selected from a database of email addresses". Multi-level marketing IS A SCAM, ALL psychics are nothing more than conmen, and you cannot make big money from "passive residual income in a few hours of your spare time each day". And there is no Easter Bunny.
Article taken in part from Consumer Fraud Reporting
All text © Copyright Benivia, LLC 2011
Our national forests are a refuge for wild animals. Wild animals can be upset by human presence and can unexpectedly become aggressive. Do not give them a reason or an opportunity to attack. Always keep your distance. Your safety is your responsibility.
- Avoid outings alone. If you go alone, be extra careful and hunt in familiar areas.
- Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions. Protect against hypothermia.
- Check the weather forecast before going into the woods.
- Identify your target before shooting. Most fatalities are the result of mistaken-for-game accidents.
- Check hunting equipment before and after each outing, and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with its operation before using it in the field.
- Be wary of permanent tree stands made from plywood and pine 2x4s. It is unwise to trust these types of tree stands without checking their structural integrity ahead of time. Falling limbs, wind and moisture weaken permanent tree stands over time and make them unsafe.
- Always wear a safety harness when hunting from a tree stand. Each season, hunters get injured, some seriously, when they fall asleep and take a dive off their tree stands, or slip and fall when climbing in or out of the tree.
- Wear hunter orange. A hat and vest (or coat) that covers the chest and back area in solid orange is required by law. Orange camouflage is not legal. Hunter orange must also be worn by anyone accompanying a firearms deer hunter.
- Don't trespass on your neighbor, and if you see an unfamiliar hunter in your area, escort him (or her) to your property boundary. Never wave to get another hunter's attention, speak loudly in a clear voice.
- Never cross a fence, ride a 4-wheeler or climb a tree with a loaded rifle. Use a tow rope to pull your rifle up and down from your tree stand.
- Be careful when dragging out your deer. Each year, hunters die from heart attacks as a result of overexertion. Get help if you can't handle the chore by yourself. Go slow and take your time.
- Tell someone where you are hunting and when you expect to be home if you are hunting alone. Carrying a cell phone is a good safety precaution if you are hunting alone.
- Never carry a loaded rifle in your truck or car, and be sure to unload your rifle when you get back to camp or when you stop hunting for the day. Assume that every rifle in camp is loaded unless the action is open and you can see that it's safe to handle.
Article presented by: http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/boone/safety/camp/huntsafe.shtml
Every hour someone is getting their identity stolen. Things we take for granted can open the door for a thief. You tell yourself that you have to use a credit card to pay for this or that, or you try to play it safe and write a check at the store instead. You get such a great discount if you apply for this one store’s credit card. All things we all do every day to exist.
Identity theft is happening in every city, town no matter what the size. It is defined by Wikipedia.org as “a form of stealing someone's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name.” It is not just the current economy that brings about this crime, it has happened for decades. As long as there are dishonest people, someone will try to steal something that does not belong to them.
The problem with identity theft is that most of the time you don’t even know it is happening to you. They take your information and open credit card accounts, change the address and contact information, apply for loans, make multiple purchases all while you are sitting at work or on a family vacation. By the time most people realize what is going on, they could have their entire savings wiped out and a damaging credit rating.
Exactly what information do they need to be successful at stealing an identity? Not much. If they can obtain your birth date, address or phone number, they are on their way. They can begin to set up a post office box, a fake driver license, store credit card all in their name and with their photo! Each step they take, they build credibility.
Information is obtained from many sources: school, health insurance carrier and any other mail you leave in your mailbox for “pick up” the next day. Some even go so far as picking through your garbage to get more information from bills, credit card slips and any other documents you do not shred.
Key Tips In Staying Safe
- Don’t leave outgoing mail in your mailbox. Drop it off at the post office or a local box at a business.
- Don’t advertise personal information on social media.
- Don’t give out personal information on phone surveys, via email or on the Internet unless you initiated the process; like signing up for a new online account. BEWARE: it is always best to get a special charge card that you use only for Internet purchases. Ask the bank to put a limit on the amount that you might normally spend on a given shopping spree. Be reasonable and conservative. Having a $10,000 limit is not a limit. Try capping the card at $1,000 or less. Check with your bank.
- Buy a shredder and use it. Shred all documents received in the mail that has your name, address and any other personal information before you throw it out. This includes insurance forms, bank statements and unsolicited memberships.
- Make your passwords difficult. If they are easy enough for you to remember without looking, they are too easy to steal. The best passwords are the longest and those that merge upper and lower case letters with numbers. It has been said that using a 3-word statement is the hardest to crack. Of course never use the name of the site, your name, your mother’s maiden name, your birth date or any numbers from your social security number. e.g.: gokart20tabledrive12.
- Limit the number of credit cards you hold and especially ones you carry. Never carry your social security card, birth certificate or passport, unless necessary.
- Never use a credit card on the Internet unless you see it is a locked and encrypted site. (Https:// instead of http://). Look for a lock icon on the page.
- Limit your personal information being distributed as much as possible. Put as little information as you can on your checks. Never put your social security number or phone number on your checks or any other forms without viewing their privacy notice.
- Approach ATMs with caution. Don’t let anyone get in line directly behind you when you are entering your information. Either ask them to step back or leave without doing your transaction. If they get your PIN number, they will have access to your entire account.
- Always keep a list of your credit cards, numbers and customer service phone numbers in a safe place. Keep your passwords and pin numbers with them.
- Ordering checks or a new credit card? Circle the date they said you would receive them and then call if you don’t receive it that day.
- Keep track of your monthly bills. Know approximately when they normally arrive. If anyone is late, call the company and express your concern. This is a good indication of identity theft.
- Order your credit report at least twice a year. Reports should be obtained from all three major sources: Equifax at 800-685-1111; Experian at 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); or TransUnion at 800-680-7293.
Should you be the victim of identity theft, contact your local law enforcement agency, all your credit card agencies and complete an identity theft packet.
Article by: Helen Neal
Increasing Crime Rates in poor economic conditions
It is a fact of life, when the economy is declining, crime rates rise all over the United States. As more people lose their jobs and homes, they start to feel a sense of desperation, and sometimes turning to criminal activities appears to be the only solution.
The number of robberies, burglaries and auto thefts often increase dramatically when times get tough, and the worse the economy gets the more these and other crimes are likely to occur. People may feel that stealing from businesses or individuals may be the only way for them to survive. To make matters worse, as times get tough financially many law enforcement agencies are forced to endure budget cuts, limit the number of deputies they have on patrol, hold off on purchasing necessary equipment and discontinue important community and social programs that help keep young people away from a life of crime, gangs and other illegal activities.
Although many of the people who turn to crime during a recession would normally do everything possible to avoid violence, when people get desperate they become likely to do most anything. Both non-violent and violent crime rates increase as people lose their jobs and are forced to fend for themselves.
Sometimes the increase in crime is not only due to someone who has lost their job and can’t make ends meet; it is also seen for those who graduated college and now can’t find a job. Under these difficult circumstances, many people turn to alcohol for comfort, and that usually makes things worse. Alcohol consumption is commonly associated with an increase in crime. When alcohol is mixed with desperation from bad economic times, the combination can be deadly. Crimes are far more likely to be violent when the aggressor has been drinking.
How to Protect Yourself
So what can you do to protect yourself? One of the best ways to avoid crime is simply to be aware that you could become a victim at any time. Try not to go out on your own late at night, but if that's not possible at least stay in areas that are well lit and have plenty of people around. Never park your car in a dark, unattended lot where a predator may be lurking and waiting for someone. Stay alert wherever you go, and pay attention to your surroundings. Watch for predators, and remember that they are looking for someone who appears to be timid that they can take advantage of. Times get tough now and then, and crime rates almost always skyrocket. Your mind set will have a lot to do it. Don't let yourself become a victim, always be cautious and do what you can to stay away from danger.
Article from: Crime Prevention Tips
Ponzi and pyramid schemes promise investors high returns or dividends not usually available through traditional investments. While they may meet this promise to early investors, people who invest in the scheme later usually lose their money. Find out how to avoid these scams.
‘Ponzi’ schemes are named after their creator Charles Ponzi who, in the 1920s, guaranteed a 50% return to investors in the US. However, much of the subsequent money he received was used to pay ‘dividends’ to earlier investors. The scheme collapsed when he was unable to attract more money to pay investors who entered the scheme later.
Pyramid schemes work in much the same way, although investors are encouraged to recruit more people and money by being paid commission when they do so. These scams can also be called ‘franchise fraud’, ‘multi-level marketing’ or a ‘chain referral scheme’.
REMEMBER: IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS!
How it works
Ponzi and pyramid schemes occur where payments are made to existing investors using money from new investors. This helps make the scheme seem genuine and profitable to the early investors and encourages them to attract more people and money.
But both types of scheme collapse when the unsustainable supply of new investors and money dries up. Investors usually find most or all of their money is gone, and that the fraudsters who set up the scheme claimed much of it for themselves.
The schemes often involve ‘affinity fraud’ as respected members of a group can be targeted first, receive a high return on their investment and promote the scheme to others before it collapses.
The focus of pyramid schemes is often on money that can be earned from recruiting new investors rather than the return on investment.
How to protect yourself
Beware of investment opportunities that offer unrealistic returns and consider getting independent professional advice before making any investment decision.
Also be careful when an opportunity to invest your money requires you to bring in subsequent investors to increase your profit – and be especially wary if you are told you can earn more from introducing investors than from the return on investment.
Article from FCA
Slips and falls can be costly accidents when you consider human suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and public good will. When snow and ice accumulates on walking surfaces, the potential for slips and falls greatly increases. Unsafe conditions are accidents waiting to happen. The right attitudes and actions can prevent and mitigate many of these accidents.
Care about safety - what YOU can do personally
- Wear proper footwear, smooth leather soles are a no-no.
- Wear boots with good treads and carry your shoes into the office.
- Try to stick to pathways that are well maintained. Don't take shortcuts.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Don't hurry and be observant of conditions.
- Park your wet boots where puddles from melting snow won't create hazards for others.
- Promptly report slippery conditions to your supervisor.
- Immediately report falls to your supervisor.
These simple steps can help you save children from environmental hazards around the home:
- Storing Pesticides and Chemicals – Always store pesticides and other household chemicals, including chlorine bleach, out of children's reach -- preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Read the Label FIRST! Pesticide products, household cleaning products, and pet products can be dangerous or ineffective if too much or too little is used.
- Before applying pesticides or other household chemicals, remove children and their toys, as well as pets, from the area. Keep children and pets away until the pesticide has dried or as long as is recommended on the label.
- If your use of a pesticide or other household chemical is interrupted (perhaps by a phone call), properly reclose the container and remove it from children’s reach. Always use household products in child-resistant packaging.
- Never transfer pesticides to other containers that children may associate with food or drink(like soda bottles), and never place rodent or insect baits where small children can get to them.
- When applying insect repellents to children, read all directions first; do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin; do not apply to eyes, mouth, hands, or directly on the face; and use just enough to cover exposed skin or clothing, but do not use under clothing.
- Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. If you plan to remodel or renovate, get your home tested . Don’t try to remove lead paint yourself.
- Ask about lead when buying or renting a home. Sellers and landlords must disclose known lead hazards in houses or apartments built before 1978.
- Get your child tested for lead. There are no visible symptoms of lead poisoning, and children may suffer behavior or learning problems as a result of exposure to lead hazards.
- Wash children’s hands, toys, and bottles often. Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces to reduce possible exposure to lead and pesticide residues.
Tips from EPA website
Vacation is a time to get away for a little R&R, but that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down when it comes to protecting your identity.
Experts say travelers are vulnerable to computer and mobile phone hacking, which can lead to personal information being compromised. Whether it’s connecting to the Internet via a hotel’s Wi-Fi or checking flight information in a café, travelers are more susceptible to attacks when they are in an unfamiliar environment.
“When you are at home, you carefully set up your network, router and wireless access point and make it the most secure as possible,” says Jason Glassberg, co-founder of security consulting company Casaba. “When you are traveling, you are at the mercy of the infrastructure you connect to.”
Security experts say a hotel’s internet connection is risky because of all the other travelers’ using the network and that it’s hard to confirm the security of a network.
“You can become victimized by so me malware or nasty program installed on your computer,” says Glassberg. “The other risk is that you put yourself in a position where people can sit on the network watching your traffic flow from your computer to whatever you are connecting to. You can imagine connecting to your bank from your hotel—there will be pretty interesting information passed.”
How to Stay Protected
There are easy ways to protect your computer on the go that don’t cost a fortune. Personal virtual private network (VPN) software is affordable and allows you to use your network at home to access the Internet while you are traveling. According to Glassberg, a personal VPN creates an encrypted connection to your home network, offering network security from anywhere in the world. “It’s very easy to install and configure. Many new routers have them built in at no additional expense,” says Glassberg. “It’s very difficult for someone to snoop and see what you are doing when using a personal VPN.”
Another way to ensure safety is to limit your computer activity while on the road. “Unless you really need to do your banking, don’t” says Glassberg. “Wait until you are at home.”
If you have to use the Internet, Sahba Kazerooni, managing director at Security Compass, recommends verifying a network’s authenticity. For instance, if you are in a hotel, before you connect call down to the front desk to ensure you have the right network. If at all possible, Kazerooni says to only connect to networks that require a password.
Another defense tactic is to turn off the auto connect feature on your computer and phone. According to Kazerooni, auto connect means your device is constantly looking to connect to a Wi-Fi network. It’s easy for a hacker to put up a hotspot that has the same network name. “A lot of people aren’t aware of the auto connect feature,” says Kazerooni.
If you haven’t created one already, make sure to create strong passwords on every device before heading on vacation in case it gets lost or stolen.
Article by Fox Business
Avoiding Credit and Charge Card Fraud
A thief goes through trash to find discarded receipts or carbons, and then uses your account numbers illegally.
A dishonest clerk makes an extra imprint from your credit or charge card and uses it to make personal charges.
You respond to a mailing asking you to call a long distance number for a free trip or bargain-priced travel package. You're told you must join a travel club first and you're asked for your account number so you can be billed. The catch! Charges you didn't make are added to your bill, and you never get your trip.
Credit and charge card fraud costs cardholders and issuers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. While theft is the most obvious form of fraud, it can occur in other ways. For example, someone may use your card number without your knowledge.
It's not always possible to prevent credit or charge card fraud from happening. But there are a few steps you can take to make it more difficult for a crook to capture your card or card numbers and minimize the possibility.
Guarding Against Fraud
Here are some tips to help protect yourself from credit and charge card fraud.
- Sign your cards as soon as they arrive.
- Carry your cards separately from your wallet, in a zippered compartment, a business card holder, or another small pouch.
- Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place.
- Keep an eye on your card during the transaction, and get it back as quickly as possible.
- Void incorrect receipts.
- Destroy carbons.
- Save receipts to compare with billing statements.
- Open bills promptly and reconcile accounts monthly, just as you would your checking account.
- Report any questionable charges promptly and in writing to the card issuer.
- Notify card companies in advance of a change in address.
- Lend your card(s) to anyone.
- Leave cards or receipts lying around.
- Sign a blank receipt. When you sign a receipt, draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
- Write your account number on a postcard or the outside of an envelope.
- Give out your account number over the phone unless you're making the call to a company you know is reputable. If you have questions about a company, check it out with your local consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau.
Reporting Losses and Fraud
If you lose your credit or charge cards or if you realize they've been lost or stolen, immediately call the issuer(s). Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies. By law, once you report the loss or theft, you have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges. In any event, your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per card.
If you suspect fraud, you may be asked to sign a statement under oath that you did not make the purchase(s) in question.
Article provided by: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre07.shtm
As you know, crime is on the increase in most large U.S. cities. It is also becoming more prevalent in small communities. You can make yourself less of a target and it is easier than you might think.
Criminals are always looking for new targets, and they prefer people who seem to be weak, timid and unable to defend themselves. You must not fit the profile of a victim and do whatever you can to keep out of their way. It will not always be possible to avoid confrontation, so you should also know what to do if you are threatened with violence.
A trip to a public park can be a fun and exciting time. Whether it's a quick adventure to a local spot where your kids can play, or a big outing to a national park, people all over the United States enjoy taking a little time to enjoy the many benefits a park has to offer. It is, however, important to be prepared and plan ahead for safety.
Although some people may only think of parks as being small play areas for children, they are great for grown up as well. Adults use them for walking, jogging, hiking, sight-seeing and many other purposes. Nothing could ruin a good experience like this faster than running into some type of predator.
Whether you are in a national park or a local community park you need to be aware of who or what is around you. Predators can be animal or human. If you jog regularly through a park you get to recognize others who are in the park at the same time. Criminals know how to find someone when they are alone and not paying enough attention to their surroundings. Law breakers watch for easy targets; people who are isolated, vulnerable and easy to take by surprise. That makes it important to always be extra cautious. Try to avoid areas that are dark, or have obstacles that someone could hide behind. Criminals like to take advantage of secluded areas where they can hide and surprise a potential victim. Take in everything that is around you, and try not to look lost, confused or timid. These are all traits that aggressors like muggers and thieves look for, but if they see someone who is actively aware of their surroundings, confident and possibly the type to fight back, chances are they will leave you alone.
Keeping Kids Safe
Children enjoy a day at the park. They like to run around and play, but it is essential to keep a watchful eye on them and make sure they are close by at all times. Predators often use parks as a place to hide and watch for potential victims, and a kid who has strayed far away from adult supervision is an easy target. Go into the play area with your younger children, or sit and watch nearby. If your child gets far enough away that you could not get to them quickly, either move or call them back over to you.
Another great way to keep children safe in a park is to give them a personal alarm that emits a high pitched squalling noise when activated. You can choose a model that the child can turn on whenever he or she feels threatened, or one that automatically starts up anytime they move out of a specified distance from you. It will let everyone around know that something is wrong, and draw immediate attention to your child.
Even if you're only going to a park that's down the street from your home, it's important to be prepared. Always take a phone with you in case you need to make an emergency call. If something happens and you need to dial 911, you will want to have a cell so you can call immediately. If you are going to an area where you may be alone, especially after dark, you may want to take a personal alarm to protect yourself and notify others that you are in danger.
A crime or an emergency can happen at any time, so always be ready for everything. Take a few precautions in advance, remain well aware of everything that's going on around you and have a great time at the park.
Article by: Crime Prevention Tips
When you're traveling for business or pleasure, make sure you remember these safety tips provided by the American Hotel and Motel Association:
- Don't answer the door in a hotel or motel room without first verifying the identity of the person at the door. If the person claims to be an employee, call the front desk and ask if someone from their staff is supposed to have access to your room and for what purpose.
- When returning to your hotel or motel late in the evening, use the main entrance of the hotel. Be observant and look around before entering parking lots.
- Close the door securely whenever you are in your room and use all of the locking devices provided.
- Don't needlessly display guest room keys in public or carelessly leave them on restaurant tables, at the swimming pool, or other places where they can be easily stolen.
- Do not draw attention to yourself by displaying large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry.
- Don't invite strangers to your room.
- Place all valuables in the hotel or motel's safe deposit box.
- Do not leave valuables in your vehicle.
- Check to see that any sliding glass doors or windows and any connecting room doors are locked.
- If you see any suspicious activity, please report your observations to the management.
- Discretely carry a map and be familiar with the area you are visiting. Plan trips in advance.
- Don't leave purses or pocketbooks on the back of a chair when dining out; keep them in your lap and insight.
- Keep your wallet in the front pocket of pants or a jacket pocket, not in the rear pocket.
Crime and the fear of crime create special problems for the elderly. Crime prevention is everyone's responsibility, not just a job for law enforcement. Seniors can learn how to protect themselves from crime by following these simple, commonsense suggestions. Share these tips with your neighbors and friends, to make it tough for criminals to work in your neighborhood.
AT HOME . . .
- Never open your door automatically. Install and use a peephole.
- Lock your doors and windows. (Three quarters of the burglaries involving older persons involved unlocked doors and windows; and, less than one half of these robberies are reported.) Keep your garage doors locked.
- Vary your daily routine.
- Use "Neighbor Watch" to keep an eye on your neighborhood. A concerned neighbor is often the best protection against crime because suspicious persons and activities are noticed and reported to police promptly.
- Don't leave notes on the door when going out.
- Leave lights on when going out at night; use a timer to turn lights on and off when you are away for an extended period.
- Notify neighbors and the police when going away on a trip. Cancel deliveries such as newspapers and arrange for someone - a neighbor's child, perhaps - to mow the lawn if need be. Arrange for your mail to be held by the Post Office, or ask a neighbor to collect it for you.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers to make repairs to your home. Deal only with reputable businesses.
- Keep an inventory with serial numbers and photographs of resaleable appliances, antiques and furniture. Leave copies in a safe place.
- Don't hesitate to report crime or suspicious activities.
- Install deadbolt locks on all your doors.
- Keep your home well lit at night, inside and out; keep curtains closed.
- Ask for proper identification from delivery persons or strangers. Don't be afraid of asking . . . if they are legitimate they won't mind.
- If a stranger asks to use your telephone, offer to place the call for him or her yourself.
- Never let a stranger into your home. Do not hide your keys under the mat or in other conspicuous places.
- Never give out information over the phone indicating you are alone or that you won't be home at a certain time.
- If you arrive at home and suspect a stranger may be inside, DON'T GO IN. Leave quietly and call 911 to report the crime.
WALKING . . .
- If you are attacked on the street, make as much noise as possible by calling for help or blowing a whistle. Do not pursue your attacker. Call 911 and report the crime as soon as possible.
- Avoid walking alone at night. Try to have a friend accompany you in high risk areas . . . even during the daytime.
- Avoid carrying weapons . . . they may be used against you.
- Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Walk confidently.
- Stay away from buildings and doorways; walk in well-lighted areas.
- Have your key ready when approaching your front door.
- Don't dangle your purse away from your body. (Twelve percent of all crimes against the elderly are purse snatchings and street robberies.)
- Don't carry large, bulky shoulder bags; carry only what you need. Better yet, sew a small pocket inside your jacket or coat. If you don't have a purse, no one will try to snatch it.
WHILE SHOPPING . . .
- Carry your purse very close to you . . . don't dangle it from your arm. Never leave your purse in a shopping cart. Never leave your purse unattended.
- Don't carry any more cash than is necessary. Many grocery stores now accept checks and automatic teller cards instead of cash.
- Don't display large sums of cash.
- Use checks where possible.
IN YOUR CAR . . .
- Always keep your car doors locked, whether you are in or out of your car. Keep your gas tank full and your engine properly maintained to avoid breakdowns.
- If your car breaks down, pull over to the right as far as possible, raise the hood, and wait INSIDE the car for help. Avoid getting out of the car and making yourself a target before police arrive.
- At stop signs and traffic lights, keep the car in gear.
- Travel well-lit and busy streets. Plan your route.
- Don't leave your purse on the seat beside you; put it on the floor, where it is more difficult for someone to grab it.
- Lock bundles or bags in the trunk. If interesting packages are out of sight, a thief will be less tempted to break in to steal them.
- When returning to your car, check the front and back seat before entering.
- Never pick up hitchhikers.
BANKING . . .
- Many criminals know exactly when government checks arrive each month, and may pick that day to attack. Avoid this by using Direct Deposit, which sends your money directly from the government to the bank of your choice. And, at many banks, free checking accounts are available to senior citizens. Your bank has all the information.
- Never withdraw money from your bank accounts for anyone except YOURSELF. Be wary of con artists and get-rich schemes that probably are too-good-to-be- true.
- You should store valuables in a Safe Deposit Box.
- Never give your money to someone who calls on you, identifying himself as a bank official. A bank will never ask you to remove your money. Banks need the use of your money, and they don't want one of their customers to invite crime by having large amounts of cash around.
- When someone approaches you with a get-rich-quick-scheme involving some or all of YOUR savings, it is HIS get-rich-quick-scheme. If it is a legitimate investment, the opportunity to contribute your funds will still be there tomorrow-after you have had time to consider it.
- If you have been swindled or conned, report the crime to your local police. Con-artists count on their victim's reluctance to admit they've been duped, but if you delay you help them get away. Remember, if you never report the crime, they are free to cheat others again and again and you have no chance of ever getting your money back.
- Trim shrubs and bushes and use outdoor lighting to eliminate places where a prowler could hide.
- Doors should have peepholes at a height that everyone can use.
- If someone comes to your door and claims to be a government or utility official, ask for a name and a badge so that you can call the agency to confirm the person's identity. If you cannot verify someone's identity at your front door, call 911 immediately.
- Residents need to be wary of anyone offering repairs or contract work door-to-door. A quick way to verify whether a company is legitimate is to ask to see a copy of their operating license and call the company.
- If someone claims they need to use your phone, offer to make the call yourself instead.
- Leave spare keys with a trusted neighbor, not under a doormat or planter or other obvious hiding place.
- Lock exterior doors at night and everytime you leave the house, even if it's just for a few minutes.
- Keep outdoor lights on in the evening -- whether or not someone is home.
- Windows should be locked at all times, even when opened a few inches for ventilation.
- Use a dowel or pin to secure sliding glass doors.
- Lock gates, garage doors, and shed doors after every use.
- Lock grills, lawn mowers, bicycles and other valuables in a garage or shed, or cover them with a top and securely lock them to a stationary object.
- Do not leave tools outside, where they could be used to break into your house.
- Use timers to turns lights and televisions on and off when you are not home.
- If you are away for an extended time, stop mail and newspaper deliveries, and ask a neighbor to remove any fliers that might be placed on your door.
- Keep valuables in a floor or wall safe. When installing a safe, avoid obvious locations such as the master bedroom closet.
- Complete a home inventory like this one. If your valuables or credit cards are lost or stolen, you will have serial numbers and phone numbers handy.
In the United States, lightning kills 300 people and injures 80 on average, each year. All thunderstorms produce lightning and all have the potential for danger. Those dangers can include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, wildfires and flash flooding, which is responsible for more fatalities than any other thunderstorm-related hazard.
Lightning's risk to individuals and property is increased because of its unpredictability, which emphasizes the importance of preparedness. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
Before Thunderstorm and Lightning
To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
- Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
- Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.
During Thunderstorms and Lightning
If thunderstorm and lightning are occurring in your area, you should:
- Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
- Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
- Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
- Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
- Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
- Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
- Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
- If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
After a Thunderstorm or Lightning Strike
If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 9-1-1 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:
- Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
- Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.
After the storm passes remember to:
- Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown!
- Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.
- Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
- Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
- Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
- Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.
Article from: http://www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning
It is estimated that $65 million is lost each year in the United States in home invasions, muggings, and in other violent crimes. It is estimated that $600 billion is lost per year due to fraud. Work place violence caused an estimated $30 billion to American businesses last year.
It is important to be aware a crime can occur, anticipating the location, time, and taking action to reduce the chance of it happening. Crime prevention is key to stopping the ability and opportunity for a criminal. The use of instinct, knowledge, common sense, and awareness can make you a tough target.
Three Basic Rules
- Stay alert.
- Keep your mind on your surroundings, who's in front of you and who's behind you. Don't get distracted.
- Walk purposefully, stand tall, and make eye contact with people around you.
- TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, leave.
- Make yourself a "tough target."
- Don't think that it can't happen to you.
- Should you resist? Everyone and every situation is different.
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- If being followed or stalked, call 911 or drive directly to a police station
If You’re Attacked
- Keep your head. Stay as calm as possible and evaluate your options and resources.
- It may be more advisable to submit than to resist and risk severe injury or death. You will have to make this decision based on the circumstances. But, don't resist if the attacker has a weapon.
- Keep assessing the situation as it is happening. If one strategy doesn't work, try another. Possible options include negotiating, stalling for time, distracting the assailant and fleeing to a safe place, verbal assertiveness, screaming, and physical resistance.
- You may be able to turn the attacker off with unusual behavior such as throwing up, acting crazy, or stating you have a sexually transmitted disease.
After a Sexual Assault
- Go to a safe place and call the police.
- The sooner you report the crime, the greater the chances your attacker will be caught.
- DO NOT shower, bathe, douche, or destroy any clothing you were wearing. Do not disturb any physical evidence.
- Go to a hospital emergency room for medical care.
- Call someone to be with you. You should not be alone. Contact a rape treatment or crisis center to help you deal with the consequences of the assault.
- Keep your car in good condition with the gas tank at least half full.
- Park in well-lighted areas and lock your doors, no matter how long you'll be gone.
- Put valuables out of sight or in the trunk.
- Check front and rear seats, and floorboards before entering your car.
- Drive with all doors locked and windows rolled up.
- Never pick up hitchhikers. If your car breaks down, put the hood up, lock the doors, turn on the flashers, and move to the passenger seat. Do not leave your car. If someone stops to help, roll down the window slightly and ask them to call the police or a tow truck.
- Avoid underground and enclosed parking garages if possible.
- When parking or returning to your vehicle, carry your keys and be aware of your surroundings.
- Consider investing in a cellular telephone.
- Try to use well-lighted and frequently used stops.
- Try to sit near the driver or conductor.
- Avoid sitting near exits. An attacker can reach in and grab a purse or jewelry as the bus or subway pulls away.
- Be alert to who gets off the bus or subway with you. If you feel uncomfortable, walk directly to a place where there are other people.
In an Elevator
- Look in the elevator before getting in.
- Stand near the controls.
- Get off if someone suspicious enters. If you're worried about someone who is waiting for the elevator with you, pretend you forgot something and don't get on.
- If you're attacked, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as possible.
Article taken in part from: Michigan.Gov
The Sheriff’s Office offers the following tips for safe and enjoyable bicycling:
We can make bicycling safer for all by observing the following safety tips:
- Always wear a helmet
- Obey all traffic controls
- Ride your bicycle near the right-hand edge of the road
- Never carry another person on your bicycle
- Always use hand signals when turning or stopping
- Look out for cars at cross street, driveways, and parking places
- Be careful when checking traffic and don't swerve when looking over your shoulder
- Give pedestrians the right-of-way
- Keep your bicycle in good condition
- Always ride carefully
Remember a bicycle is a vehicle. Bicyclists share a complex traffic environment with other larger forms of transportation. Youngsters under age nine lack the physical and mental development to interact safely in that environment.
Article from: http://www.adventuresportsonline.com/bikesafe.htm
After being stuck inside all winter, many people anxiously await the arrival of the warm spring season weather. But, there are some who dread the potential increase in crimes caused by rising temperatures.
Tracy Siska, executive director at the Chicago Justice Project, says there is a correlation between rising temperatures and violent crimes.
“Violence increases, especially street violence, muggings, assaults, battery,” Siska says. “Across the boards most crimes increase.”
Siska speculates that the spike in crime may be due to the increase in the number of interactions that people have with one another during the warmer months. Warmer weather can bring together potential wrongdoers, victims, and belongings all in the same place.
Roger Humber, director of the Criminal Justice department at South University — Montgomery agrees that warmer temperatures alone may not be to blame for an increase in crime. Like Siska, he says the rise in social interactions may be a factor.
“A factor may be the heat, or it may just be that we are all active more during this time,” he says, adding that people may experience a form of heat aggravation in warm weather that causes them to lose their temper more easily.
Examining Factors Behind Crime Increase
Although many law enforcement departments across the country report increases in crime during warm weather months, Laura Brinkman, associate director at the University of Chicago Crime Lab says there is no clear causal explanation for the pattern that is consistently applicable across different urban settings.
Violence increases, especially street violence, muggings, assaults, battery.
“For example, it could be that it’s not the weather, but the academic summer break that leads to a spike in violent crime,” Brinkman says. “Juveniles are the most likely to commit crime, in general, so it seems almost obvious that crime may peak during summer months when students are off from school with idle hands.”
Chicago received a great deal of media attention during the spring and summer 2010 months, due to a rash of violent crimes in the city’s South Side area.
Siska says the level of violence during this time period wasn’t necessarily greater than usual, but the press put more emphasis on it than they have in the past.
Brinkman says statistics have shown that homicides in Los Angeles, which has warm temperatures most of the year, are the highest during July and August, but are almost as high during December and January as well.
“So despite the fact that juveniles contribute to a large portion of violent crime, there is nothing special about summer that causes an increase in offending in Los Angeles,” says Brinkman. “This could suggest that the relationship between homicide and summer in Chicago is due to temperature, rather than the fact that students are on summer break.”
Brinkman adds that these statistics could also simply mean that Los Angeles has found a better way to decrease the homicides that occur during the summer months than is used in Chicago.
“Adding to the tenuousness of the summer-break murder-spike theory in Chicago is the fact that the majority of school-age homicide victims in Chicago are actually not enrolled in school, making summer break no different a time of year for these individuals than when school is in session, aside from weather of course,” Brinkman says. “That is unless the addition of school children to the mix of individuals out and about in a given neighborhood somehow exacerbates pre-existing tension, which is again, hard to measure.”
Regardless of the reason behind the violence, Humber says that law enforcement should provide extra resources in areas with the highest amounts of crime.
“Additional patrols in high-risk areas, shortening response time to calls for service during times when criminal activity is most pronounced may help,” Humber says.
Siska believes that for the most part, there is adequate police coverage even in the areas of Chicago with the highest crime rates. He says that although some police officers could be transferred from areas with lower crime rates to the areas that see the most crime, it wouldn’t necessarily lower crime in the city.
“There’s a difference between prevention and displacement,” Siska says. “It changes who was victimized.”
Siska says that for the past 50 years, Chicago has been saying they were going to find a way to end the violence in the city and they haven’t, so something else needs to be done to stop it.
Sergeant Dave Jacobson, of the Oak Park Police Department, in Oak Park, Illinois, says he has occasionally seen an increase in crimes that could be attributed to warmer weather, for example property crimes such as bike thefts and auto break-ins.
“With warmer weather, people tend to start bringing out and leaving out valuables, such as bicycles, lawn furniture, etc,” Jacobson says. “This creates more opportunities for would-be criminals to commit theft.”
“You also might see more fights between teenagers as they start to spend more time hanging out outside,” Jacobson adds.
Although the spring can be a dangerous time in major cities, people are advised to always take safety precautions.
“Always be aware of your surroundings; when possible avoid unfamiliar or potentially unsafe situations; don’t leave valuables outside where they can easily be stolen; and never hesitate to call 911 if you observe anything suspicious,” Jacobson advises.
Author: Laura Jerpi
Source: Reprinted from the South Source website article “As Weather Warms Up , So Do Opportunities For Crime”.
Article at South University
Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.
Last Revised: 2015