Well it seems like just yesterday that we were experiencing the heat of Central Texas’ recent history and getting pounded by 100+ degree temperatures. Well, that all is gone now, the weather is now quite chilly, and the Christmas season is now in full swing. Christmas is a great time for family gatherings, worship, great food, and of course all the presents. Despite all the great times and jolly smiles, there are always a few horror stories you hear about this time of year. To keep this Christmas season merry, here a few safety and crime prevention tips to help protect you and your family during this great time of year. Crime Prevention Tips Think about where you are placing your Christmas Tree: – I know this is personal for most people. Although putting your beautiful Christmas Tree in front of window may look great at night when all the lights are on,(and make that one neighbor jealous), this is not the best idea. You are basically letting a potential intruder know that they should be targeting your house. If you really have nowhere else to place your tree, it’s not the end of the world. We would however suggest not putting out all of your presents under the tree ahead of time and instead wait until right before Christmas day. This works two fold because you are not giving a potential robber anything quick to grab, and also it prevents all those little present peepers from snooping around the tree before it’s time. This was a standard rule for my parents with three boys always trying to sneak a peek early. Don’t get careless when you run your holiday errands: – I know there is a lot going on during the holidays and we seem to always be in a rush leading up to Christmas day. When you inevitably run out of butter in the middle of grandma’s secret cookie recipe, don’t be careless when jetting off to the store. Crime statistics have shown lately that more house break-ins are now occurring during the day than at night. Before you leave, leave a light on, blast that Christmas music on the stereo, and defiantly lock up even if it is for just a few minutes. My mom used to take it a step further and put jingle bells on our golden retrievers just to let everyone know that we have two large dogs inside. Report suspicious looking people to the police: – This is standard practice at all times, but especially during Christmas times. Thieves during the Holiday season like to stalk and study their targets, in hopes for a big score. You know your HOA community better than anyone. If someone looks like they don’t belong, or up to something suspicious, chances are, you are right. Don’t hesitate to call the police, you could prevent a crime before it ever occurs. Safety Tips Don’t forget the basics: Proper extension cords and timers: – Before you even get started with your decorations, make sure that you have the proper number of extension cords and light timers. Don’t be the guy who plugs 18 things into one plug. Get the proper cords ahead of time so you don’t short anything out or blow fuses throughout your house. Ensure that all of your cords won’t be anywhere near standing water or metal gutters. Get your lights on a timer system. You don’t have to run outside at night to turn them off in your underwear when it’s cold, it will save you money on your electric bill, and it will help keep any potential thieves away from your property. Don’t be like “Clark Griswold”: Double check all of your lights inside and out: – I know the feeling. All of your lights are all tangled up from when you put them up in a hurry last year. Take the time to inspect all of your lights before putting them up and throw away any frayed cords, cracked lamp holders, or loose connections. Each year, more than 400 residential fires involve Christmas trees, resulting in as many as 40 deaths and 100 injuries. In fact, though Christmas trees cause the fewest holiday-related fires, they account for the greatest percentage of deaths, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Take the time to do it right and be safe Careful with the egg nog when cooking and around fireplaces: – I know this one seems like common sense, but something you can’t overlook. We all have that crazy uncle or aunt who likes to “celebrate” a little too much around Christmas, and that combined with fire, is not good. Be especially careful with the Christmas candles that everyone has. Blow them out before ever leaving the house and don’t leave them near any other flammable material. Double check all of your fire alarms before December. Have your fireplace inspected before using it and keep clutter around the fireplace to a minimum. Also please be careful if you are going to be frying a turkey. It’s one thing to burn the Christmas dinner, it’s another thing to ruin the dinner and blow up the back yard deck as well. Christmas is a great time of year for all ages, young and old. Let’s help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday by following these simple tips. Merry Christmas to all of our HOA and Condo Communities out there.