CAC's safety tips for Christmas
The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), through its communications specialist Dorothy Campbell, is urging citizens to adopt safe practices as they do their shopping and go about their various activities during the festive season.
"One of the things that we at (the CAC) want to remind consumers about is safety during the Christmas season," she said. "Safety covers everything that you do within the season. We travel more, we shop more, and we are interacting with more people, so we need to ensure that we use extra precaution during this period."
She advised persons who are planning to travel during the holidays to ask a neighbour or a good friend to watch their house as burglars often target homes that are unoccupied.
She also urged persons when they are leaving home, to inform a family member, neighbour, or friend of their whereabouts. This, she said, is particularly important for children and teenagers.
"When you are going out alone, call someone and let them know 'I am going out and I will be back at this time'. Make sure that someone knows where you are," she said.
Campbell advised parents and guardians to create a communication network that ensures that each person is aware of the other's exact location, time of arrival, as well as an agreed-upon central meeting area.
"If you're going out with children or if you have teenagers, create a network, whether by phone or other medium, where you can all say, 'I am here', or 'I will be here by three o'clock', or 'Let us meet up by three o'clock'. Meet at a mutual spot where everybody can get back together again so you won't be anxious about your children," she recommended.
Campbell further urged shoppers to secure cash, credit cards, and valuables while out in public.
"Ensure that your credit and debit cards are secure or your cash is secure in your pocket book or wallet. If you are going to the automated teller machine (ATM), go with some company and ensure when you leave the ATM, you aren't going to stand somewhere and do shopping or be digging in your handbag in the public spaces. Ensure that you have secured your cash," she said.
She advised shoppers with vehicles not to walk with all of their purchases at once, but to take items back to the car and lock them in the trunk where they cannot be seen.
"Do not put them on the back seat or on the floor of the car. Lock your things away," she stressed.
When leaving the store or heading to another location, shoppers should call someone to let them know where they will be heading.
For bus commuters, Campbell said that they should let someone know the intended bus route. "Let them know the bus number and the time you expect to arrive at home. Keep somebody informed about your whereabouts," she stressed.
The CAC communications specialist also advised vehicle owners to park in areas that are well lit and with vehicles of similar size and urged women to be particularly careful.
"Do not park next to a truck or van where nobody can see you going in or out because you are providing opportunities for unscrupulous characters to come to your door ... and lock your cars at all times ... we want to help persons to keep safe so that this will be a peaceful Christmas for everybody," she said.