By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)——————With the busiest travel day of the year for motorists tomorrow and the busiest shopping day of the year this Friday, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is providing some tips to help keep you safe over the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend.
AAA Carolinas is reporting that 670,000 South Carolinians with be traveling 50 or more miles from home, with many of those traveling by vehicle with Wednesday and Sunday being the days in which the most traffic is anticipated. Saturday will also be extremely busy due to fans traveling to and from Clemson due to the Carolina – Clemson game Saturday.
“Gasoline prices are higher than they were at this time last year, but according to AAA Carolinas, those traveling this Thanksgiving is expected to be 1.9 percent higher than last year,” according to Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office. “There are a few things you can do before you hit the road to help make your vehicle safe. Obviously make sure you vehicle is ready for travel by making sure that your tires are properly inflated and all your vehicle fluids are full. Second, plan out your trip and make sure that you know what route you will be taking and make sure your family and friends are aware of the route you will be traveling. Make sure you cell phones have a full battery as well in case you have to call for help.”
“Once you are on the roads, try to leave as early as you can on Wednesday,” says PIO Watt. “Traffic volume will increase as the day goes along, with the peak travel time between noon and 7pm, especially along the interstates and main highways. Also, anticipate an increased law enforcement presence and with the increased traffic volume, the potential for accidents goes up. Finally, be patient. Many people will be using the same roads you do so be courteous. Then, everyone will be returning home on Sunday so expect some heavy traffic volume then and continue to exercise caution and patience. Of course, as you celebrate with family and friends, don’t drink and drive and if you do, make sure you have a designated driver. Also, make sure all those in your vehicle are wearing their seatbelts, watch your speed and obey all traffic laws.”
In regards to shopping on Black Friday, some retailers will be opening their stores on Thanksgiving Day, not just early Friday morning. There is always the potential for theft and you may want to be prepared for the possibility that stores may have increased security measures in place.
With that in mind, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw offers the following safety tips to increase your safety and decrease your chances of becoming a victim of a crime.
-Don’t buy more than you can carry. Bring along a friend to help, or ask an employee or another shopper for assistance when carrying packages to your car.
-Shop with only one credit card. It simplifies canceling purchases. Credit cards are considered generally safer than debit cards, especially when shopping online.
-Never leave your purse, wallet or phone unattended. Deter pickpockets by holding these items close to your person.
-Have your keys in hand when approaching your car, and remember to check the backseat before getting in.
-Have a plan for meeting at a pre-designated area in case you become separated from your children.
-Put purchases in the trunk if making multiple stops.
-Notify law enforcement or a store employee if you see an unattended bag or package.
-Obey The Laws… Drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs and don’t park in handicap spots. Be mindful of pedestrians, especially children.
In a recent press release on how to protect your residences and property during the holiday season, the Sheriff’s Office offered the following safety tips:
1. Make sure your burglar alarm system is activated before leaving and putting signs and window decals of an alarm system on your windows. Many alarm companies have aps and information on their websites that allow those who are away to monitor their alarm systems while they are away.
2. Make sure your exterior motion lights are working, especially at the corners of a residence. It might be a good idea to install motion lights if you have not already done so. Also, you may want to place timers inside your home to activate lights, television sets and radios at various times during the day. You may want to leave a TV or radio on at all times and put radios on all talk stations. Also, consider installing game cameras on your property or one of the many camera systems that are activated when someone rings your doorbell that sends a message to your phone so you can view who has rang the doorbell, whereupon you can speak with them.
3. Make sure all your doors and windows are locked and having dead bolt locks on all exterior doors is a good idea.
4. Placing beware of dog signs on your property, even if you don’t own a dog.
5. Have someone pick up your mail or newspapers. You may want to a call your postal carrier and have the mail stopped for the time you are away and call your newspaper provider or carrier to stop newspaper delivery while you are away too.
6. Don’t post on social media sites that you are gone and don’t post pictures of your trip on social media sites until after you return home.
7. Don’t record that you are out of town or on vacation on your answering machine.
8. Have a friend, family member, or neighbor check up on your home while you are away, or ask someone to house sit for you while you are away. If you see something that looks suspicious around your neighbor’s home or property, contact law enforcement immediately. Always remember: If you see something, say something!
9. Do not place presents or expensive items, such as jewelry or electronics, in plain sight in your vehicles or in your homes that are visible through windows. Lock presents and expensive items in the trunk of your vehicle when you are traveling or in a room in your house that has a door lock on it.
10. You may also want to consider calling the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency if you live inside the city limits of a municipality to check on the possibility and availability of extra patrols in your neighborhood while you are away. One bit of information you can pass along to law enforcement would be what vehicles should be on your property.
“Also, if you plan to stay at home this weekend or stay within the confines of Oconee County, please know that we will have our normal and routine law enforcement operations going on and we will be monitoring the roads and shopping centers,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “Dispatch will be staffed as normal and will be available to handle calls for service, so if you have an emergency or need law enforcement to respond to where you are, we will be ready to respond.”