Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw
By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)——————With the Christmas and New Year’s holidays just around the corner, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is offering some safety tips as you prepare to celebrate with your family and friends.
“Travel for Christmas and New Year’s is somewhat different than what you normally see over Thanksgiving,” according to Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office. “Instead of having a couple of days around Thanksgiving where traffic is heavy, you will have more intermittent times when the roads and highways will be busy. Therefore, prepare for times when you will see plenty of vehicles if you travel on the roads or highways.”
“According to AAA, a little over 1.4 South Carolinians will be traveling 50 miles or more during this time period so if that includes you, make sure your vehicle is safe before you travel,” continues P.I.O. Watt. “First, make sure your tires are properly inflated and that all your vehicle fluids are full and do a routine maintenance check on items such as your brakes, hoses, belts and your battery. Secondly, plan out your trip and make sure to know the routes you will be taking and the time you will leaving to travel and how long it will take you to reach your destination and make sure your family and friends are aware of this information. Make sure you cell phones have a full battery as well in case you have to call for help and just in case you have some vehicle problems, carry with you some non-perishable food and water as well as some extra clothes and blankets in case you become stranded.”
P.I.O. Watt also reminds those who are traveling to expect an increased law enforcement presence from now right through January 3rd. If you do plan to consume alcoholic beverages as you celebrate over the next several days, have a designated driver if you plan to travel afterwards and make sure that everyone in your vehicle is wearing their seatbelts.
There is also normally a suspension of non-emergency highway construction work during the holidays on interstates and major highways. However, even with the work suspended, look out for the possibility of lane closures and lane shifts and watch your speed in these areas, says PIO Watt.
Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw is also offering these tips to not only protect your home and property but also for you to stay safe while shopping not only at stores but also online as well:
• If you are going to be gone from home for the next several days, put your lights on an automatic timer.
• Have a neighbor or close friend or family check up on your property and have newspaper and mail delivery stopped.
• Turn on lights and music or the TV in your home to give the appearance that someone is there and make sure all doors and windows are locked.
• Place gifts in places in your home where they cannot be seen from the outside and if possible, be sure to plan to be home for deliveries of items ordered online.
• At malls and shopping centers, park in well-lit areas and be aware of your surroundings. Also, place shopping bags in your trunk and lock your vehicle and close all windows.
• Pay with one credit or debit card for all items if you can and make sure that you take those cards with you when you leave a store. Also, report all missing credit or debit cards and checkbooks immediately to law enforcement so a report can be filed. Call the bank or your financial institutions to cancel those accounts as well.
• Shop with friends, family or with a group. There is always strength in numbers! Also, place wallets inside a coat or in a front pocket of your pants. Carry purses close to your body as well. Also, have your keys in your hands as you prepare to enter your vehicle and check inside of your vehicle as well before you get in.
• If you are shopping with children, make sure to have a plan in case a separation occurs and if it does happen, teach them to avoid strangers but only speak with a store employee, a security guard or a law enforcement officer. Make sure they know certain information, such as their parents name, their address and cell phone numbers if possible.
• Before shopping online, make sure all security updates are completed on your computer and make sure your computer has security software installed that prevents viruses, spam and malware from attacking a computer. Also, do not provide personal or financial information and passwords, unless you initiate the contact.
“Finally, if you are going to be enjoying Christmas and New Year’s at home in Oconee County, please know that our dispatch will be staffed as normal and will be available to handle calls for service and we will have our normal law enforcement operations right through the holidays,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. So, if you have an emergency or need law enforcement to respond to where you are, we are ready to respond.”