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Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Provides Safety and Travel Tips for the 2021 Christmas and New Year’s

(Walhalla, SC)------------------The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are upon us, and with that in mind, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is providing some travel and safety tips for our citizens and those who are planning to travel.

“According to AAA Carolinas and their travel forecast, more than 109 million Americans are planning to travel for Christmas and New Year’s between the dates of December 23rd and January 2nd. ” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “In South Carolina, the travel organization predicts a 35% increase, from last year, in the number of travelers for Christmas and New Year’s.”

“If you plan to stay home for Christmas and New Year’s in Oconee County, be advised that our normal and routine law enforcement operations goon during the holidays,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “Our dispatch will be fully staffed and ready to receive calls for service. Our deputies stand ready to respond to those calls should our citizens need us.”

The Sheriff’s Office is offering these travel safety tips if you are preparing to drive to your destination this holiday season:

· With the Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel period lasting from Thursday, December 23rd thru Monday, January 3rd, motorists will be traveling at various times throughout this period. Expect some heavy traffic from time to time, as you travel, and plan accordingly. Sometimes the best time to travel is on the actual days of the holidays.

· Make sure that the tires on your vehicle are properly inflated and make sure to check your vehicles fluids, brakes, belts, hoses, battery and windshield wiper blades to make sure they are in good working order.

· Map and plan out the route you will be taking and how long it will take you to get to and from your destination. Make sure your friends and family members are aware of this information.

· Make sure your cell phones have a full battery and always have a car charger in your vehicle.

· In case you do have a roadway emergency, have some non-perishable food and water in your vehicle along with some extra clothes and some blankets as well. It is also a good idea to make sure that you have your car jack with all the necessary tools and a properly inflated spare tire in case you have to change a tire when you travel.

· With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, make sure you have masks, hand sanitizer or hand wipes and disinfectant wipes in your vehicle. It is also a good idea to check to see if there are any types of protocols in regards to COVID at the destination you are traveling to so plan accordingly and be prepared.

· Look out for an increased law enforcement presence during this time period. If you plan to drink alcohol to celebrate this year, please select a designated driver or a ride- along service or perhaps stay at your location overnight, if you can. Don’t drink and drive! Also, make sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up and watch your speed. Always pay attention to the road and do not let yourself become distracted by anything when you drive, especially by electronic devices.

· The South Carolina Department of Transportation has announced that lane closures for non-emergency work on interstates in South Carolina are prohibited from 6am, Thursday, December 23rd through 10pm, Monday, January 3rd. Be prepared, however, for the possibility of lane closures and lane shifts and a reduction in the speed limit in those areas.

The Sheriff’s Office 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 during Christmas and New Year’s, put your lights on an automatic timer and make sure you set your home security system before leaving.

· If you are traveling, have a neighbor or close friend or family member check up on your property and have newspaper and mail delivery stopped. Also, do not leave any keys to your residence or buildings on your property outside.

· Turn on 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. You may want to put them in a location where you can lock them up. If possible, be sure to plan to be home for deliveries of items ordered online or have them delivered to your workplace.

· At malls and shopping centers, park in well-lit areas as close to the store you are going into if possible and always be aware of your surroundings. Make sure you lock your vehicle doors and keep all windows rolled up while you are out of your vehicle. Also, place shopping bags in your trunk and not in plain view. If you see something suspicious, notify law enforcement or security as soon as possible. If you see something, say something!

· 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. 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 and 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.

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