Your safety is our number one priority. For this reason, following basic safety tips may reduce the opportunity for crime to occur and reduce the risk of becoming a victim.
Burglaries are not only one of the most common crimes, but they are also one of the most preventable. Burglars will not target a home if they believe someone is there. That is why burglars prey upon residences that look unoccupied.
The trick-or-treaters of today now have the modern challenge of safety to consider. Here are some tips to keep your little villagers safe on Halloween:
- If you are driving Halloween night, be on the lookout for trick-or-treaters. Use extreme caution and drive slowly.
- Consider a Halloween party at home or attend a well-planned, local event instead of trick-or-treating. These are much safer alternatives.
- When planning to go trick-or-treating, think carefully about your route and timetable before departing.
- Try to choose streets that make a collective neighborhood effort for Halloween by lighting and decorating homes in a way that safely welcomes visitors. Do not approach homes that are unlit.
- Be sure an adult accompanies children at all times.
- Carry flashlights with fresh batteries, and never use candles or torches.
- Be certain that all trick-or-treaters can be seen easily. Costumes should be brightly colored or white, and reflective. Reflective tape can also be applied across the back and front of costumes, or you can attach glow-sticks to kids. They actually love glow-sticks nearly as much as candy.
- Avoid using masks that are hard to see or breathe through. Use makeup instead.
- Do not allow children to carry sharp objects. Use props that are pliable and soft to avoid injury.
- Make sure costumes fit well and are not loose enough to be tripped over or snagged on things.
- Stay on sidewalks, if available, or walk on the side of the street that faces oncoming traffic.
Do not allow children to eat any treats until the group has returned home and an adult has examined all of the contents of each bag. Throw away anything that looks spoiled, is not contained in a sealed wrapper, or looks suspicious in any way.
In order to avoid candy overdose, let children pick out enough of their favorites to fill one zip-lock sandwich bag. Then explain that the rest of the treats must be left outside for the ghosts, so they won’t play mean tricks on them!
To be safe for the holidays, remember the Three A’s of Crime Prevention:
Be Aware of Your Surroundings, Be Alert to Suspicious People and Vehicles, Avoid Dangerous Situations. Your goal is to avoid being injured. There is nothing in your purse or wallet worth serious injury or death!
- Is it absolutely necessary to carry a purse at all times? A wallet or credit card in a pocket would be less tempting.
- Carry only the amount of cash or credit cards that you need.
- Zip or close purse securely to avoid pickpocketers. Carry purse or shoulder-bag in front of you and close to your body. Do not carry spare keys in your purse.
- Keep your purse on your lap when dining or at meetings.
- Avoid carrying a lot of packages, it can make you look defenseless. Place all packages and gifts in the locked trunk of your vehicle.
- In the supermarket, do not leave your purse in the shopping cart. REMEMBER: Out-of-sight, out-of-mind, out-of-purse!
- Avoid displaying valuables such as jewelry or large sums of money. Also, dress so you can walk or run easily to avoid an attack.
- Throughout Florida, citizens are facing follow-home strong-arm robberies. As you drive home day or night, look for potential danger before entering your driveway. Walkways, doorways, and driveways should be well-lit around your home.
- Do not enter your driveway if a suspicious vehicle has followed you. Go to the nearest safe location, or an area where there are people and call the police. If you are confronted in your driveway, remain in your locked car with your windows up and blow your horn. The distance from your car to your front door is no man's land.
- If attacked outside, just give up the property and when attacked, if you are going to be knocked down, sit down.
- When using the ATM, make sure that it is not in a secluded location and is well lighted. Also, use the “buddy system”. Go directly to your car and count the cash in your vehicle, not at the ATM.
- At home, do not display all your gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.
- Going on vacation for the Holidays – have a friend or family member check on your home and leave emergency contact information with them.
- Beware of con-games and fraud schemes, only give to charities that you have dealt with before.
- Be aware of where you are and where you are going at all times. Stay away from a potentially dangerous area or situation.
- Trust your instincts. If you suspect something is wrong, or if a situation seems dangerous, you may by right! Don’t dismiss suspicious people, cars, or situations. Report them immediately.
Call 9-1-1 for EMERGENCY and 305-871-3134 for NON EMERGENCY.
General Child Safety for Parents
- Straight talk with children works best when discussing the serious topic of personal safety with your children. Do not rely completely on puppets, coloring books, gimmicks, and cartoon characters.
- Instill in your children a sense of self-worth and dignity at every opportunity.
- Teach your children basic sex education, (i.e., the areas of the body that are covered by a bathing suit are private).
- Establish that inappropriate touches are against the law. This gives your child confidence to assert themselves with those who try to abuse them.
- Allow children to express affection on their terms. Do not instruct them to give kisses or hugs to people they do not know well.
- Stress that there should be no secrets from you, especially those involving another adult.
- Explain the importance of reporting abuse or attempted abuse to or another "Trusted Adult." This would also apply to inappropriate touching.
- Do not rely entirely on "The Buddy System." In many documented cases, sisters, brothers, and playmates have been victims of terrible crimes when together.
- Make it a priority to get to know your children’s friends and their families.
- Encourage involvement in extracurricular activities. Children with many interests are less likely to experiment with drugs or other negative influences.
- Teach your children to respect, admire, and celebrate the differences in people.
- Ask questions about what your children are doing, where they are going, and whom they will be with.
- "Set Times" to be home or check in. Have a back-up plan.
- A child’s room should not be considered their private, personal domain where parents are not allowed to check them.
- Monitor computer and Internet usage, daily, if possible.
- Above all, encourage your children to recognize, trust, and follow their instincts about people and situations. Listen to their instincts.
Good Parenting is asking the hard questions and caring about the answers.
Stranger Safety Tips for Children
What is a stranger?
- Simple, a stranger is someone that you do not know or your parents do not know.
- Strangers are even people you see every day.
Not all strangers are bad, but it is very difficult to tell bad strangers from good strangers
Examples of strangers:
- A person that you never met before.
- A person that you may see often, but know nothing about; e.g., the ice cream person, mail person, newspaper person, or a neighbor.
- A person whose name and address you do not know.
- A person your parents do not know.
- Strangers can come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. Even a teenager could be considered a stranger to you.
- Safety rules for dealing with strangers. If approached by a "stranger" you should:
- Never talk to a stranger.
- Never go near a stranger.
- Never accept gifts or rides from a stranger.
- If a stranger comes toward you, step backwards, turn around and run away.
- Never go anywhere with a stranger.
- Report strangers to your parents, teachers, bus drivers, or a responsible adult that you know well.
- The main rule to remember: "Stay away from strangers."
Examples of stranger scenarios:
- What should you do if a stranger asks you for help or offers you candy, a toy, or a pet? Say "NO", turn around and run away.
- What should you do if a stranger asks you to go for a ride in their car? Say "NO", and run in the opposite direction that the car is going.
- What should you do if a stranger tries to grab you? You can yell for help! You can kick, scratch, or bite! You can run away as fast as you can.
- What should you do if a stranger has a gun and tells you to go with him? Yell for HELP! Run away as fast as you can, and continue yelling for help. Go tell an adult.
- Always remember to tell your parents, a police officer, a teacher, a bus driver, or another adult you trust and know, about what happened as soon as possible.
Being safe at home when you are alone
- Always lock the door. Do not answer the door if someone knocks. Never let strangers into the house.
- If the telephone rings, answer it. Do not tell anyone that you are alone. (You can tell them your parent cannot come to the phone right now). Ask who is calling, and offer to take a message.
- If there is a storm, stay away from the windows.
- Leave medicines and poisons alone, they can really hurt you.
- Do not play or touch any guns that might be in the house.
Other rules for safety
- Never go anywhere without first telling your parents, or the person in charge, where you are going, who is going with you, how you will get there, and when you will be back.
- Always use the "Buddy System" when playing outside or going places.
- Always say "NO" if someone tries to touch you in ways that make you feel frightened, uncomfortable, or confused. Always tell a grown-up that you trust about what happened.
- Always go directly home from school or the bus stop.
Below is a checklist of actions to take to secure your home. Also see our alarm purchasing guidelines for more helpful tips.
You can also click on the link below for a pdf version of the checklist to print out and check off as you complete each item.
Do exterior lights illuminate all entrances to your home?
- Is shrubbery kept trimmed so a burglar can't hide near windows and doors?
- Are garage doors kept closed and locked at all times?
- Are exterior doors made of solid core construction (including door leading from garage to house)?
- Is there a peephole viewer (1800) on the front door?
- Are sliding glass doors secured with auxiliary locks or pinned, and are screws in the track to prevent removal of doors?
- Are exterior doors secured with a deadbolt lock (single or double cylinder) with a minimum 1-inch throw
- Are windows secured with auxiliary keyed locks or pinned with a nail?
- Do you report suspicious persons or activity in the neighborhood to the police immediately?
- Are doors locked at all times?
- Are your valuables marked with your Florida driver's license number and do you have a record of them with complete serial number, make and model?
Check to see who is at the front door before opening it to strangers. Require identification from all repair and delivery personnel. If in doubt, check the authenticity of the identification by calling the company before letting the person into your home. Check I.D. through the peephole viewer. A wide angle viewer is easy to install and inexpensive.
Alarm Purchasing Guidelines
When shopping for a burglary alarm system, use this guideline to check out the System you are considering as well as the dealer.
- Is the company a local business? If so, how long have they been in business in your area?
- Is the company a member of any local business organization?
- Check with the local Consumer Affairs Office or Better Business Bureau to see is there are any problems with this company.
- What is the alarm background of the company's installation personnel?
- Does the company offer 24-hour service in case of false alarms?
- Will the company work with you in getting reduced insurance premiums if you install one of their systems
- Is there a warranty or maintenance contract for the system?
- Is the system electrically or battery operated? If electrically operated, does it switch automatically to battery power without activating the alarm in the event of a power failure?
- If the alarm system is activated, will it automatically shut off after a reasonable alert period (10 - 15 minutes)?
- After the system is activated, will it automatically reset if attacked again?
- If the control switch or box is exposed, will it activate the alert if attacked?
- If it is a hardwire system (wires connecting to sensor to control to alert), are the wire protected from attack and unnecessary wear by the elements?
- It is a local system (audible to the immediate area), does it ring loud enough to attract the attention of your neighbors?
- If the system is for commercial premise, will the company have someone respond to the location in order to assist the police by opening the building?
- Does the system have time delay, if appropriate, to activate and deactivate the alarm system without setting off the alert?
- If the system is monitored by a central station, it is a tape recording or person? (In some municipalities, the call for assistance to the police cannot be made by a taped message.)
- Is the system Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (U.L.) approved?
- Review map(s) and other visitor information before leaving rental car area or elsewhere. If unsure of how to reach a destination, ask for directions prior to leaving your point of departure, be that a hotel, attraction, restaurant, shopping mall or place of business.
- Do not ask for casual street corner directions.
- Do not exit expressways to avoid tolls.
- Tolls do not exceed $1.50 US in South Florida and change is available, if necessary, from a Toll Receipt and Change booth. If you have questions, speak to a toll booth attendant.
- If you are told by a passing motorist that something is wrong with your vehicle -- or if someone bumps you from behind -- do not stop. Drive to the nearest well lighted public area and call for assistance (police emergencies -- dial 911).
- Always keep doors locked and windows up when driving or parked. Keep valuables in the trunk or locked glove compartment. Learn the signals of the emergency vehicles (police lights are blue or red).
- Do not stop for flashing headlights alone.
- In the rare event that you are approached by a stranger who demands your valuables, do not resist. Your well being is more important than your belongings.
- Always use seat belts. It is the law in Florida and may save your life in the event of an accident.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages and drive. Open alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the vehicle.
- Do not give strangers a ride under any circumstances.
- Always be aware of the pedestrian traffic around your vehicle. Always park in well lighted areas. Have car keys in hand and check the surrounding areas and vehicle's interior before entering.
- If car trouble is experienced on a major thoroughfare, lock the doors, turn on flashers and wait the arrival of a law enforcement officer. If someone offers assistance, have them call 911. Never leave your vehicle unattended with the motor running. Do not stop to assist someone with car trouble. Go to the nearest well lighted pay phone and call police (dial 911)
- Consider using traveler's checks. Carry money and identification separately. If money is lost or stolen you will still have your driver's license, passport, etc. Use automatic teller machines located in well lighted areas. Retrieve money and count it later.
- Do not leave bags, briefcases, purses or luggage unattended.
- Do not ever leave children unattended anywhere.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Carry travelers checks in place of cash.
- Keep hotel and balcony room doors locked.
- All members of your party should carry information with the name, address and telephone number of your hotel.
- Carry purses and waist packs across the front of your body. Be sure they are closed securely.
- For all emergencies dial 911 on the telephone.
- For telephone number information dial 411 on the telephone.
Safety Precautions for the use of Automated Teller Machines (ATM)
Remember: There is safety in numbers. Whenever possible, have another person accompany you when transacting business on an automated teller machine.
Observe the Surrounding:
Before approaching any automated teller machine ("ATM") be alert for any suspicious persons or circumstances. Should you observe suspicious persons or circumstances or otherwise feel uneasy or uncomfortable with your surroundings, leave the area immediately—do not use the ATM. Come back at a later or more appropriate time or use an ATM at another location. Report any suspicious persons to law enforcement authorities.
Be Ready to Transact Business:
Before approaching any ATM machine, have your access card and any other paperwork necessary for your particular transaction ready and in your hand. Having to retrieve these items from a purse or wallet is time consuming and allows a potential thief easier access to your valuables. By being ready to transact business before approaching the ATM, your transaction becomes quicker and safer.
Remain Observant While Using the ATM:
While transacting business at the ATM, continue to observe your surroundings. Be careful not to disclose or otherwise reveal your Personal Identification Number ("PIN") to others while using the ATM. Never begin a transaction when strangers have a clear view of the ATM keyboard. Use your body to shield the ATM keyboard as your access the machine. This will allow you to access the machine without disclosing or revealing your PIN. You should check your surroundings every few seconds while actually using the ATM. Should you observe any suspicious persons or circumstances, terminate your transaction immediately, leave the area, and contact law enforcement authorities.
Upon completing your transaction, retrieving your card, and receiving your receipt, immediately leave the ATM area. Do not count or otherwise visually expose any money received from the ATM. Continue to observe your surroundings for any suspicious persons or circumstances, such as anyone following or approaching you. Always maintain a safe distance between you and any stranger. If you believe that you are being followed, you should go to the nearest place where there are people and contact law enforcement
- Do not workout alone.
- Advise someone of your workout times and route taken and check in with them when finished.
- Do not workout in deserted or dark areas.
- Have several different routes and rotate them.
- Check your workout route before you start.
- Get to know the neighborhood of your workout routes.
- Avoid bushes, doorways, and alleys during your workout.
- Plan safe locations on your route, well-populated areas where you can go to for help.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewelry.
- Do carry personal identification, with an emergency contact phone number.
- Carry a whistle or some type of noise-making device.
- Stay alert and scan the area in front of you and avoid person(s) or situations that make you feel uneasy.
- Every now and then during your workout check the area behind you.
- Be careful when people stop you for directions, always reply from a distance, and never get too close to a vehicle.
- If you think someone is following, change directions or go to your safe location.
- Carry a cellular phone when possible.
- Report suspicious persons or incidents to the police as soon as possible.
- Know the phone numbers to police and have them available.