Category Archives: Safety Tips

Our Summer Safety Roundup: Tips for SAFE Fun in the Sun, on the Road, or in the Water

As I write this, the longest day of the year is fast approaching. And longer days mean summertime activities…which means taking into account safety considerations we don’t really think about during the rest of the year.

It turns out we’ve covered dozens of summer safety topics over the years in the blog. To help you find the summer safety tips most relevant to your planned (or unplanned) activities, we provide a roundup of our most popular summer safety tips below:

On the road again
For many families, summer time means travel time, by plane, train, car, boat or on foot. Here are some summer safety tips to keep you and yours safe and sane while traveling:

Family matters
Summer can also mean guests arriving or kids staying home or a general change in the daily routine. Below are some summer safety tips to make sure everyone makes it to the end of summer alive and well!

Making waves…
And summertime means splashing around, in the pool, lake or river. Water is wonderful but be wary because thousands of people drown each year—an average of 10 per day. Check out these safety tips before anyone slips into a swimsuit or boat:

Summer security…
Although you might be planning a summer vacation or getaway, that doesn’t mean the burglars are taking time off. In fact, burglars are more active in the summer. Before you go on that getaway, follow the guidelines in these posts:

The great outdoors…
Finally, what is summer without time outside, either keeping up with yardwork or exploring the great outdoors in nature?

And if you’re not sure your summer will offer as much downtime as you’d like, learn 4 ways a home automation system can help you enjoy summer more!

How to Keep Your Kids, Pets and Property Safe (and Yourself Sane) this Independence Day

Independence Day, better known as the 4thof July, will soon be here. Somehow this day celebrating our nation’s independence has become synonymous with fireworks, the louder and brighter the better. But just as it’s dangerous to become complacent about our republic, so too is it dangerous to get complacent about the dangers of pyrotechnics, a.k.a. fireworks.

To keep you and your family whole on this upcoming boisterous holiday, please consider the advice below:

Skip the fireworks stand
The best way to stay safe on the 4thof July? Leave the shows to the pros. There are simply too many things that can go wrong when setting off fireworks, even the simple ones. (See below about sparklers.) And we’re not talking about minor injuries here. According to the National Safety Council, fireworks in 2017 resulted in:

  • 8 deaths
  • 12,000 injuries
  • 18,500 fires

If those numbers don’t dissuade you and you absolutely must have fireworks rather than go to a show, see these safety tips offered by KidsHealth.org.

Choose an alternative to sparklers
I’m a middle-aged person and I still love sparklers. But they are far more dangerous than most people realize because they can get as hot as 1,800 degrees! That seemingly harmless staple of Independence Day celebrations causes 25% of the fireworks injuries that result in emergency room visits. For children under 5 years old, sparklers were the reason for almost 50% of the injuries.

Sparklers might be hard to avoid, since they are ubiquitous on the 4th, included in the combos so common at the fireworks stands. Be ready with alternatives such as glow sticks or a small American flag to wave. And for the really young who can be stubborn and unreasonable (life with toddlers!), consider a stash of popsicles to offer as alternatives if nothing else will appease.

Watch out for your pets–PLEASE
The best thing you can do for your pets on the 4th? Leave them at home, inside the home. If you’re entertaining at home or risking your own fireworks, keep your pets locked in the house. If you’re heading out to watch fireworks elsewhere, same. Your dog or cat will feel safer if inside, and you’re less likely to have a runaway.

Even if you assume your pets will be fine, keep them inside. The fireworks are far more scary for pets than we humans realize, as evidenced by the record numbers of animals that are turned in to animal shelters on July 5theach year.

At our house, our oldest pet is a cat who showed up at an acquaintance’s on July 5th. She obviously had been panicked by the noise and hung out in his unwelcome yard for a month until I scooped her up and brought her home, all skin and bones by then. (That was 15 years ago, and she has been the queen of our household ever since as 6 pounds of feline terror who lords it over both the dogs and the humans. Maybe it was her tenacity that kept her alive for that month as a stray!)

Realize there’s no such thing as a “safe” firework
Thinking back to my own childhood of decades ago and my fondness for the black snakes of charcoal, I thought I might find a list of “safe” fireworks as I wrote this post. But alas, there doesn’t seem to be any such thing. I guess because you can’t have a firework without fire, even a match or a lighter, everything is risky. So follow the advice above and keep you, your kids, your pets and your property safe and sane this Independence Day—and maybe focus on the reason for the day instead.

Making the Most of Memorial Day? Ready Your Car Before Your Road Trip with These Tips

Although Memorial Day was originally intended to honor fallen soldiers, it has become the unofficial kickoff to summer in the U.S. and tens of millions of Americans hit the road to get away.

If you’ll be one of those millions, make sure your car is ready for the road (and not for a wreck) with this quick checklist of seven tips:

One: Check the traffic report
Knowing millions of other Americans are hitting the road for the three-day weekend, plan accordingly. The Thursday before the weekend is typically congested because people leave work early to extend their time off to four days. And the Friday before brings a mix of travelers and those workers trying to get home to start their time off. If you’re traveling by car, just know you’re not alone and plan accordingly so you don’t spend precious hours stuck in traffic.

Two: Get an oil change
Get an oil change and tell them you’re going on a road trip and want them to check all of the fluids, etc., that should be checked prior to a trip. Although they might suggest maintenance you don’t think you really need yet, carefully consider suggestions they make in case something does require immediate attention before a long drive.

Three: Check your tires
Check all tire pressure, including your spare and the tires on your trailers or anything else you are hauling. Whether you’re pulling a camp trailer or boats or horses, you don’t want a flat tire with your vehicle or your trailer, especially on such a busy travel weekend.

Four: Check all the lights all over
Do a thorough light check, including brake lights, blinkers, reverse lights, and headlights along with the lights inside the vehicle and all your trailer lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs and buy spares to take with you. Also clean your headlights for the best brightness.

Five: Clean your windshield
Clean your windshield, replace old wipers and check the washer fluid. As winter ends, windshields need a good scrubbing and wiper blades need replacing, because you want excellent visibility when you’re driving somewhere new.

Six: Fill the tank and keep an eye on it
It’s easy to say you’ll get gas on the way, but you don’t always know where to find a gas station in unfamiliar territory. So fill up before you go, and try not to let the gas tank get more than half empty during the trip. Trust me on this one. I speak from experience.

Seven: Pack provisions
Lastly, pack an emergency safety kit. Try to include all of the items listed here, but at the bare minimum, make sure your car is stocked with extra food and water, a change of clothes, a stash of cash, phone numbers on paper, and a map.

Enjoy your time away if you’re getting away—but do take a few minutes to remember the men and women who are the reason for the weekend. Because they gave everything.

Photo by Jorge Saavedra on Unsplash

Getting Fit This Spring? 5 Tips to Keep You Safe While Running

The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, and it’s time to get out there and get in shape for summer! If you’re one of the millions of Americans who run, either competitively or for fitness, make sure you’re staying safe while getting fit with these five tips:

1. Run with a buddy
If you can avoid it, try not to run alone, because being alone makes you an easy target. If you don’t have a neighbor or friend to run with, see if you can join a local running group and run with them.

2. Run out in the open
If you are running alone, avoid trail running or any other kind of running that’s not in the open. Running on a busy road sucks, but at least you have a lot of people around who provide a deterrent to anyone with bad intentions! Also, running in a neighborhood or business district means you have homes or businesses to turn to should something bad happen.

3. Run in the daylight
Many people have to run after dark because of their work schedules, but avoid that if you can. The more daylight, the more safety! If you do run after dark, try to partner with a running buddy to prevent being attacked. Also wear reflective clothing and some kind of light or lamp to help cars see you.

4. Run with your ears wide open
Music makes running better! But when your ears are plugged up with your playlist, you can’t hear cars—or a potential attacker. Now, if you’re running with a buddy, you’ll probably be talking and you have the safety of numbers. But if you’re running alone, keep at least one ear bud-free so you can hear what’s going on around you.

5. Run with your eyes wide open
Also pay attention with your eyes. Don’t assume the passing cars see you. Try to make eye contact with drivers if you’re not sure, and still assume the worst. Only cross the street in designated areas. Be careful driving past parked cars when a door might suddenly swing open. Watch the sidewalk for cracks and the height of the curbs to prevent falls. Yes, you want to go into a zone, but you still must stay aware of what’s going on around you and under your feet.

You want to be fit, but you also want to be safe. These five tips should help. Happy running!

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

It’s Mow Time! 10 Tips for Safer Mowing when Grass Is Growing

Is your grass growing? Our grass is growing! I mean, really growing. As in, I swear if I stood still long enough, I’d see it grow!

Welcome to spring, when the earth comes out of its dormant state and everything is green again! At this time of year, I sometimes think mowing should be a daily activity! And since I’m not the only one getting on the riding mower to keep the growing grass in check, it’s a good time to review some mowing safety tips.

To keep you and yours safe during the heavy-duty mowing season, follow these 10 tips:

  • Do a walk through. Yes, you’re anxious to get started, but it’s better to find the dog’s ball, the kids’ jump rope, the hose, the branches, the rocks, the you-name-it before you start mowing. That way, you’re less likely to run over something and either damage the mower or send something flying or both.
  • Wear safe footwear. Do not mow in flip flops or sandals! Even sneakers are risky. Protect your toes with leather shoes or work boots.
  • Wear long pants. Sure, it’s tempting to wear shorts when the sun is shining, but your lawn mower can make a missile out of a stray rock or stick and send that missile hurtling at your bare skin. And honestly, it’s easier to put green-stained jeans into the washer than it is to scrub the green stain off of your skin!
  • Wear long sleeves. See above…
  • Wear protective eyewear. Just as your skin is vulnerable to “attack” from flying objects, so too are your eyes. Even a tiny speck can do damage. Keep your eyes covered.
  • Wear earplugs. No, we’re not suggesting a mower-launched projectile will get into your ears, but the noise can be damaging.
  • Keep the little ones inside while mowing. Kids will be kids. And with the noise of the mower, you won’t hear them coming. So play it safe and keep the kids inside playing while you’re outside mowing.
  • Gas up wisely. Make sure the gas tank is full before you start to decrease the chance that you’ll run dry while mowing. If you do run out of gas, let the mower cool down before you refuel.
  • Stay on the level. I know, I know! That little bit of incline doesn’t seem that steep, right? I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? The riding mower could tip, that’s what! So don’t go there. Use the push mower or weed whacker for any inclines.
  • Just be careful and expect the unexpected. I once bought a used riding mower. It caught on fire while mowing. It turned out a mouse had built a nest in it while it was sitting idle in the previous owner’s garage. You just never know…

But there’s more to lawn care than just mowing, so find other lawn care safety tipshere. And then take some time to enjoy the weather while admiring you’re lovely lawn!

Your Data Is Priceless: Protect Your Privacy

It’s usually good news when a world record is broken, whether it’s during the Olympics or something on a smaller scale like the most pieces of gum chewed at once (in case you’re curious, it was 98 pieces!). Unfortunately, not all world records are cause for celebration.

Email marketing service Verifications.io recently, with an estimated 2 billion records exposed. While no passwords or social security numbers were involved, the platform had collected data including full names, phone numbers, dates of birth, physical addresses, IP addresses, and even estimates of credit scores.

According to Verifications.io, the databases were only exposed for a short window of time, but who knows what data was compromised for sure? And what about the next big data breach? Here’s a refresher on how to protect yourself and your data before the next news breaks of another big breach:

  • Change your password: Although this latest breach didn’t expose any passwords, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Update your passwords every 6 to 12 months, and ensure that they aren’t easily guessed. It might seem more convenient to use the same password for every site, but you risk exposing all of your info if a hacker gets a hold of that one password.
  • Check your credit: Keep an eye on your credit score for any drastic changes or signs someone is using your own information to apply for credit.
  • Watch your bank statements: Not all fraudulent charges will be hundreds or thousands of dollars. An unfamiliar $2.50 purchase on your card could be someone testing your information before making any large purchases.
  • Take proper care of your mail: Although it’s tempting to just toss old junk mail into the recycling bin and not think about it again, you could be putting personal information such as your full name and home address at risk. Shred any paper with your name on it, or use a sharpie to cover any important information.
  • Keep personal information at home: Do not carry your social security card in your wallet! Unless you need to provide proof of your identity at a government office or when starting a new job, keep your card or copy of your card in a safe place at home. The same should be said for post-it notes with your PIN, or any bank information that has your routing and account numbers on them.

One last step to take is to change your privacy settings. You may not even be aware of how much information companies like Google and Facebook are collecting on you. We need to take our privacy into our own hands, because large corporations aren’t going to do it for us. Sure, we take steps to protect our homes and property, but are we doing the same with our data?

Changing Times Call for Changing Habits: 3 Ways to Keep Senior Citizens Secure

Gone are the days of leaving doors unlocked and not having to worry about securing all electronic belongings. Every year cyber predators get more sophisticated, but one rule still holds true: Most criminals like an easy target. Unfortunately, when it comes to cyber safety, senior citizens are that easy target. Handwritten checks, passwords written on a note taped to your computer, and trusting other online users are all red flags to criminals that they have found their mark. Whether you’re of the older generation or you’re worried about the cyber safety of an older parent, here are some tips to stay ahead of the bad guys and feel more safe and secure…

Guard Your Passwords
Creating a secure password is the first step to keeping your information private. A secure password is a unique, long (at least 8 characters), and personal code that you create. By personal, this does not mean your birthday or any other easily guessed and attained information, but rather something you will remember. A password that includes your favorite high school teacher and the year you graduated is a lot harder for a stranger to figure out than your anniversary. Once you’ve created this unique password, do not write it down to store near the device you are securing. This practice might be easy for your own access, but it could also lead to a breach in your security. Nor should you use the same password over and over again at different websites. If it’s compromised once, then it gives a thief access to everything.

Don’t Trust Every Phone Call
Many scam artists have begun to target senior citizens with phone calls pretending to be someone they are not. The IRS will not call and threaten to throw you in jail for delinquent taxes. Microsoft does not call you because there was a security breach. Companies and governments do not have the time to call individuals to resolve the issues over the phone. Mortgage companies and banks do make you confirm your identity before discussing your account, however, you should only trust that these companies if you called them. Do your research on the company calling before giving away personal information.

New Home, New Gadgets
Many senior citizens downsize or move to retirement homes as their children grow up and move out. In a previous home, you may have known your neighbors and felt safe and secure. There are no guarantees that your new neighbors will be as trustworthy. The best way to avoid problems is to equip your home with preventative security. Lights set on a timer are a great example! If certain lights turn on even when you’re not home, then a burglar or nosy neighbor will never be able to learn your schedule. Setting up a new WiFi? Make sure to connect one with a secure network. Most phones and devices will remember the password, so only visiting grandchildren will be inconvenienced. And not allowing strangers to access your WiFi will make everything you do online safer!

Sure, they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but personal security is no trick. Changing our habits comes with the changing times, and online or home privacy is no exception. Even if you yourself aren’t a senior citizen, helping a friend, relative or neighbor ensure their security is a great way to practice the habits for yourself. Here’s to longer, happier, and more secure lives for us all!

The Potential Pitfalls of Mobile Wallets–and How to Avoid Them

Every time I watch someone pay for their coffee with their watch, I stop for a moment to think “Wow, this is really the future!” Even though I use my phone to make payments all the time, like sending money from Paypal or using Uber, mobile wallets are still new to me. From Venmo to Zelle, Apple Pay to Google Wallet, mobile wallets and payment apps are on the rise. While convenient, is this new financial technology harming our money management skills?

A new study suggests that Millennials who use mobile payment transactions are more likely to be at risk for money mismanagement. They are “more likely to hold nearly all forms of debt, including auto loans (34 versus 29%), be charged credit card fees (58 versus 45%), overdraw their checking accounts (33 versus 19%) and turn to pawnshops or payday loans (50 versus 23%).” Fret not, for it is possible to embrace the convenience of mobile wallets without breaking the bank.

Conscientious of Your Cards
If you tend to carry around multiple credit, debit, or even gift cards in your physical wallet, it may be tempting to just add all of them into your mobile wallet. This can be great for getting reward offers for different purchases, but can also be confusing if you’re storing too many. While you may be able to keep track of two or three balances in your accounts, the more cards you add the easier it will be to forget. You also add the risk of using the wrong card for the wrong app. Maybe you link your business card to Uber, but that doesn’t mean you should link it to your personal Venmo as well. Only add necessary cards into your mobile wallet, and be sure to check an app’s settings for adding and removing payment options as needed.

Avoid Carrying a Balance
Cash can be a controversial form of payment. Some people find cash harder to spend than using a card since they have to physically hand it over and watch it leave their wallet. Others see cash as disposable, that it’s too easy to spend since it’s right there in front of you. The same could be said for keeping a balance in a mobile payment app. If you have $20 sitting in Paypal, maybe that Amazon impulse item is easier to buy since the money won’t leave your account. To avoid keeping balances, make sure to transfer your money into a bank account as soon as you receive it. This can also help you keep track of your spending if it’s confined to one place.

Don’t Forget Your Budget
Perhaps most importantly, stick to your budget. No matter how you pay for your transactions, keeping a budget will help you manage your money and actually save what you have extra. Taking a $10 Uber may sound a lot more appealing than taking the bus, but not if you only budget $20 for ride-sharing for the whole month. Consider linking your mobile wallet to a budgeting app, so you can easily learn your spending habits and keep them in line. Mobile payment transactions aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean we have to leave healthy financial habits in the dust behind them.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Spring Break Is in Session! Ensure Safe Travels for Your College Student this Vacation

Believe it or not, spring break season has started. Yes, snow is falling in certain parts of the country, but colleges are already releasing their students for the week-long break. Some students may be headed to warmer weather and vacation destinations, while others are just coming home for a much-needed rest. Whatever the case, before your college-age child wraps up their studies and heads out on a trip, you may want to give them a few travel safety tips to study as well.

Be Prepared
When traveling as a family when I was a kid, I used to ask my mother to make a packing list for me so that I wouldn’t forget anything. Since then, if I do not make a packing list beforehand I will most likely forget one of the most basic items. (I have forgotten to pack socks. Socks.) Tell your child to write down or type up everything they need to remember to bring with them, and then have someone else look over the list for something they might have missed. This is especially important for common-sense items that you may not even think you have to write down, such as phone chargers or passports. Before they head out the door for the week, have your child go item by item through the list to make sure there won’t be any emergency pit-stops on the way home from the airport.

Keep an Eye Out
While keeping track of your belongings while traveling may seem like an unnecessary reminder, college kids can be scatterbrained and may be distracted by something particularly engaging on their phone or in a book. Suggest they hook a backpack or purse strap around one of their legs while sitting and waiting to board a flight or bus. That way, if anyone grabs their bag, they will know, plus they won’t forget it. Keeping a purse strap on their arm, and not leaving their phone sitting on a table can also prevent losing anything they worked so hard to pack up. Another area to keep an eye on is public Wi-Fi. While many airports, bus terminals and train stations provide customers with Wi-Fi, that can make devices vulnerable to hackers. Suggest to your child that they use a VPN whenever possible if they need to connect to free Internet access.

Know and Share the Route
Be it the trip to the airport, the bus connections, or the driving route home, make sure your child knows their travel plans before they actually head out—and that they share those plans with you. Remind them that they can’t always rely on their phone’s GPS! Service gets lost and sometimes a phone gets a location wrong. In addition to your child knowing how they’re getting home, encourage them to tell a friend about their route too, so if anything were to go awry, someone closer to your student may be able to help sooner than you. If possible, ask your child to share their phone’s location with you and a friend so either of you can keep track of their progress during the journey.

Speaking of Phones…
Most importantly, make sure they keep their phone charger on them and keep in contact with you! I once forgot to bring my phone charger with me to the airport, and thankfully had my laptop with me to message with the family member picking me up. Imagine if I hadn’t had any other devices, or if my laptop had also died!? Payphones are not as prevalent as they used to be, and not everyone carries change with them. Your child should, at the very least, let you know when they arrive at a new destination, such as the bus station or a rest stop on their drive.

Here’s hoping their spring break actually looks like spring, and the weather warms up for a well-needed rest from classes and cold. As for you as the parent, brace yourself. It doesn’t matter where the final destination is, college kids are still kids and may need a little extra assistance from you with their travel plans. Once they arrive, be prepared for their ridiculous appetites and sleep schedules, and appreciate that they got wherever they were going safely.

Memorize Your Card Number so Your Favorite Retailer Can’t

I’m working as a receptionist at a salon for extra money, and guests have to use a credit or debit card to book their appointments. Some people don’t want to give that information over the phone and question why I need their card number at all. (The salon has a 24-hour cancellation and no-show fee for 50% of the service charge, that’s why.) When they realize they do have to give me that information, some must rummage around in their purse and wallet to find their card to read off the numbers. But others rattle off their card number without skipping a beat because they memorized all 16 digits. And those people are on to something…

The booking system at the salon deletes card numbers after a few weeks, so the information does not stay in our computers for long. However, many online retailers can store your credit and debit card numbers for years for your convenience—but at what risk and potential cost? Here are 3 reasons why you should choose security over convenience, and what you can do instead.

Credit Card Theft
Saving your card information on sites like Amazon and Target can save you time while checking out, but are those 2 extra minutes really worth risking your card’s security? If your account for any of these online retailers were to get hacked, someone would just need to select your card and they’re good to go. Some sites don’t even require the card’s security code! Taking the time to grab your wallet and pull out your card may even help prevent impulse buys, giving you an extra moment to reconsider that possibly unnecessary purchase.

Rather than saving your card information online, memorize the number, like some of the salon’s customers mentioned above. This still cuts down on time of trying to find your wallet or purse, but it also prevents the information from being stored anywhere other than your own head. If you happen to lose or forget your card and you’re in an emergency situation, you won’t be stuck penniless either. Some retailers will allow you to give the card numbers without the card in a pinch.

Data Breaches
There were over 1200 data breaches and 440 million records exposed in 2018 alone! With the number of data breaches rising year after year, keeping your personal information safe is more imperative than ever. While it may not be practical to create a new account every time you purchase something online, you should use a guest account on any site you don’t regularly use. This allows you to prevent your data from staying in the system, protecting you from breaches.

Little Ones
With smartphones and tablets a part of our daily lives, many children have grown up with easy access to this new technology—and put it to use. In 2017, Amazon had to refund $70 million worth of in-app purchases made by children without their parent’s consent. Apple has also had to refund money to angry parents. Parents do have ways to stop in-app purchases, but why not keep your card information off the child’s device in the first place? If they need to make a purchase, they can come ask a parent to input the card information for them.

I, for one, am not a perfect person. I have subscriptions that charge my card every month (say “Hi” to Ipsy and Netflix), but I have become more aware of just how many online retailers have my information stored without my making a purchase in months. No one is suggesting that you go completely off the grid and delete your information from everywhere, only to prioritize your time and safety. To save yourself the extra stress of a fraudulent charge on your card, just input the information yourself. When making a purchase, spending 2 minutes now may save you from someone else spending your $200 later.

View all of our security plans and features!

Customer Reviews

I feel so much better knowing my family is protected! I spoke with SafeStreets USA in the evening and a technician was able to come install the system for me then for my parents first thing the next morning. Very impressed with his knowledge and care!

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We had our ADT system installed by SafeStreets USA and were really impressed with the service we received from our technician. He was very friendly and answered all of our questions on the system and how it worked. He set everything up in a couple of hours and was a real pleasure to talk with []

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