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Keyword: safety tips

During the winter months it is common practice by some people to warm up their car by starting it and then leaving it running in the driveway or parked on the street while they go back inside their home. This is also a common practice during the hot summer months to cool the car down before getting in and driving away. Unfortunately, this is also the most common way for an opportunistic criminal to steal a vehicle.

Here are some easy prevention tips to remember that will help you keep your car, your home, and your possessions safe from opportunistic criminals:

  • Keep your vehicle doors locked
  • Never leave anything valuable in plain view
  • Do not leave backpacks, bags, valuables, or bundles of clothing inside a car overnight
  • Never leave the keys to the car inside the vehicle
  • Never store keys to another vehicle or your home inside your car
  • Store vehicle keys on a hook in a cupboard or closet so that they are out of sight
  • Never leave valuables in front of a window (open or closed) where they can be easily seen
  • Close window blinds and drapes at night and when away from your home
  • Keep doors and windows locked, even when home or out in the yard
  • Use security bars in sliding-glass doors and in windows

Make it a habit to look out your windows if you wake up during the night, and even routinely during the day. Report any suspicious activity or people that you see in your neighborhood by calling 9-1-1 immediately.

For more information on things you can do to keep yourself, your home, and your possessions safe, check out these Safety Tips and Guidelines on our blog.

Pokémon Go is a new mobile game that uses augmented reality to place characters in real-world locations; players catch and use the characters in the game. It can be a fun way to explore your neighborhood and become more active, but you should always keep safety in mind as you play.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Using a cell phone while walking can lead to serious injury, whether from bumping into an object or stepping off the sidewalk into the path of a car. You should always put down your cell phone when crossing the street and only cross at designated crosswalks or intersections. The game's creators have guaranteed to players that a creature spotted on the opposite side of a street will remain there until you have safely crossed.

If you're out looking to add to your Pokédex, avoid secluded or unfamiliar areas, especially at night. Stay in well-lit, public areas where there are open businesses or other pedestrian traffic. If you enter an area that makes you feel uncomfortable, you should turn around and return to a more familiar place.

As tempting as it may be to try and corner a Wild Snorlax, it's important to remember that an in-game prize is not worth compromising your actual safety.

Do Not Enter Private Property

All Pokémon within the game can be found without entering private property. While the map may indicate that a character is sitting on a neighbor's porch or in someone's backyard, you will always be able to interact with that character from a distance. The developers of the game made sure to program this feature for the safety of the players and with consideration for privacy.

Additionally, all Pokéstops and Gyms (in-game locations for finding or “training” Pokémon) have been placed by the developers in public areas. You should never enter private property or enter a location after operating hours to attempt to access these game features.

Report Suspicious Activity

If you see a suspicious person, vehicle, or activity, dial 911 immediately and report it to police. For non-emergency concerns you can reach the Baltimore County Police at 410-307-2020.

As we are experiencing the first severe cold snap of the year, we depend on multiple types of heating sources to stay warm inside our homes. “Elements of heating resources continue to be a significant factor in home fires in Maryland,” according to State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.  “Following these guidelines, we can work together to reduce the number of residential fires.”

  • Ensure chimneys are cleaned annually or more frequently if used as the primary heating source. Also have your furnace inspected and serviced annually.
  • Use properly sized fireplace screens or enclosures.  Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire in a fireplace or woodstove.
  • When disposing of cooled ashes, do not use paper, cardboard or plastic containers to remove them; instead use a metal container with a lid.  Ashes will insulate hot embers long after the fire is considered out.
  • Make sure fuel burning stoves are installed according to local fire codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check portable electric heaters for frayed or damaged wires and ensure the appliance is clean and placed on a flat level surface.  Use only “listed” appliances by an approved testing laboratory and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not use extension cords with portable space heaters.  The extension cord can overheat and cause a fire.
  • If you use kerosene fuel fired heaters, use only “K-1” kerosene fuel.  Never fill the unit inside, remove it to the exterior of the structure after it has cooled before refueling.
  • Open a window enough to provide proper ventilation.
  • Keep combustibles (furniture, curtains, clothing, paper goods, etc.), at least three feet from all heat sources.
  • Fuel burning appliances can produce the deadly, tasteless and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide.  Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide levels.
  • Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods.  Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.
  • Place safety barriers around the device to keep children and pets away from the heat source.

Along with these heating tips, check to make sure your smoke alarms and CO detectors are in good working order.  These devices should be replaced every 10 years to ensure they operate as they are designed to do.

Revised June 27, 2017