Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ho ho ho! Top Ten Personal Safety Tips for Christmas


For many people, Christmas Day is the happiest and most festive day of the year. The whole season is one of joy, sharing, compassion and love. Regardless of what religious significance you attach to the holiday season, one cannot help but notice that the general feeling of good will does increase towards the end of December. Maybe it’s because we know we won’t have to go to work! Sadly, for some people, tragedy strikes to sour this most festive of occasions. Here’s how you can avoid it.

10. Try not to get too stressed
Obviously this is easier said than done. However simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and centring can help quash that temper of yours when competing over the last ham at the butcher. Manage your own stress levels and you will also reduce the stress levels of all those you have contact with, dramatically decreasing the chances of a conflict.

9. Be vigilant at supermarkets
While for many of us Christmas is a time of abundance and indulgence, for some it is a time of desperation, shame, guilt and a reminder of poverty. This can sometimes lead to good people taking the easy way out and doing something they would never otherwise do, such as snatching a purse or a wallet. Gents, if you carry your wallet in your back pocket, keep the pocket buttoned. Ladies, DO NOT leave your purse in an open handbag, and DO NOT leave your handbag unattended in your trolley. These simple steps will make you a much more difficult target.

8. Watch the kids
Sadly, Christmas is also a time of increased child abduction. After enduring a week with a house full of bored children, it can seem like a godsend when they want to go out and play on their own for a while. Be sensible though. Ensure they have adult supervision or at least an older sibling (15+ preferably) to watch over them, and never let a child younger than 12 walk somewhere on their own. We don’t need another Daniel Morcombe. Look after your little ones, folks.

7. Drive carefully
Every year in Australia, we lose hundreds of people on our roads. Christmas road tolls are notoriously high due to a combination of liquor, cars filled to full occupancy and general stress levels. This year in the Eastern states of Australia, that will be compounded by heavy rain. Take it easy. You’re on holidays. Slow down! If you have kids, remember what you truly have to lose. They’re sitting in the back seat.

6. Look out for your neighbours
The spirit of Christmas is one of giving and celebrating the fellow good of man. It is a time of togetherness and unity. However, for those with no one, it can be a desperately lonely time. This is especially true for the elderly. If you know you have a neighbour spending Christmas alone, why not invite them over? Or maybe even just a courtesy Merry Christmas door knock in the morning? You’ll be amazed at how a simple friendly gesture can change someone’s entire outlook on life.

5.  Be mindful of home security
As mentioned at number nine, Christmas can be a time of desperation. Stories of Christmas presents and other valuables being stolen in the days leading up to Christmas Day are sadly not uncommon. Lock up, turn your security lights on and pay attention.

4. Keep family squabbles in perspective
While for most of us, Christmas is synonymous with laughter and good cheer, for many others it is synonymous with arguing, bickering, and bloody Aunt Judy having a few too many shandies. More fights break out between family members at Christmas time than any other time of year. Just remember to keep it in perspective. After all, they are family. And if you really don’t like them that much, don’t invite them!

3. Enjoy the time
Relax! Enjoy the break, enjoy a few drinks if that’s what you like, enjoy the looks on the kids’ faces. Don’t think about the bills, about the mess or about Uncle Bob’s stories that you’ve heard a thousand times before. Relax. Soak it up. It only happens once a year. Smile and enjoy yourself.

2. Drink in moderation
Ah yes, alcohol; one of the biggest culprits of them all when we talk about the causes of violence. Having a few beers with a barbeque lunch is a fine tradition. Having a carton and beating up your cousin is not. Worse, driving home after that carton is stupidity, incredibly selfish and places unknown lives at risk. If you’re going to drink, be responsible for your actions. If you’re going to drive, don’t drink. Simple.

1. Be good to each other
The number one thing you can do in general to have a violence-free Christmas is simply to be good to each other. Be tolerant, be kind, be joyous. Help out those in need. Offer an olive branch to settle that family feud (if only for one day.) Offer the best piece of Pavlova to your mother in law… you know you can do it. Be good to each other. What better way to end the year and start the next one?

Merry Christmas to you all and to all a wonderful 2011.

Joe Saunders

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