Holiday Home Security and Safety Series: Black Friday Shopping Safety

After the turkey and pies have been eaten, and the football games are over, many americans turn their thoughts to another contact sport known as “Black Friday Shopping”. The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because retailers have traditionally seen it as the day their profitability moves from the red to the black.

CBS has also nicknamed the day “the Super Bowl of shopping,” while Time magazine calls it “a full-contact sport,” and the New York Times refers to it as “a carnival of capitalism.”

Black Friday has also earned the reputation as one of the craziest, most violent shopping days, with reports of people being trampled, attacked, or involved in other insane activities that top the day’s headlines each year.

While these stories make the headlines, undoubtedly most people will return from Black Friday unscathed. But it’s still wise to prepare for the event.

The National Crime Prevention Council and IT World offer these tips:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings when you’re waiting outside a store and once you’re inside. You never know when something might happen. Staying aware could be the key to escaping a dangerous situation.
  2. If you notice a mob forming, or any type of mob behavior, leave. It’s not worth staying and risking the chance of something happening to you, your friends or family.
  3. Stick closely to your friends or family. If something does happen, you’ll have strength in numbers to defend yourself.
  4. When walking back to your car with your merchandise, scan the area around you to ensure no one is following you. Have your keys in hand so you can get inside your vehicle quickly. Then check the back seat and around the car to be sure no one is hiding in or around your vehicle.
  5. Do not purchase more than you’re able to carry. Bring a friend to help you carry your merchandise.
  6. Keep your purse close to your body or keep your wallet in an inside coat pocket to deter pickpockets.
  7. Do not leave merchandise in plain sight inside your vehicle when it’s parked. Instead, lock the goods in the trunk.
  8. Report any unattended bags to store security.
  9. Keep your cell phone on you at all times in case of an emergency.
  10. If you’re shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated. Choose a central location to meet up, and encourage your children to find store/mall security employees if they get lost or need help.
  11. Shop online! It’s safer and you can avoid the crowds and the driving.

Remember a mob mentality causes people to lose their compassion and concern for others’ safety.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

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Holiday Home Security and Safety Series: Turkey Fryer Safety

It’s that time of year again. The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. As we’ve seen in the past few years, turkey fryers have gained in popularity as the way to cook a moist, delicious bird.

While there are a many turkey fryers on the market, most of them use gallons of oil. With the use of oil – particularly large amounts – combined with fire or heat, comes the chance you could start a fire or suffer serious burns.

In fact, turkey fryers are considered dangerous enough that Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the renowned independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization, refuses to certify any turkey fryers with its UL mark.

Even as manufacturers have designed turkey fryers with safety features including sturdier stands and non-heat conducting handles, UL maintains its position that fryers are a fire risk. “We’re worried by the increasing reports of fires related to turkey fryer use. Based on our test findings, the fryers used to produce those great-tasting birds are not worth the risks,” explains John Dregenberg, UL consumer affairs manager.

But regardless, every year 47 million turkeys are prepared for Thanksgiving day, and because of the attraction to the taste, and even the novelty, people will continue to use fryers.

Watch this demonstration from the Underwriters Laboratories to understand the risks associated with turkey fryers:

According to UL, some of the hazards include:

  • Units can easily tip offer, spilling hot oil.
  • If fryers are overfilled with oil, the oil may splash out when the turkey is placed in the pot. The oil can then hit the burner or flames and cause a fire.
  • Placing a partially frozen turkey in the fryer can cause the oil to spill over the pot.
  • Most turkey fryers do not have thermostat controls. Because the heat is unregulated it can overheat and combust.
  • Lids and handles on turkey fryers become dangerously hot and may result in burns.

But if you still intend to use a fryer, regardless of the risks, UL offers some tips:

  • Always place a turkey fryer on a flat surface, outdoors, and away from buildings. Never use them in a garage, on a deck or in any other covered area.
  • Do not overfill the fryer, and make sure turkeys are completely thawed. The National Turkey Federation (NTF) recommendations say to thaw turkeys in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every five pounds.
  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended.
  • When handling lids or touching the side of the pot, use insulated oven mitts. Safety googles are also recommended in case oil splatters.
  • Do not allow children or pets to come near the fryer, even hours after it has been in use as the oil remains hot for a long time.
  • Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher handy. If a fire does occur, don’t hesitate calling the fire department.
  • As an alternative, use one of the newer turkey cooking appliances that does not require oil.

Cook safely this Thanksgiving!

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Holiday Home Security and Safety Series: Thanksgiving Away-From-Home Safety

Crime doesn’t take a break for the holidays.

In fact, statistics show most burglaries are residential (74.5% of all burglaries in 2011, according to the FBI), and incidences of these crimes spike during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The fact that people are away from home, coupled with a struggling economy and the desire for money for holiday shopping, contribute to the increase in property crimes.

That’s why we at American Alarm encourage you to take extra steps to ensure your home is secure during the holiday season, particularly if you’re traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. Read more