As we head further into December, the Holidays and potentially bad wintery weather I would like to share some overall safety and winter driving tips that may seem common sense to most but they are a good reminder to us all.
December – the month of shopping, traveling and celebrations! This is also a time when criminals can take advantage of us so it is best to be proactive in preventing any crimes. Here are some helpful tips that are important not only at this time of year but every day:
While at HOME remember these helpful tips:
- Keep your doors and windows locked at all times
- Do not advertise your absence from home: stop your mail/paper, keep holiday gifts out of sight, keep a radio or TV on, put lights on a timer, have your snow removed and have a trusted person check your home
- Prepare an inventory of your property to include serial numbers and 800 numbers to your bank and credit card companies
- Test your smoke detectors; if you have a fresh cut tree be sure that it is well watered and use UL approved lights for decorations
- If you have boxes from TV, stereo or other electronics break them down so as to avoid advertising new acquisitions.
While you are out SHOPPING remember these helpful tips:
- Shop during daylight hours, go with a friend and be alert
- Park as close to a light source as possible and lock your vehicle doors
- Place packages in the trunk
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and limit the number of credit cards or checks you carry as well
- Leave your purse at home and do not carry your wallet in your back pocket. Both of these can be taken easily from you. Cash, credit cards, photo ID and checks should be kept in an inside or front pocket. Keep your receipts with you, rather than in a merchant bag
- Carry only your car key and keep it in a front or inside pocket
- Teach your children how and whom to ask for help
Helpful tips regarding CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS:
- Shield the card from people around you
- Keep the card in your sight at all times
- Destroy carbons of credit card transactions
- Save receipts to compare with your monthly statements
- Do not write your PIN on your card
- Carry only the card(s) you will use that day
- Check the change total before signing it
- Never lend your credit card to anyone
- Unless you initiate a call, do not give your credit card number over the phone
It is equally important that when your vehicle is parked and unattended that you make sure that all windows and doors are closed and locked. If you must leave property in your vehicle keep it well hidden and out of sight of any car thieves. Be alert and aware of your surroundings when approaching your vehicle. Never leave your vehicle running, unlocked and unattended no matter what the circumstances are.
Recently there were many vehicles damaged and items stolen from vehicles at businesses on the West and East side of Madison. Our Department has responded to these incidents by providing additional patrol monitoring to these areas, checking vehicles for security concerns and notifying the owner of the vehicle with helpful security tips and posting notices inside various businesses to alert patrons regarding the recent increase in vehicle damage/stolen items from vehicles. Remember that car thieves can strike anytime, even in daylight and in open public settings.
Being from Wisconsin and living here my whole life I understand that many of us feel we are "experts" in wintery driving conditions. It is important however, no matter how comfortable we are driving in these conditions, that we take our time so that everyone on the roads can get to their destination safely. Also, just because you have 4-wheel drive or AWD does not mean you are superior to the roads and the conditions on the roads. Here are some good winter driving tips as a refresher course for us all:
- Keep your vehicle windows clear
- Keep your speed steady and slow – but not so slow that your car gets stuck in deeper snow
- Use your brakes cautiously. Abrupt braking can cause brake lock-up and cause you to lose steering control
- To make Antilock Brakes work correctly apply constant firm pressure to the pedal. During an emergency stop push the brake pedal all the way to the floor, if necessary, even in wet or icy conditions (but only with Antilock Brakes)
- If you get stuck in the snow straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly. Avoid spinning the tires and use sand under the wheels
There are alternate side parking rules in Madison that are in effect from November 15 through March 15. Here is how this works:
- You must park on the even house numbered side of the street between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. on even numbered days
- You must park on the odd house numbered side of the street between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. on odd numbered days
- These rules are in effect throughout most of Madison seven days a week regardless of weather conditions
- There are two exceptions to this rule: 1) The first is streets where parking is only allowed on one side. If you live on a street that has parking on only one side of the street, 24 hours a day, then the alternate side parking restrictions do not apply to the blocks with restricted parking. This exception only applies to streets with 24 hour no parking restrictions. 2) The other exception is the Downtown-Isthmus Snow Emergency Zone. In this area the alternate side parking rules are in effect only when a snow emergency has been declared
By following a few simple steps regarding our homes, our belongings and ourselves we can protect our possessions and ourselves. By taking a few extra moments on the road during bad wintery weather we can protect ourselves, our family members, our friends and our neighbors near and far. I want to wish you all a very safe, healthy and happy Holiday Season!