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Holiday Safety Tips for Your Children

Holiday Safety Tips for Your Children 5.00/5 1 vote

It’s important to remember that children under 10 are still at risk for potential holiday hazards. Parents must be very careful when purchasing holiday items and toys that they are safe items to have at home. Please read each label and check consumer reports or websites such as the American Academy of Pediatrics when considering holiday safety tips.

xmas treeIf you are celebrating Christmas, and want to purchase a tree which is artificial, make sure it is labeled “fire resistant.” A real Christmas tree must be fresh, but the needles may break and can be hazardous to a young child placing things in their mouth. Keep your tree away from radiators, portable heaters, or fireplaces and out of the way of any type of doorways or anywhere with high family traffic. Wrapping paper burns quickly and violently in a fireplace so be sure you remember to throw it away immediately. You may also want to block off the tree if you have young children so it may not fall on top of them or they don’t break anything or put dangerous things in their mouth.

If you are choosing to use tree lights, make sure all the bulbs work, no frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets. Turn off all lights when going to bed or leaving your house so it could not start a fire. With a metallic tree, never use electric lights on it because a person could be electrocuted. Keep small batteries and magnets away from young children. Button batteries are also found in many toys, cards, hearing aids and electronics, and a young child can swallow them easily.

Dispose of Wrapping Paper and Ribbons accordinglyYoung children under 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before you give them to your child. Toys that have strings that are longer than 12 inches can strangle a baby or preschool aged child. Keep older children’s toys, such as electronics, games, and other products with small parts, separate from younger children’s toys.

If you are travelling, just remember this can be stressful for both you or your young children. Try as much as possible, whether staying at a hotel or family members home, to set up a usual routine, a sleeping routine, an eating routine, napping, so that it can reduce stress within the family and among relatives or friends. Try not to overdo too many visitations, shopping, museums, and parks in one day. Spread it out.

During a holiday visitation with other friends or relatives, make sure you assign an adult or older teen to watch a baby or toddler at all times. Do not leave leftover food such as alcohol, nuts, grapes, hotdogs, peanut butter, tobacco or any choking hazards around on tables where they can reach or ingest them. You must childproof the home ahead of time.

Women’s purses, cleaning products, stairways, hot radiators, unlocked cabinets are hazards to young children during parties. Make sure you have numbers in case of emergency of police, fire departments, doctors, hospitals, or poison controls and your insurance card if an accident were to happen.

Ornament Hanging from Decorated Christmas TreeMake sure that young children do not have access to light strands, tinsel, or other ornaments that may contain lead or other poisonous materials. If you have a pool, make sure the gate is locked so the child has no access to getting inside a pool area or an aquarium. Do not leave doors unlocked where young children can open them or runaway.




We hope these suggestions will guide you and prevent any accidents to your family members. Have a safe and wonderful holiday season filled with joy, love, peace, and friendship.

Personal Safety Tips from a SmartFem Expert

Personal Safety Tips from a SmartFem Expert 5.00/5 1 vote

Spring Training is Here!

Staying safe in public is vital…Especially during the Spring, when the weather is nice and families are out having fun in large crowds and populated venues.

It’s that time of year again in Arizona – Cactus League Spring Training! While it’s great fun to take in a game with friends and family, it’s also a time to be aware of your personal safety when you’re in public.

Here are a few tips to help keep you and your family safe while enjoying the games.


Driving to and from the gameCar Safety Tips

• Keep your car in good running order

• Plan your route in advance

• Drive with the doors locked and windows rolled up

• Carpooling is a safe alternative to driving alone

• Don’t stop if another driver tries to force you off the road


• Choose well-lit parking areas

• If you have to bring valuables, keep them locked in the trunk

• Always remove the keys and lock the doors

• Be alert in underground or enclosed parking garages


• Avoid walking alone. Be confident & walk with purpose

• Choose busy, well-lit walkways and pedestrian flow to and from the parking lots

• Walk facing traffic to see approaching cars

Keep Your Keys Handy

• Earphones make you less able to sense potential danger

• Keep valuables in an inside pocket and, if you have to bring your purse, hold it under your arm so it is harder to snatch

Returning To Your Car:

•Have your keys ready before getting to your car

• Be aware of occupied cars around you

• If you carry packages, keep one hand free

• Check inside and around your car before unlocking the door


Automated Teller Machines (ATM’s)

• Memorize your PIN number

• Have everything ready before arriving

• Be aware of people loitering and sitting in parked cars who may be watching customers transact business

• Never use an ATM after dark

Public Transportation

• Locate well-lit and frequently used bus stops

• Check schedules in advance

• Do not wait alone

• Sit near the driver on busses

• Immediately report incidents of verbal or physical harassment to the driver

Finding the Right Words

It is frightening and sad to watch the news and hear horrific stories about children and teachers being killed in our schools. Who could do such a terrible thing to our precious children and teachers?

We all want to understand and know why this happens. As parents, educators, counselors and members of the community, we are left with uncertainties as to how we speak to our children about these shootings and feeling safe in an unsafe world.

Coming from the perspective of a Child Development Specialist, it is a good idea when you are talking to your child to make sure you use age-appropriate words. Words like “violence,” “mental illness,” “gun regulations,” and other expressions may need to be used in a more basic way. An example would be: “People who are bullies may want to get back at other people because they were bullied themselves or mean to them.”

Here are some tips and suggestions for talking to children about school shooting;

  • Some children may be hesitant or not able to initiate this type of conversation. As a parent you may want to ask your child if they feel safe at school, home, or in public places.
  • If they have difficulty expressing themselves then have the child draw a picture, paint, or role-play their feelings. This could be an easier way for some children to express their emotions.
  • If your child asks you why someone wanted to kill so many children, it is alright to admit that you don’t really know. It is important to tell them that this does not happen very often. Express your feelings about sadness or fear for the families and discussing what you can do to help.
  • Never negate or minimize your child’s feelings, so validate them instead. Use phrases like, “This must make you feel sad,” and “Let’s talk about your feelings.”
  • Some children will not want to go to school. Talk about the school’s safety plans and procedures. Discuss fire drills, lining up to go outside, hiding under desks, etc.
  • Also make sure you review your own safety plans for an emergency at home and how to get out. Review Stranger Danger situations, such as not letting any one in at home, who to call, emergency numbers and so on.

There are behavioral signs to recognize in young children when they experience a violent situation. Some children start wetting the bed, crying more often, thumb sucking and having problems sleeping alone.

Teens may also exhibit fears or behaviors after an frightening situation such as not wanting to return to school, grades dropping, withdrawing from the family, fearful dreams, using drugs and alcohol or becoming more argumentative.

You may need to take your child to a professional to receive help.

Empower your child with problem solving strategies such as if you hear or see bullying at your school or cyber bullying then report it to a counselor, teacher, principal, or parent to address the issue immediately. If you hear about an eating disorder, contact a nurse or counselor. If your child has a friend wanting to commit suicide then tell an adult close to them or a professional to get help.

Maintain an ongoing dialogue with your kids… Not just when it has to do with a crisis.

Safety Tips for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us! This means different things to people. For some, it is time spent with family, a holiday vacation, and even presents. To criminals, the holiday season means empty homes with vulnerable valuables; valuables that can become gifts for their families and not yours.Safety Tips for the Holidays

Xpress Protection Security would like to remind everyone to be watchful and keep your guard up to protect yourself and your home from burglars this holiday season. We want you to take all necessary precautions to safeguard your houses and businesses. Here are steps you can take to preserve safety:

  • Trim any bushes or trees that may provide hiding places for criminals. Check all of the entry points into your home (windows and doors) and make sure they are locked and secure. Sliding glass doors are the easiest points of entry. Install a pin or locking mechanism that prevents the door from being lifted up and out of it tracks, as well as stops it from being opened.
  • If your home or business has an alarm system, make sure that you and your family use it, even when you’re home. Alarm systems and visible advertisements (stickers & lawn signs) are some of the best deterrents against home intruders.
  • When you leave your home, even to run short errands,make your home look occupied. Putting some of your interior and exterior lights on timers, leaving the TV on or playing the radio are a couple quick ways to prevent burglaries.
  • Consider putting up exterior holiday lights. The lights not only will make your house look beautiful, they will also light up your home and yard, making it more difficult for burglars to lurk in darkness around your home.
  • Keep the receipts for all your major purchases in a safe place. Take time to record the serial numbers of the property on the Safety Tips for the Holidayscorresponding receipt or on another list. If these items do get stolen, these records will show proof of purchase and greatly help the police in identifying any of the stolen items.
  • You should always be very cautious about solicitors, but especially during the holidays. If you have side windows by your entry door, cover them to make scoping out the inside of your home difficult. Also, do not open the door. Talk to them through a locked and secure door. If you did not invite them to your home, they should not be allowed inside.
  • If you shop online and will be having merchandise delivered to your home, schedule the deliveries on a day and time when you Safety Tips for the Holidayswill be home and will accept the package. Packages left on doorsteps are susceptible to thieves passing through the neighborhood.
  • Many of us will have a brightly lit Christmas tree with presents around it. If the tree and presents are visible through a window or doorway, you could be tempting a burglar scouting the neighborhood. Consider hiding the presents in a bedroom or garage and place them under the tree at the last minute.
  • Do not advertise your new high-dollar purchases after the holidays. You should break down boxes of TVs, stereos, computers, etc. so they will fit inside of your trash or recycling bin. If you are not going to keep the boxes for possible returns, try to stagger the time you throw these boxes out.
  • Safety Tips for the HolidaysWe always encourage you to NOT advertise any upcoming trips or vacations on social networking sites. Letting people know that your home is unoccupied and vulnerable is an invitation to criminals. Make sure your children and grandchildren are following the same precautions and that they are careful about discussing travel plans with friends.
  • If you are traveling for the holidays, ask a trusted neighbor to watch over your home while you are gone. Either have all mail and newspapers collected each day or have your services suspended. Give a key to the person watching the house so they can make your house look occupied, either by turning on lights, turning on the radio, or moving a car in the driveway.
  • Notify your local police department that you will be away and provide the contact information for the neighbor who will be watching your home. If you have a monitored security system, also notify them of your absence and the name of the person watching your home.
  • If you are traveling but leaving your four legged children at home, consider having that trusted neighbor, a family member, or friend pet sit at your home instead of using a kennel. Dogs of all sizes and barks are a deterrent to burglars.


If You Won’t Do It For Yourself….Do It For Your Children!

It is apparent that many adults are simply complacent about protecting their identity.  Despite all the evidence of people who have their lives ruined by a single instance of  identity theft, the general feeling remains “It’ll never happen to me!”

Well, it is time to consider one of the fastest growing targets of identity thieves….YOUR CHILDREN!

Consider the true story of Olivia McNamara who wanted to obtain her first credit card after graduating from high school.  She simply wanted to establish a credit history, only to find out that identity thieves had beat her to it.  The banks were not cooperating and neither were the credit bureaus.  After securing the services of an identity theft company they finally found the source of the problem.  Olivia’s social security number had been stolen 10 years prior and other people had used it to secure loans in the millions.  Her credit was destroyed by a series of defaults on loans taken in her own name.
Over the past several years there have been hundreds of thousands of kids’ social security number stolen and used for all kinds of illegal purposes.  They often don’t find out until they finally ask for credit of their own.

There is nothing identity thieves won’t do to access your child’s information.  A horrible case was uncovered last May in Florida when the parents of an (8) eight year old girl were told that her social security number had been used…. After her recent death from cancer.  Thwarting their ability to collect a tax return properly.

Take action NOW.  Protect your children and their identity!!!

SmartFem offers families the most comprehensive, cost effective protection with the nation’s best identity theft offering.

Online Safety: Protect Yourself and Your Kids on Social Media Sites

I was at a networking event last week where there were two single adults talking about their online dating experiences. Hearing their conversation reminded me of the dangers adults and kids face when online.

Social Media Facts:

Everyone is being told that social media ‘is a must’. As business owners, we’re constantly being told we need a social media presence to engage our customers and find new customers.  Our children are feeling peer pressure to use social networking as well.  Connecting with ‘friends’, creating and sharing photos and videos and playing games on these sites have all become important aspects of kids’ lives.

What most people don’t fully understand is that everything they say about themselves in their profile, pictures or words will be available for the world to see; and people do see these pages – strangers, college admissions officers, potential employers…  Kids are savvy enough to post things, but not always mature enough to understand the consequences of doing so.

Unfortunately, there are cases where child predators have hacked into profiles, pretended to be a child’s friend and invited them to meet, along with other friends, behind the mall. This exact scenario happened to a child of a law enforcement officer in Arizona!  People in child trafficking and the sex slave trade set up profiles, posing as young kids. They surf social media sites and pray on innocent, unsuspecting kids; don’t let your child get caught in this!

Here are a few Social Networking Safety Tips for you to discuss with your kids and implement; they’re not just for kids though!

✓  Facebook and other sites won’t let kids create a profile/page if they are younger than 13. 

That being said, kids aren’t stupid, they simply do the math to figure out what year to put so they’ll seem 13 – or older.  Check your computer browser histories! If you see a social networking site, then assume your kids have an account.

✓  Check your kid’s profile.

It is best if they use a ‘stage name’ or nickname, anything other than their real name. Be sure they do not include their phone numbers and an avatar or image is better than their personal photo!

✓  Remind them of the golden rule.

If your children wouldn’t want someone saying it to them, they shouldn’t say it to anyone else. Help eliminate cyber-bullying which is increasingly popular with the youth of our nation!

✓  Tell your kids to think before they post.

Remind them everything they post can be seen by an immense, invisible audience (friends of friends of friends).  Encourage them NOT to use any of the ‘places’ or ‘check in’ applications. These applications post on their ‘wall’ and tell everyone where they are; don’t tip off child predators as to their whereabouts. And, don’t think it can’t happen to your kids!

✓  If they want to meet someone, it had better be in a public place, with you, or at least a friend. 

We would all like to think that our kids wouldn’t meet strangers – but sometimes they do. If your kids want to meet an online friend, let them know that you want to meet that friend, too.

Click here for more online safety tips to help protect yourself and your kids when using social media!

Protect Your Pet from a Fire

Protect Your Pet from a Fire 1.00/5 1 vote

My wife Colleen and I have two toy Pomeranian’s – Boo and Kadee. Boo was saved by one of our sons, and Kadee we ‘inherited’ when another one of our sons was traveling and playing football in Europe.

Like most pet owners, we treat Boo and Kadee as if they are our children. So, their safety and well-being is a concern whenever we are not at home with them. In fact, Colleen doesn’t want to go on vacations or travel unless we can take ‘the children’ with us.

The main cause of concern we have for their safety is fire. Every year 40,000 pets are killed in house fires! Here are a few simple things you can do to protect your pets in the event of fire at your home when you aren’t there:

•  Display pet alert decals prominently in your front and back windows to alert first responders that you have pets inside. You can get pet alert decals at your pet store, fire department, from your security alarm company, or you can buy them online.

•  Keeping your yard clean and hedges trimmed will help minimize the possibility of a brush fire near your home.

•  Have your heating and AC system inspected every spring and fall. Gas appliances and equipment can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is known as ‘the silent killer ‘ because it is tasteless and odorless. Carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for more than 400 human deaths and 20,000 trips to the emergency room each year.

•  Invest in a monitored home security alarm system that will alert you via text or email of a fire or carbon monoxide detection, while simultaneously dispatching the fire department.

•  Be sure at least one trusted neighbor has a key to your home. If there is an emergency, they may be able open a door to let firemen in—or your pet out.

Following these simple pet safety tips will give you peace of mind that your pets are safe at home, and that you have security measures in place if there is a fire or emergency at you home while you are gone, you know your pet will be protected.

Home Burglary Prevention Tips

Home Burglary Prevention Tips 5.00/5 1 vote

Protecting our home, family and property is our responsibility. As responsible adults, we need to be aware of what is happening in and around our neighborhood. The idea that ‘I live in a safe neighborhood’ is ignoring the reality of our society. Even homes in guard-gated communities are targets of crime.

According to the FBI:

•  Homes without alarm systems are 2.7 times more likely to be burglarized
•  A burglary occurs every 12 seconds
•  The average loss is $1,675.00
•  1 in 6 homes will be burglarized
•  Criminals take less than 1 minute to enter our home
•  60% of burglaries occur during daytime hours

Criminals look for the fast and easy targets – homes that are easily accessed from the back, on ‘quiet streets’ and where they have minimal chances of being seen or interrupted.

So, what can we do to minimize our chances of being a victim of a burglary? A lot! Here are a few suggestions everyone can implement to protect your home and property.

•  All exterior doors should be solid-core wood, steel or fiberglass with the hinges on the inside of the door.

•  Keep all doors and windows locked. Exterior doors should have deadbolt locks with keys on both sides – not a thumb turn on the inside. Be sure the deadbolt has at least a 1” throw and that the strike plates are reinforced and secured with 3” screws.

•  Sliding doors are the easiest access point in to our home. Install vertical bolts to prevent them from being lifted off the track.

•  When you are away from home, for any reason, create the illusion that someone is home – use multiple programmable timers on multiple lights, radio and TV’s.

•  NEVER leave clues that you are away from home:

•  Have your mail and paper stopped or picked up by a friend or neighbor each day

•  Have your lawn cared for on the same day you normally have it done

•  Let the police know you’ll be away and for how long

•  Never leave a message or voicemail announcing you are away

•  Don’t hide a key – criminals will find them, no matter how clever we think we are

•  Keep your valuables in a safety deposit box

•  Install low voltage exterior lights to minimize hiding places for criminals

•  Be very careful and aware of what you are posting on social media sites!

•  DO NOT provide detailed personal information in your profile

•  DO NOT post detailed information or pictures of your children – pedophiles use these sites too

•  DO NOT post vacation, dinner or party plans until AFTER you are back home

•  Employers, potential employers and the police use social media sites to learn about us, so do criminals!

•  Install and use a home security system

The key to being safe is being aware of what is happening in your neighborhood. If you see suspicious activity or vehicles driving slowly, report this information to the police. Let your neighbors know what you’ve seen also. Consider starting a Neighborhood Watch Program.

Women’s Safety – Reducing the risk of Home Invasion

Home invasion is one of the most frightening and potentially deadly crimes that can happen to a woman or any individual or family.  Home invasion is the forced entry into an occupied residence to commit robbery or other crimes.  It is especially frightening because it violates our home and our personal space.  In addition, if someone survives such a catastrophic crisis, they often experience stress reactions for years.  Unfortunately, many home invasions may end in assault, rape and murder.

In contrast to burglaries, home invasion occurs more often at night or weekends when we are more likely to be home.  Home invasion targets the resident, as well as the dwelling.  Targets of home invasion robberies can include a woman living alone, a wealthy senior citizen or anyone else simply because of the value of the car they drive or the jewelry they are wearing.  Robbers rarely work alone and rely on surprise and overwhelming physical force to gain control and instill fear.  The greatest violence usually occurs in the first minute of the assault, and they come equipped with handcuffs, rope, duct tape, knives and firepower.

Home invaders know that most people, even if they have a security system, do not arm them while they are home and most homeowners do not have video cameras, silent alarms or panic buttons.  So, unlike robbing a business, home invaders expect privacy once inside our home and know they won’t have to deal with the police suddenly driving up or customers walking in.

The most common point of attack is through the front door or garage.  Occasionally they will simply kick open the door and confront everyone inside.  More commonly though, the home invader knocks on the door first or rings the doorbell.  They know that many of us will simply open the door, without question, in response to their knock.

Home invaders will sometimes use tricks to get us to open the door. They pretend to be a delivering person or tell us they accidently hit our car.  Some home invaders may have been in our home before, such as a delivery person, installation technician or service person.  Others use children, pretending to be selling something for school to get us to open the door.  Once the door is opened, they will use an explosive amount of force and threats to gain control and instill fear in the occupants.  Once things are under control, the robbers will begin to collect our valuables.

Some home robbers spend hours searching and destroying a residence while the homeowners are bound nearby, watching in shear terror.  Some robbers have eaten meals, watched TV, and even take a nap.  The major fear, especially with women, is that the robbers will commit even more violence, like sexual assault, rape or murder.  Some victims have been kidnapped, forced to withdraw cash from their ATM machine or taken to their business to rob it as well.

The same precautions used to prevent daytime burglaries go a long way to preventing home invasions.  If a home invader can be slowed at the point of entry, we have a chance of deterring them from entering or having enough time to call the police.  All exterior entry points should have solid core doors with strong deadbolt locks and have reinforced strike plates.  Windows should be closed and locked also.

The weakest links in home security are the people who fail to lock doors and windows, open the door without question and who do not use their alarm system.  The best prevention is knowledge and planning.  Have a security system installed, have a plan if the unthinkable happens, get your family together and discuss the importance of security and how to answer the door when someone knocks, especially with young children.   While a woman living alone is especially vulnerable to this serious safety threat, everyone should take care to protect themselves.

Author David Murphy is the CEO of Xpress Protection Security Solutions, Inc.  As SmartFem’s featured expert on home security he is eager to educate readers and help them stay safe.

Ahh Summertime! Car tips for the Woman on the Go!

Ahh Summertime! Car tips for the Woman on the Go! 1.00/5 1 vote

Ahh Summertime!  Pool parties, backyard barbeques, family road trips, and the all too common shredded tires. 

Driving around the valley we see bits of tires all over the roads.  Keep yourself and your family from experiencing this frustration by following these simple Tech Tips to prolong the life of your car’s tires, improve safety and increase fuel economy.

Tech Tips from Lindsay Hauptman of Larry H. Miller Toyota of Peoria

Did you know the outside air temperature can affect the pressure in your tires?

When it’s hot the air expands and when it cools off the air contracts.  Believe it or not, this simple fact can wreak havoc on tires because over inflation or under inflation causes uneven wear and in extreme cases the tires may rupture because of excessive heat.  The good news is the fix is simple:  Check and adjust your tire pressure monthly.  And for anyone who does not want to do the dirty work themselves, we will gladly check and set your tire pressures for free on our service drive!  Oh, and another bonus…  Having proper tire pressure will help improve your fuel economy!   Another very important tip, especially for people going on a road trip, is to check your tire pressures every time you stop for gas because pressures can change one pound for every ten degree in temperature variation.  It is proven that lower tire pressure causes more damaging heat.  Using infrared photography you can see how the tire with lower PSI has more heat at high speeds than the properly inflated tire.

Did you know that the front tires will wear faster than the rear tires?  Think about it, every time you round a corner only the front two tires are turning. This is why rotating tires every 5 months or 5,000 miles is so important.

Did you know your vehicle can go out of alignment just sitting in the driveway?  It’s true.  When the vehicle sits, especially for a long period of time, the suspension components settle.  Most vehicles today have a supple suspension designed to absorb the road vibration and roughness.  It is literally designed to flex and adjust to give you the best possible driving experience.  What you may think is a small bump can have a huge impact on the suspension components.  And when the suspension is out of alignment this causes the tires to experience more friction, ultimately leading to irregular tread wear.  Having an alignment yearly is the best way to maintain proper rolling resistance to prolong the tire life as well as maintain the best MPG ratings.

Did you know a tire balance with rotation is helpful?  Have you ever rotated your tires then experienced a vibration in the steering wheel?  This is very common.  I use the analogy of a ceiling fan that is off balance…  It wobbles and makes a racket.  Tires are the same.  If they are ‘out of round’ the driver will experience a vibration in the steering wheel.  The fact that the front and rear tires wear differently is what causes this vibration because the changes in tread cause the tire to spin asymmetrically.  Balancing your tires every time they are rotated will prevent this and prolong your tire life.

This may sound like a lot of extra work, but in the end it is far better than being stranded or in an accident because of a situation that can be prevented.  Please, feel free to stop in and see us for a hassle free tire check up.