Holidays are filled with lights and joy and happy times, and criminals just waiting for you to let your guard down.

Let’s remember some simple rules:

If paying in cash make sure you only display the amount needed. A handful of bills is tempting.

Protect your credit cards from online companies. Use a pre-paid card (the $5 is worth the lack of worry).

Always lock your car doors the minute you get into your vehicle. Day or night, a thief can be watching.

Do not open uninvited online “pop ups.” A lot of them are scams pretending to be reputable.

Don’t post online when you are going to be away from home. Post pictures after you get back.

If going out of town, leave lights on and make sure someone keeps an eye on your home and checks on it. A broken rear door or window won’t be visible from the road. Let the police know too and give them an emergency contact number in case you can’t be reached.

Make sure all your firearms are secured and locked up. Record the information by taking a photo of each – the end of most boxes have all the information – and email it to yourself. In an emergency you can pull up the email and supply it to the authorities.

Write down phone numbers. Ever lost your phone and not been able to remember a number?

Photo copy all your IDs and credit cards in case your purse or wallet is stolen. Keep the copy somewhere safe (and not in your purse or wallet).

Let the credit card companies know if you are traveling out of state. If you are visiting Disney in Florida and lots of charges are coming from Las Vegas your bank will be alerted.

Snow and ice make all travel dangerous. Don’t be fooled by thinking a 4x4 is good on ice. Not true. Drive slow, stay off your phone and pay attention.

More and more unnecessary deaths are being attributed to drug overdoses and distracted drivers. Make sure you lock up your medications, especially when having company over. You never know who is struggling with addiction. All it takes is one second for someone to make a terrible choice, don’t make it easier and please stay off your phone when driving. Way too many people are having their lives destroyed by completely avoidable car accidents. Life is already too short.

This holiday season the most important thing to remember is that there are those less fortunate and make sure not to forget them. An invitation to a holiday meal might mean the world to them (and to you too).


Dorothy Royal is the owner of Surf City Guns and Ammo, mother of two wonderful children, ringmaster of a herd of miniature ponies and an avid member of the Surf City Writers Group and Topsail Book Club.