The Christmas season got off to a slow start. Businesses complained of relatively low sales, malls were photographed looking deserted, shoppers were reluctant to part with their cash.
“I have no money,” said a shopper last week at Gulf City Mall at Lowlands, Tobago. “I am on a budget, I am a pensioner.” But the payment of Government salaries as well as the fact that last-minuteness is a big part of the Trinidad and Tobago DNA means as we enter the homestretch to Monday’s holiday, shoppers have come out in droves for a final push.
Now is a good time to be mindful of the need for safety not only at public spaces but also in the home. Amid the Christmas revelry all would do well to take heed of guidelines issued this week by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.
While shopping, persons should avoid exposing cash and valuables. Be aware of your surroundings, keep handbags, bags and belongings close, be alert for pick pockets and park in well-lit areas. Avoid carrying too many items, always have your hands free to defend yourself. However, if someone tries to rob you, the TTPS advises: do not try to be a hero. Hand over your cash and belongings.
It’s crucial that safety precautions are also taken at home, especially in light of a series of home invasions in recent months. This means always having your door keys accessible and at hand when returning home, and not leaving doors ajar upon entry. Ensure your home is well lit outside and that you have sturdy locks and padlocks in place.
Trust your instincts. If you notice something strange or suspect you have been robbed call the police. Don’t enter your home as the perpetrator may still be there. If chores are being done to the back of the house, always remember to secure the front and vice versa. Children should be reminded of the importance of not letting strangers know if adults are home or not and of not allowing them entry.
Care should also be taken when out and about at parties and events. Do not drink and drive. Try to attend parties in groups with trusted friends. The Christmas spirit will not shield you from the standard hazards associated with heavy partying.
Finally, it is important to manage stress. The Christmas Blues are very real and can have a devastating effect. It is important to temper expectations and to focus on the bigger picture: life goes on after Christmas. Make sure you appreciate and secure what is valuable to you.