The festive season is here and we are all going to find ways to make the best of it, by celebrating with friends and family, be it in towns or in rural areas.
We will travel, eat, drink, go for parties and indulge in all manner of cheer, oblivious of the dangers that we subject ourselves to.
Whether you will be in your city house or in your rural home, we all want to have our lives continue in January, after the festivities are over.
We all want to be well, to have our children go back to school healthy, still have our property intact and just have a normal life.
To help you enjoy the festivities safely, experts have come up with a safety checklist for the season. Below are some of them:
Over the past two weeks, we have lost 210 people to accidents on Kenyan roads, with the Ministry of Transport attributing 90 per cent of the crashes to human errors such as speeding, using faulty vehicles, careless driving, and driving under the influence, among others.
If you want to be early for the party, leave early. It is a holiday, not an emergency.
Have enough sleep so that you will be able to wake up early and be attentive while you drive to your destination.
Be attentive on the road, and bear in mind that there are other road users.
Check your vehicle before starting the journey. Take it for servicing and ensure that the breaks and other parts are working well.
Never drive away without making sure there are no children or pets under it, especially in the rural homes and in parties, where there may be too many children to watch.
This may be cliché but do not drink and drive. The bar ‘proverb’ – “The car knows its way home” – is a stupid one.
You may not live to prove to others that this is false.
If you will use a taxi, ensure that the driver is sober and the child-lock button in the taxi is not activated.
2. Secure your social media
Do not give too much information about your whereabouts on social media.
During one of the security trainings I attended, the trainer insisted that we only post pictures of where we were, not where we are. That is if you must post them.
Giving too much information on social media is making it easier for your enemies to target you.
A security expert and consultant, Simiyu Werunga, once said social media has made work very easy for kidnappers because they easily find out where we work, which days of the week, where we are at a particular time, what we possess, where our children go to school and may others.
Look at it this way, there is a Facebook page where a stranger posts things like: “Let’s show off our short hair, post pictures of our children’s first day at school, let’s floss our living rooms, this is my gate, let’s see yours, let’s confuse them with a word in our language, our outfit for today, let’s show off our cars…”
A cybercrime expert I spoke to says most of the time, cyber criminals target group members using different pseudo accounts.
When you answer and post pictures as answers to these questions, you give information about where you stay, where you are, your kids, where they study, how you look that day, what you have in your homes, your tribe, your car’s number plate and many more, making it easy for someone to target you or your family.
“Kidnappers are attentive and they can easily tell how wealthy you are and target you or your children for ransom,” he said.
When you go away and say where you are on social media, you are simply saying you left your house unguarded.
Your posts on social media cannot be just any other posts when you are targeted.
Be careful about where you eat. You do not want to fall sick at a time when most doctors will be away for Christmas with their families.
Ensure that the food, apart from being fresh, is well cooked and in a clean environment and manner in order to avoid diseases like cholera, dysentery and others.
Do not eat foods with too much salt, sugar or fats.
Doctors always warn that people develop lifestyle diseases after indulging too much during festivities.
Do not ignore basic habits like washing your hands before eating and do not eat too much food. Beware of spiked foods and drinks.
4. Secure your house before travelling
Securex Security Company recommends that you use high security locks for your house.
Ensure that you let that neighbour that you trust know that you have travelled so that he can watch over your house. Keep in constant contact with the watchman.
Always keep the contacts of the local Police Division boss, OCPD, or the Officer in Charge of Station, OCS, in your phone.
It is also recommended to have a couple of police officers in your contact list and on your speed dial.
Make your home appear occupied, by probably leaving the lights to one bedroom on or something else that is safe.
Avoid choking hazards in decorations, which may be dangerous for the children.
Also, if you are lighting Christmas trees, be cognisant of probable electric shocks and burning candles.
Set decorations well to avoid things that may injure the children.
Never leave candles on wooden or flammable surfaces unattended.
The surfaces always catch fire when the wax is completely consumed.
Ensure you find out about the weather in your destination so that you carry suitable clothing and blankets if necessary.
Make sure that you carry your medicine if you are under medication.
7. Be wary of possible terror attacks and organised crimes
If you are travelling to volatile areas, be careful of possible terror attacks.
Over the years, terrorists have been targeting crowded areas and holiday destinations.
Spot suspicious looking characters and report them to the police. Always mark emergency exits in buildings.
Report every unattended luggage and do not try to remove or move it yourself.
If an explosion happens, stay away from the crowd. Do not rush to a crowd to satisfy your curiosity.
In case of an attack by thugs, do not resist to give them what they demand and also cooperate.
Always avoid eye contact with criminals because that way, you become a threat to them.
Never try to fight an armed criminal. If you can flee though, do so.
8. Secure children from drowning
Make sure that children do not swim away from your watch.
If you go to the rural areas where the children will be excited about rivers and wells, be careful with them.
Watch out how you dispose of your gift wrappers so that they do not suffocate children. Some wrappers are made of toxic materials.
Also, be careful where you dump the sachets of silica gel used to absorb moisture and keep things like clothes and shoes dry as this may choke children and conceivably cause problems if eaten in large quantities.
Security experts also warn that disposing your expensive jewellery packs carelessly directs criminals to your house.
You may unconsciously dispose a package that contained a price tag to a gold ring and make yourself a target for mugging and house break-ins.
Even from appearance, some wrapping scream about the worth of a present.
Before you leave, ensure outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, and other living areas are at a fair distance away from the water source.
Check your appliances for faulty switches, plugs and frayed cords before you leave, and ensure that they are switched off. And don’t forget to close all your taps.