• Make sure your tree is fresh when you buy it. The needles should not fall off easily or be brown. Consider buyi8ng a live tree that can be planted after the holidays.

• Stand the tree in a container of water. Check the water daily and refill as needed.

• Place tree away from sources of heat such as fireplaces, heaters, radiators, and television sets. Also be sure the tree is not in the path of home traffic or blocking a doorway.

• Make sure the tree stand is sturdy enough to support the base of the tree as well as large enough to prevent the tree from toppling.

• If you buy artificial tree, make sure it has been tested for flammability. Also, all of your garlands and ornaments should be fire resistant.

• Do not place lighted candles on or near a tree.

• The tree is too dry when it begins to lose a large amount of needles and should be discarded.

• Burning evergreens in a fireplace is dangerous; flames can send sparks flying into the room. See if your town has a recycling project, give it to your garbage collector, or throw it in a pond. Trees make good nesting places for fish.


Malls seem to be packed year-round, but closer to the holiday shopping season, the rush gets worse. Have a safe holiday shopping spree with these tips:

• Park in a well-lighted location as close to your destination as possible. Let someone know your plans and estimated arrival time.

• Keep purses shut and close to your body and wallets in breast pockets. Waist packs keep money in front of you while leaving your arms free.

• Don't flash large sums of money.

• Keep track of credit cards; tear up carbons from credit card purchases and save receipts. Keep a list of credit card numbers in a safe place.

• If leaving a building and someone suspicious approaches, return to the building and contact security.

• Have car keys in hand before going to your car; have house keys in hand before getting out of the car at home. Consider having a whistle or mace on your key chain.

• When returning to your car, be aware of what's going on. Check door handles and locks and look in the back seat before getting in.

• If someone asks for assistance, don't get out of your car. Go to the nearest police station go get help. If someone approaches your car, lock all doors, turn on the headlights and sound the horn.

• If someone demands your keys, give then up and anything else that is demanded. If house keys are taken, change locks immediately.

• If upon entering a parking lot you see someone you think might be a threat, get back in your car, lock the doors and drive away.


The holiday season bring joy to most families, but every year the spirits of some are

dampened when a burglar strikes the home. Creating a "lived-in look" is the best way to deter burglars from an empty home.

If you leave your house looking as if someone is home, you have taken a big step in protecting against burglary. The following are some tips to make the home look occupied:

• Install timers on lights, radios and other items so they will be on at various times.

• Do not leave lights on 24 hours a day; this is a sure sign the house is empty.

• Closing all curtains is another clue to vacancy.

• Keep the garage door down. If the house does not have a garage, have a friend come and move cars around. This gives the appearance that homeowners are coming and going from the house.

• Stopping delivery of newspapers and mail. If delivery is not stopped, have someone pick up daily. A collection of papers in the driveway or mailbox alerts passers-by to an empty house.