Holiday Safety Tips (and Season’s Greetings!)

Public Safety & U — December
Drexel Police and a few students posing at the Nov. 27 Cookies With Cops event. Text at bottom reads Public Safety & U — December.
Drexel Police and a few students posing at the Nov. 17 Cookies With Cops event.

Season’s Greetings from Drexel Public Safety! Whether you are holiday-ready or have yet to begin preparations, the tips provided below will help ensure all members of the Drexel community enjoy a safe, healthy and joyful holiday season. As a reminder to anyone who will be on campus during the winter break, Public Safety will be here 24/7 offering the same resources as always.

Holiday Season Safety Tips

Avoid these decorating hazards

Nothing can ruin your holidays like a trip to the emergency room or a visit from the fire department. Remember these safety tips when you’re planning to decorate outdoors:

  • Check the weather and wait it out — snow and ice can make hanging lights on rooftops dangerous.
  • Ensure your ladder is firmly footed, on level ground and angled to the structure for ideal safety.
  • Be aware of power lines.
  • Use plastic clips (not metal fasteners) to secure lights.
  • Ensure all light sets are not frayed or split, and plug in all connections tightly.

When decorating indoors, keep in mind that although traditional decorations may look pretty, they can be harmful to children and pets.

  • Spray-on snow contains chemicals that can be harmful if inhaled. Avoid spraying while children are nearby and do so in a well-ventilated area.
  • Vintage glass ornaments passed down from generations are fragile and can produce extremely sharp shards if broken. Some may also contain lead paint.
  • Tinsel and garland can become choking hazards and cause dangerous blockages in the digestive tracts for both children and pets.
  • Poinsettias, holly berries and mistletoe are all poisonous to humans and pets if swallowed.

Protect yourself while shopping

While you’re out checking off those shopping lists and visiting busy retail centers this season:

  1. Stay Alert
    • Park near your destination.
    • Be aware of your surrounding and belongings.
  2. Guard Your Valuables Against Theft
    • Never leave your purse, wallet or phone unattended in a cart or on the counter.
    • Carry your purses and wallets close to your body or zipped inside in a pocket.
    • Lock packages in your trunk, out of sight.
  3. Protect Your Family
    • If shopping with small children, establish a meeting point in case of separation.
    • Teach children how to seek help from store personnel or security.
    • Before leaving the house, take pictures of your children and what they are wearing — this helps when looking for lost children.

Shop online responsibly

  • Shop with known businesses, conducting transactions on a secure server only.
  • Do not provide your Social Security number or driver’s license number, as these are not needed for online purchases.
  • Make sure your computer has the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software downloaded. (Review the Information Security section of Drexel IT’s website for more tips and trainings.)
  • Monitor credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized charges.
  • You can use the lobby of Public Safety headquarters (3219 Arch St.) as a “Safe Online Transaction Zone” when buying, selling and exchanging goods with folks you meet online.

Safeguard packages from theft

  • If you won’t be home for a delivery, have your packages delivered elsewhere, such as an Amazon pick-up/return site, P.O. box or a FedEx or UPS location.
  • Request that deliveries require a signature. With carriers like FedEx or UPS, you can often set this preference through your customer account, even if the package is already on its way. In other cases, such as U.S. Postal Service deliveries, you will need to arrange for a signature ahead of time.
  • Subscribe to delivery alerts. All major delivery services offer notification services for package updates. A text message will inform you that your package has arrived.
  • Ask a family member, roommate, or trusted neighbor to retrieve your package for you.
  • Revisit July’s newsletter for more tips on avoiding package thefts.

Be smart with space heaters

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Check for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use.
  • Plug the heater directly into wall outlets; don’t use an extension cord or power strip. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place the heaters on a solid, flat surface. Never place on cabinets, tables, furniture or carpet, all of which can overheat and start a fire.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from flammable items (paper, clothing, rugs, bedding, etc.).
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.

Stay safe while traveling

Before you leave for holiday travel:

  • Stop mail and cancel deliveries.
  • Put an automatic timer on lights.
  • Tell a trusted family member, friend or neighbor your itinerary.
  • Lock all windows and doors, including the basement and garage.

When traveling through airports:

  • Walk with confidence, keeping your head up and looking forward.
  • Never leave your luggage unattended.
  • Only use taxis and transportation services with official markings.
  • Mark your luggage so that it can be easily identified and picked up right away.

While away from home:

  • Carry a minimum amount of cash.
  • Carry your cell phone close to you.
  • If driving, plan your route and have your car serviced, including your tires. Always keep an emergency preparedness kit with you, and do not drive while drowsy.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.

Community Commitments

Holiday Cookies With Cops: Dec. 8

Join DPS on Dec. 8, from 10 a.m. to noon at 33rd and Arch streets for a holiday-themed Cookies With Cops, complete with a hot cocoa bar!

Image of an officer and Mario the Magnificent dragon posing at a table outside with the text "Your Safety is Our Goal."

DPS Educational Programs: Learn How to Protect Yourself

You can request any of the following presentations and trainings by completing the Request a Presentation Form.

  • Your Safety Is Our Goal, Dec. 19, at 9 a.m. or 4 p.m.: This monthly virtual workshop is a great way to learn how to stay aware of your surroundings and always be prepared, not scared, when moving through the city. You may register for any of these presentations on Qualtrics, or if neither of these times work for your schedule, you can request a session by completing the Request a Presentation Form.
  • Self-Awareness for Everyone (SAFE): Public Safety’s self-protection program aims to give Drexel students, faculty and professional staff the practical skills, resources, and knowledge to increase their personal safety and protect themselves in unsafe situations. This hands-on class lasts approximately 4.5 hours. Upcoming scheduled sessions are on Jan. 14 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Feb. 16 and March 14 from 5–9:30 p.m. You can sign up on Qualtrics for one of these sessions, but they’re also available by request.
  • Fire & Emergency Services, Emergency Preparedness: The Office of Fire and Emergency Services offers tailored, data-driven awareness and training programs, by request, to help the Drexel community reduce the risks of fire. Additional topics covered are medical emergencies, elevator entrapments, power outages, gas leaks, and other common challenges.
  • Workplace Safety Program: The Public Safety & U workplace safety program is designed to empower and educate members of the Drexel community and can be customized to address the unique security challenges of your unit and identify solutions. You can also request a session by completing the Request a Presentation Form.

We Are Here for You When You Need Us

Please call 215.895.2222 immediately if you experience or witness a crime. Drexel’s Public Safety Communications Center is staffed 24/7 to serve you, whether or not you choose to remain anonymous when making a report. It is vital that crimes are reported promptly to Drexel Police so that they can be investigated, and so that Public Safety can connect the victim(s) with proper resources. You can also contact DPS through the Drexel Guardian app. Drexel Guardian will not track you nor share your information unless you initiate an emergency. To download the app, search for “Rave Guardian” in the app store or Google Play store.

Emergency Numbers

215.895.2222 or 911

TTY: 215.571.4141

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To learn more about Drexel Public Safety, visit