Now that Christmas has ended and most presents have been unwrapped and thoroughly enjoyed, clean-up and disposal will take to the forefront.
The joy of Christmas morning is now being replaced by the mounds of shredded wrapping paper and the countless boxes and other miscellaneous items that do more than just clutter up a living room and fill trash bins.
Piled up boxes near the curb can act as an advertisement for anyone willing to ruin Christmas, while the large quantity of paper can pose an increased risk for fire.
“If you have a lot of excess paper or boxes, it’s a good idea to break those boxes down and store those away until trash day,” said Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant. “You don’t want people coming by and pilfering through it.”
Bryant said that boxes left by the curb should be broken down to conceal the original content, while delivery items and an empty driveway creates a tempting target for would-be thieves.
“Don’t leave any boxes on your front porch,” Bryant said. “If you have to have anything delivered, make sure you get home as quick as you can and make sure to have a tracking number so you can see where it is. Buying local is good. I always strive to buy local.”
Bryant said having items delivered to your place of employment or during arranged times could also reduce the risk of theft.
While external threats can be easily avoided, internal threats continue to pose larger, life-threatening risks. Overloaded electrical outlets and extension cords used for appliances or electric heaters are responsible for a disproportionate number of fires during the colder months.
“You want to make sure that your outlets aren’t overloaded with Christmas lights, or anything else because that can cause a fire,” Bryant said. “Make sure to keep any wrapping paper and boxes away from any open flames.”
Social media activity can also open a door to unwanted attention and potential theft, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.
“If you’re going on vacation, or if you’re going out of town for an extended period, don’t put it on Facebook,” Bryant said. “Post those pictures after you get back. Everyone thinks that Facebook is private, nothing is really private on social media. Social media is an open book.”
Throughout southern Oklahoma, the Christmas spirit has been on display during the month of December. Bryant said the level of charity available can lead some to try and take advantage of the kindness of others.
“Southern Oklahoma is very giving, and I have seen more and more of it going on during the holiday season. People want to help out their neighbors and they want to help out people who are less fortunate than they are,” Bryant said. “We all want to help out as much as we can, but we need to be cognizant. These people may not be who they say they are. They may give a false name or say that they are with a certain organization or try to mislead people. Unfortunately, that creates skepticism for the rest of the community that actually does need the help. And that hurts everyone in the community.”
Bryant said anyone interested in donating or getting involved should participate through local organizations to make sure their efforts go to help those that are truly in need.