Cindy Speaker: Good afternoon, and welcome to our broadcast today. My name is Cindy Speaker, and I have with me David Daggett of Daggett Shuler Attorneys at Law. Hi, David.

David Daggett: Hey, Cindy. How are you doing today?

Cindy Speaker:  I’m good. How are you doing?

David Daggett:  Good. I’m getting excited for holiday season.

Cindy Speaker: I know. Me, too. Me, too. That’s actually our topic today. We’re going to talk about holiday safety.

David Daggett:  Right, right. Good, good.

Cindy Speaker:  So, let’s start off and talk a little bit about during the holiday times, a lot of people have parties and things like that. What about if you’re a host of a party where alcohol is being served? Talk a little bit about that and safety issues.

David Daggett:  Well, holidays should be the happiest of times for family and friends. Unfortunately, they can turn into an instant tragedy with irresponsible drinking. Letting them get out of control is a problem. The one thing is, we’re grown up now, Cindy, is nobody likes being around a drunk at a party. It’s not fun at the party. It doesn’t add to anything. We all need to exercise personal responsibility and not let holiday parties and drinking get out of control for your safety, for your family and friends’ safety, for those on the road’s safety. It just is not a good idea.

So, we start with our personal responsibility and us being responsible. It’s interesting. With kids in college, one of the things that we’re starting to see frequently at parties, particularly where you have punch bowls or any sort of open drinks, is spiking the punch bowls. Spiking of drinks, we’ve actually had here in the office several people contact us with just terrible situations that end up with… I don’t want to stray way off, but end in sexual assault and all sorts of other things.

You should not get in, what I call, party mode where you’re just open partying, because that’s not being responsible. It’s not being responsible for yourself. It’s not being responsible for friends and family members. It’s just not being responsible. I think that’s something we all need to be mindful of going into the holidays. We can talk. There’s all sorts of things, regarding holiday safety, but I think that is first and foremost.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah. I agree with you. Let’s stay on this with parties. Let’s talk about the hosts of a party.

David Daggett:  Sure, so-

Cindy Speaker:  If somebody gets out of control, how is the host… Are they responsible?

David Daggett:  The law basically is, if the host continues to serve somebody who they knew or should’ve known is impaired and knew or should’ve known that they’re going to operate a vehicle, and that party-goer leaves and causes some sort of tragedy, the host of the party can be held accountable. If you’re hosting a party, you need to be responsible for your guests. The atmosphere needs to be one where you’re not getting intoxicated and not sending people out like that.

The recommendations are always, have alternative drinks. Have small drinks. Make sure there’s plenty of other food and snacks, and not make the drinking the centerpiece of the party. I think that’s really, really important for the host, most for your own personal financial liability, but also out of care and concern for your guests and other people on the road.

But the good news is, is I think for the most part, society has become much more aware of those issues. Personally, in what I have seen, is it’s more controlled than it used to be in past times. I think younger people are better about that today than they were before. So, that’s the drinking. That’s the host liability. I don’t want to hit that too hard, but please, please, please be responsible for yourself, for your family and friends, and for other people out in the community.

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah, yeah. Well, let’s also talk about crimes. Let me start off with a little one, because one of the things that happens in my neighborhood, neighbors will say, “Did you see my package? I was told it was delivered. Amazon sent me a text. It’s gone.”

David Daggett:  Right, right. Overall, crime is up during the holiday season. The crime is going to happen where there’s the easiest, quickest access. Your person with a criminal mind, and I don’t want to go too far getting into the criminal mind, but the person with a criminal mind is looking for easy targets. We have a good friend of mine and of our law firm, Lieutenant John Morris with the Winston-Salem Police Department, who has spoken at our office. What he has said is, “You don’t want to have soft targets. You want to harden up.”

So, package is on the porch. How do you harden up? You have lights on. Catherine in my office has a great idea. During the holiday season, she puts bigger plant potters out on her porch, but sitting a little bit away from the house so that deliveries can be put behind the pots, and so the person driving by can’t immediately look up and see that there’s packages on the doorstep.

Cindy Speaker: That’s a great idea.

David Daggett:  That’s hardening up and not allowing soft targets. If you go by the house and they got a stack of Amazon boxes at the front door and a circular drive so it’s easy in and out, that’s a soft target, and that’s just inviting criminal activity. Talking about soft targets, we have some neighbors. I’m probably going to get in trouble, but I won’t name them, who complain about potential criminal activity, and yet they leave their newspapers lay in the driveway whenever they’re out of town.

Cindy Speaker:  Oh, boy.

David Daggett: Well, that is creating a soft target. It is a telepathic signal to the bad guy that you’re not home. So, do the opposite, is eliminate those telepathic signals to the bad guys, hardening up your targets or your house, your belongings, and not having the soft targets. Likewise, the packages on the porch, your home, in general, is more susceptible to rime during the holidays, just because crime goes up. Bad guys know that there’s Christmas presents out. There’s sometimes extra money around, whatever. Having timers on lights in the house, they’re real cheap. You can go buy them at Home Depot, or Walmart, or wherever, and put them on a couple lights in your house so the lights go on and off.

The bad guys do not like lights. Most detector lights outside that come on, that creates a hard target. They’ll pass you up and go down the street to the softer target. I mean, that’s just the reality of the situation. So, making sure that you do those little things to look out for yourself makes you a hard target, and that’s not what the bad guys want. The bad guys want the easier, soft targets.

David Daggett: Little things. If you’re going out of down during the holidays, stop your newspaper and stop your mail. What you’re doing is you’re hardening your perimeter. Put up motion detector lights. Have a couple timers inside. You’ve hardened up, and bad guys tend to stay away from that situation.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah. Now what about in the community? You’re out shopping. You’re out at the movies. Talk a little bit about safety issues around the holidays in the community.

David Daggett: Here’s kind of the paradox that you get into, is that there is more shopping around the holidays, but the holidays also occur at the darkest time of the year. The parking lots are dark. You’re walking to your car alone, that sort of thing. Again, these are all sort of common sense, but if we keep in mind being a hard target instead of a soft target, park closer to the entrance of wherever you’re going, rather than further away. Park under the lights in the parking lot, as opposed to the dark areas. Make sure that you’re aware of what’s going on around you.

When I’m teaching my kids to drive, I tell them, “When you’re going down the road, you want to know where all the cars are without even looking, because you’ve wanted to stay up to date where everything is around you. That’s how you’re a safe driver.” The way you’re a safe shopper is when you walk out of the store, you don’t have your blinders on. You see what’s around you. If there’s something suspicious going on over here, maybe you wait until somebody else is coming out, because again, the bad guys don’t want to attack a crowd. That’s a hard target. They want the one person. That’s a softer target. Keep your eyes open. Scan the parking lot before you walk out. Be careful.

A few years ago, at our mall here, guys would hide. They’d crawl under the car, and when you walked up to the door, they would grab your ankles and pull you down.

Cindy Speaker: Wow.

David Daggett:  Obviously, the element of surprise, grab what you have, and they’re off and running. And so, again, that is not likely to happen if you’re under the lights. It’s not likely to happen if you’re in a busier area where there’s traffic. And, you want to be aware. You want to look before you get closer to your vehicle. The best protection is a good defensive mindset, not paranoid mindset, but a just common sense defensive mindset when you go out into the community and go shopping or what have you.

The other thing is, there’s almost always somebody around you can ask for help.

Cindy Speaker: That’s true.

David Daggett: If you’re coming out, the stores have security guards. You can ask them. Frequently, if I see somebody coming out of a store, even just at the little shopping center with Trader Joe’s down the street, and it’s dark, and they have any apprehension, I just offer, “Hey, you want me to walk to your car with you?” “Sure.” People are willing to do that, and there’s nothing wrong with just asking. It’s much, much better to be safe than sorry. That’s if you’re out shopping.

Home safety, there’s all sorts of things to consider. Christmas lights, I’m one of the bad ones. I tend to put extension cord to extension cord to extension cord. Home fires tend to be on the increase around the holidays. Usually, that’s because we’re doing something different that isn’t the best practice. Even people falling, putting the star on the top of their Christmas tree. That happens frequently. You hear about it occasionally, but you’d be shocked at how many times that happens that somebody falls decorating their Christmas tree. Right.

One of the things that we just had, I went home for lunch real quick and got the knock on the door, because they don’t give you a good window of time, but a lot of us have gas logs in the house, also. They can deteriorate over the time and be a danger, either with carbon monoxide in the house or as a fire hazard. Interestingly, our gas company here in Winston-Salem, which is Piedmont Natural Gas, all you have to do is call them, and they will come for free, and they will inspect your gas logs for you. They’ll light the pilot for you and make sure everything is in good shape. I like Piedmont Natural Gas. The only downside is, is they give you a big window as to when they might show up.

The other thing is, the Winston-Salem Police Department, I’m sorry I’m looking away, but I wrote this down so that I can remember, is the Winston-Salem Police Department has a terrific program reminding people to lock their cars and to lock their houses. They recommend 9:00 PM each night. I would say get in the habit of always doing it, and particularly when the sun goes down, but they have a hashtag #9PMroutine. They use that on Twitter just as a reminder to make sure that you lock up. Again, that’s hardening your exterior. Bad guys don’t like the hard exterior. They want a soft exterior. If they come by and it’s hard, they’re going to go someplace else. All those little things, they just help you.

David Daggett: I just want everybody… We all want, from the bottom of our hearts, we want everybody to have safe and happy holidays. Follow some of this common sense advice, because it’s really a bummer if something bad happens.

Even if it’s not your fault, it’s a bummer. So, let’s help each other look after each other. Help remind each other. If the #9PMroutine helps remind you, follow that, and let’s spread that word so we can have a happy and joyous holiday season.