The holidays are upon us!

It can be easy to lose sight of practicality when we’re swept up in the excitement of our holiday plans. But, thinking ahead and planning accordingly can help everything run smoother.

Before you hit the roads for the holidays, review these helpful tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.

1. Protect your home

Burglary and theft rates are 22 percent higher in December than all other months combined. Texas is reported to have one of the highest holiday burglary rates in the country, with 69 reports for every 10,000 residents.

With break-in rates increasing during the holidays, be sure to test your security system and ensure it’s working properly before going out of town.

Other tips to secure your home:

  • Don’t leave obvious signs you’re gone—leaving notes on the door, your dumpster out on the street for days, etc.
  • Don’t leave empty boxes of expensive Christmas gifts on the curb—Xbox, TV, iPad, etc.
  • Set a timer for your outdoor and indoor lights, so the house isn’t dark the entire time you’re gone.

2. Be Prepared

Getting stranded on the side of the road in the cold is the last thing you want to happen on your holiday vacation. Get your car inspected or serviced before hitting the road. Make sure your tire pressure and oil are up to par and keep a spare tire and emergency service kit in the car at all times. Tools like a carjack, cell phone charger, first aid kit, and jumper cables can make all the difference in an emergency situation.

Plan your routes ahead of time and check the weather and traffic before leaving your house to avoid any unwanted closures, detours, or unforeseen weather conditions. Also, be sure to pack some water for the road—dehydration can lead to fatigue and decreased alertness.

If you’re embarking on a long drive this winter, allow yourself time to stop and stretch your legs. Even taking a break once every few hours will boost your energy levels, focus, and mood.

If you’re taking a long flight, be sure to get up and move around, as well as flex and stretch your limbs while seated to avoid blood clots.

3. Stay Clean

Whether you’re going out of town by car, plane, or train, germs creep up on us while we’re traveling. No one wants to be sick on vacation, so avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth as much as possible. Be sure to frequently and thoroughly wash your hands, and carry a small antibacterial hand sanitizer on you or in your bag while traveling.

Wishing you and your family a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season,