Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Safety Tips

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office wants all children to enjoy Halloween festivities this week.

Motorists should use extreme caution and drive slowly to avoid accidents with children who might be distracted by the festivities. Citizens should keep doors locked, even if you are just "out front" handing out candy, to prevent burglars from taking advantage of the holiday. 

Here are some additional reminders to help keep trick-or-treaters safe:
  • Try to trick-or-treat in groups. 
  • Never allow small children to visit a door without a trusted adult. 
  • Parents should always accompany trick-or-treaters, no matter how old the children are.
  • Only approach well-lit homes where porch or exterior lights are ON. 
  • Look both ways before crossing streets and use sidewalks whenever possible.
  • Avoid shortcuts through back yards, alleys or parks. 
  • Eat only factory-wrapped treats and never eat anything homemade from strangers.
  • Examine all candy for choking hazards and tampering. 
  • Be cautious around pets and other animals. 
  • Keep costumes short to prevent tripping/falling. 
  • Make sure masks or head coverings do not hinder eyesight. 
  • Wear light-colored costumes or add reflective tape to dark clothing. 
  • Have children carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen. 
  • Report any and all suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately. 
Another way to ensure the safety of trick-or-treaters is to attend public, organized events. Instead of visiting unfamiliar neighborhoods consider Halloween festivities at malls, churches or events sponsored by local businesses.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Another day... another data breach, along with some helpful tips.

Some 76 million households were affected by a cyberattack against JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest bank. Whether you're a customer of theirs or not, no doubt you have seen the stories of significant data breaches for major retailers on an almost weekly basis. So how do you protect yourself? Industry experts explain what scams you might expect to see and some tips about how to handle them.

  1. Don't click on email links. After big data breaches, scammers start sending out emails. The emails may mention Chase or past breaches. Never click on any links. Malware could be downloaded to your computer and steal account passwords and other sensitive information.
  2. Watch your mailbox. Thieves could also send letters. Some might claim you've won a tablet, vacation or other valuable prize and give you a phone number to call. Don't do it - it might be a way to get more personal information from you.
  3. Hang u the phone and ignore texts that aren't from people you know. Since phone numbers of Chase customers were stolen, be wary of calls asking for account numbers. Crooks are sending texts now too so don't click any links from numbers you don't know.
  4. Don't overlook small charges. Criminals will charge smaller amounts to your credit card, usually under $10, to see if you notice, then charge a larger amount later. It's best to check online statements for suspicious activity once a week. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Wake of a Data Breach

Criminals around the world are buying and selling stolen credit card information every day with a few easy clicks of the mouse. According to Risk Based Security, a risk manager that tracks credit fraud, 2,164 data breaches exposed a record 822 million consumer records in the U.S. last year. The scariest part is that these incidents are often out of the consumer’s control. With major companies like Target, Home Depot and P.F. Changs apologizing on behalf of third-party credit card vendors, citizens are growing increasingly weary of using plastic. Goodwill Industries, another recent breach victim, acknowledged 16 Sarasota and Manatee stores among 330 nationwide that have been hit by data breach. Surely it’s the business’s responsibility to handle data management and monitor their vendors – that can’t possibly fall on the shoulders of the consumer. The best a consumer can do is keep receipts, check credit statements regularly and report fraudulent charges immediately. Good news, if there is any, is that consumers will rarely, if ever, be held liable for charges they didn’t make. For helpful consumer protection tips, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Advice in the Wake of a Data Breach and if you think your information has been compromised, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for what steps to take next.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Look Before you Lock!


With Florida temperatures averaging in the 90s, a parked car can heat up significantly in a matter of minutes. Too many children have been left unattended in cars around the country this summer – and many of those victims died. Now that we’re into our hottest month we can’t say it enough: do not leave children or pets in your vehicle even for a short period of time and look before you lock!

To show you just how dangerously hot it can get, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Vleck offered to illustrate what 10 minutes inside a parked car looks and feels like. WATCH IT HERE!

Here are a few facts to remind you to LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK!

  • It takes just 10 minutes for the temperature in a car to go up 20 degrees.
  •  A child’s body temperature can rise up to FIVE TIMES FASTER than an adult.
  • A core body temperature of 107 degrees can be lethal. Cells are damaged and internal organs begin to shut down.
  • Cracking the windows has little effect, so NEVER leave a child or a pet unattended in a vehicle, not even for a minute.

Remember Florida law prohibits anyone from leaving children unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle. Read more about the risks and consequences of leaving kids alone in hot cars from Parent Central and remember, LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Connecting by Conversation

If you haven’t talked to your children about online safety, now is the time to do so. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has launched the Take 25 Program encouraging conversation and shared understanding between adults and youth. The concept is to take 25 minutes with your child and discuss action steps if they find themselves in threatening situations online. Topics range from missing children and runaways to online sexual exploitation and everything in between.

We also recommend visiting our Cyber Safety page featuring Computer COP Internet security software that our agency provides free of charge. The product can help parents monitor their child’s internet use by reviewing internet search history, stored videos and images, social networking sites, and email and chat correspondence. Email your mailing address to srqsher@scgov.net for your personal copy or call the Community Affairs Office, 861-4005 with your request.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gearing Up for Back to School


Bicycle safety is important to us because we believe parents who ride safely inspire children to ride safely. As the school year starts up, take some time to brush up on your family’s two-wheel safety knowledge. Here are some basic tips to get you started: 



  • Always wear a proper fitting helmet and make sure to buckle the chin strap.
  • Ride on bike paths or on the sidewalk.
  • If you ride along streets make sure they have low traffic volume and lower speeds.
  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic, and stop at all stop signs and signals.
  • Never use headphones or cell phones while riding.

For more in-depth tips and to read up on Florida’s bicycle regulations, visit our Bicycle Safety page. While you’re there, be sure to download Sheriff Knight’s Bicycle Safety Tips

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Stop on Red, Kids Ahead

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office wants parents and children to take extra caution when it comes to school bus safety this year. Since more children are relying on this mode of transportation, we want to refocus and remind Sarasota County students of what’s expected on and off the bus. 

The National Safety Council has provided a list of School Bus Safety Rules for you to discuss with your children before the first day of school. It includes tips for getting on and off the bus and for behavior while riding to and from school. 

Helpful for drivers, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has launched the Stop on Red, Kids Ahead campaign to educate the public on the rules of the road when a school bus is present. Make this school year the one to practice better safety!