While the holiday season can bring out the best in people, presents, packages and out-of-town visits can also present temptation for burglars.

The Hermiston Police Department has compiled some tips for keeping your home safe this December.

Police officials remind homeowners to keep gifts and valuables out of public view, especially from front windows, and to keep doors and windows closed and locked. When traveling, make your home look “lived in” by using timers to turn on lights according to your normal schedule and setting a radio or television set to turn on to give the appearance of someone being home. Having neighbors take in your garbage can and pick up mail and newspapers can also prevent a home from looking unoccupied.

Anyone leaving town for a number of days can also download the “Vacation House Check Form” from the city’s website — available at www.hermiston.or.us/police_forms — and turn that in to the Hermiston Police Department

“We would encourage people to submit that form to us if they were to leave for the holidays,” Lt. Jason Edmiston said Friday. “If you turn that in, we will make sure we do some extra drive-bys and check your property while you’re gone.”

Whether staying at home or traveling over the winter months, also keep the safety of family pets in mind; decorations and winter temperatures pose danger for animal companions as well.

“Right now we’re seeing a lot of cold pets and animals that are getting respiratory diseases from being out in the cold. When an animal is outside, it takes a lot more energy to keep up their body temperature, which makes the immune system stressed,” Dr. Carrie Marcum, of Hermiston Veterinary Clinic, said Wednesday. “Especially with this cold weather outside, we need to make sure that good shelter is provided — something without drafts and moisture, ideally up off the ground with insulation and a door. Dogs that are outside are also going to need a higher amount of fat in their diet in order to stay warm. Make sure you’re providing a good, high quality, protein diet.”

In low temperatures, pet owners should also monitor an animals water supply — a bowl of water can easily freeze — and when an animal gets ice in its paws, use warm water to remove the snow, not de-icing salt, which can cause cracks and injury.

Inside a home decorated for the holidays, keep breakable ornaments out of a pet’s reach and cover Christmas tree water if using a  preservatives or salt. “Also remember that mistletoe, holly and poinsettias can all cause stomach problems for pets that ingest them,” Marcum said. “If a pet ingests any of these — or if a pet drinks any antifreeze — take it to a vet as soon as possible.”

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