The holiday season is such a joyous occasion, and it should be one free of stress and anxiety for everyone. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

In an effort to wish a happy holiday to the community we serve and to thank you for your unending support, I would like to offer some important safety tips to help make this season a joyous one for this community.

These safety tips are related to three areas that the Whitehall Division of Police finds cause the most stress and anxiety during this season: driving, shopping and depression.

Millions of people go shopping during this season, and this influx of shoppers creates an increase in vehicle crashes. The weather during this time of year can make these travel periods even worse.

The department suggests that you take the time to clean the frost off your car windows, but do not leave your car running unattended. Each year, we see a spike in car thefts during the cold season.

If you attend parties during this holiday, have a designated driver if you plan to drink alcohol, or use a private transportation service such as Uber or Lyft -- or ask a friend to get you home safely.

When driving, keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front, drive defensively, wear your seat belt and control your speed.

Once you arrive at your shopping destination, it is important to be mindful of your surroundings. Thieves are looking for opportunities; do not give them one.

Try to go shopping with a friend and watch for people who may be lurking around the parking lots. When walking to your car, stay off your cellphone in order to give your full attention to your surroundings. This is the time of year when we see a large number of purse-snatching cases. Don't leave your purse unattended in your cart; always keep it attached to you.

When you buy gifts, put them somewhere in your car so they can't be seen from outside. When shopping online, try to schedule your deliveries at a time when you are home.

Lastly, crush your boxes that show what you got for Christmas. When you set these large boxes at the curb for trash pickup, you are telling the thieves what you have in your house.

While this season is joyous for most, it can be one of the most depressing times of the year for others. This time of year seems to bring depression and suicide attempts for many.

I would asked each person to take a few minutes out of their busy holiday schedule to make someone else's day.

If you see a lone diner at a restaurant, ask him or her to join you at your table, share a meal and listen to their stories. Sometimes, it is just a smile and a few kind words that are enough to get that at-risk person through another day.

If you are suffering from depression, call the suicide hotline at 614-221-5445 or Netcare crisis line at 614-276-2273. Sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to.

From our department, we thank you for your support and wish you a safe and happy holiday.

Mike Crispen is chief of the Whitehall Division of Police.