Q: I’m flying out of town for the holidays and would like some suggestions on making my time at the airport less of a hassle?

A: The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has provided a list of all the new flight guidelines that travelers should know. They cover a variety of travel tips and security policies that must be adhered to when you fly. Here are some of those rules.

Bring your I.D. with you, including your passport if you are leaving the country. These are items you will want to have on your person at all times. Lose them, and you will have a difficult time getting home. Be prepared to show them when you check in at the airport. The I.D. must be a valid state or federal issue, and contain your name, birth date, gender and date of expiration. TSA offers a list of valid forms of I.D. online.

The rules for carrying any type of liquid on to a plane have changed in recent years. A new policy is in place known as 3-1-1. It specifies that any liquid must be held in nothing larger than a 3 ounce container. All of your liquid filled containers must be held inside of one clear plastic bag that features a zip lock at the top. Passengers are allowed just one of these baggies within their luggage. Anything above these limits will be taken away and disposed of. There are only a few exceptions, and all for medical purposes.

Nothing that is considered to be a potential danger to others is allowed on an airplane. This includes anything with a sharp blade, sports products, tools, martial arts items and firearms. Many of these products can be brought on board within checked luggage, as long as they are legal for you to carry across state lines.

While packing, keep in mind that your bags are subject to being searched at any time. Place larger items such as jackets or electronic equipment in baggage that will be checked. Organize your belongings in an orderly manner so they can be reviewed quickly by security personnel.

When you travel during the holidays, you may wish to bring some unusual items with you. Don’t wrap any gifts you will be bringing on the plane, because security officials will need to search them. That means they will have to tear apart your carefully adorned presents and you will have to do it all over again. You may want to bring specific foods or beverages with you, so visit the TSA website to find out what you can and cannot take on board, www.tsa.gov.

Q: I’m thinking about setting up a Facebook account, but would like to know what precautions I should take?

A: Social networking via Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with old friends and make new ones. That being said, individuals should really be careful with Facebook, as with any other online networking site. You should take advantage of the tutorials offered by Facebook to protect your privacy and personal information. Below are some basic rules to guide you:

• Post only information and photos you are comfortable having made completely public;

• Manage your privacy settings. Don’t depend on the defaults set by your social media provider;

• Don’t “friend” individuals you really don’t know;

• Restrict your profile so that it’s not visible to other search engines;

• Don’t automatically respond to a friend in distress. If you receive a post requesting money — usually a Western Union funds wire — do your homework and verify that your friend really does need help. Did they actually travel outside the country? Can you check this information with other family or friends? Friend in distress is a very common scam that happens when a thief takes over someone else’s account and then send an e-mail request to each of the contacts in a legitimate address book asking of funds to bail them out of a bad situation. The thief is relying on the recipients sending the money without asking any questions.

Once on Facebook, visit the Santa Monica Police Department’s new page. There are many of the bulletins and announcements you would find on our website, but includes many more photos of events we participate in. See photos of Palloween, Citizen’s Academy and recent trips with our Harbor Guard. It is a great way to see how involved our department is with our community.

This column was prepared by NRO Richard Carranza (Beat 1: coastal, beach and pier areas). He can be reached at (424) 200-0681 or richard.carranza@smgov.net.

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