Before I married a man in law enforcement, I thought our community was very safe. I grew up here, and the population was very small when I was young. Since then, there have been about 15-plus subdivisions built, many new apartment complexes added, and it seems safe to say that at least 10 hotels have been built just on the road we live on.
Last year I was walking in the middle of the day, in an area that was built specifically for walking, running, or biking. It’s on a bridge that’s pretty busy. I used to park my car in a place that made the distance across the bridge and back four miles. It’s usually busy from the early morning until the sun has been down for 30 minutes or so. There are plaques to show the distance from the start of the trail and the distance you have left to get to the other side. There are also little outlets with a bench and another plaque. There are close to a hundred cars that will pass you at any given time on your workout. I don’t know what could possibly be done to make this path any safer. While walking at the beginning of the path a lady waved her hand low, trying to get my attention quietly without drawing to much attention. I took my earbuds out and slowed down. She spoke quietly and said, “There’s a man at the next outlet laying on the ground in front of the bench, and he is making noises to women and throwing his arm out to grab their legs. Walk all the way on the right side. He won’t be able to grab you there. Another lady warned me and he did try to grab me, but he couldn’t.” This was around 10 am! Sun all the way up, not a cloud in the sky. Tons of vehicles driving by. Sure enough, when I walked by he made like a “Huagh” noise (no clue what word or sound he was going for there) and swiped his arm out. There was a good 8 feet between he and I. So I warned all the ladies I passed. I called the police in that area, but I never saw them come by. If that could happen at that time and location, I know now that I need to be prepared to help myself at all times.
I took some time to ask people in law enforcement and other security areas for ways to keep myself and my family after. I’ve compiled a list of steps you can follow to be safe and aware of your surroundings.
Tips for when you’re out and about
Always be aware of your surroundings.
Walk with your head up and be aware of what is going on around you. Make eye contact with people you pass. An attacker is less likely to try anything with you when they are sure you’ll be able to identify them.Walk confidently, not showing weakness.
When walking to your car, be sure to get your keys from you purse or pocket before you walk outside.
It’s safer to have your keys in your hand while you’re heading to your car, rather than having to stand next to your vehicle digging for the keys. Then you’re distracted and you make for an easier target. When I worked for a local bank, they had security experts come in and give us safety tips. The guy teaching the course told us to have your keys in your hand with your keys going through your fingers between each knuckle. It makes a good weapon should you need it. I’ve been doing that ever since. Also, lock your car doors immediately once you get in.
Be careful if you’re listening to your headphones when you’re out.
When you’re out walking or jogging, make sure your headphones aren’t too loud. You make for easy prey when you cannot hear someone coming up beside or behind you. I’m definitely guilty of this one. I love to listen to music, and I like it loud. Try to turn the music to a low volume that allows you to hear everything around you, or only use one earbud. It’s less likely that someone could sneak up on you.
Make sure you walk in well lit areas.
If you’re out and about when it’s dark, make sure you park where there is plenty of light and where there are a lot of people. Criminals are less likely to be around where they are easily seen and heard. Try to avoid door recesses and places someone could hide behind, like dumpsters.
Try to always use the buddy system.
It’s safer to walk with someone else. It’s harder to attack and/or kidnap more than one person. If you have to be alone, make sure you’re not distracted by your phone. Looking down and/or walking distracted allows someone to easily grab you or your belongings.
Never leave your drink and come back to drink it.
When I was old enough to go out my step-father told me this one. If you leave your drink, throw it away. It could be drugged while you were gone. Either drink it quickly before heading to the bathroom or just throw it away. Also, you should not accept a drink that you didn’t see poured. That’s another way women are drugged.
Check your vehicle before getting in.
Be sure to check you backseat and floor boards before you enter the car. Make sure there is no one hiding in your car.
Don’t be afraid to seem rude.
Many times we may sense danger, but we’re afraid we’ll seem rude if we do anything about it. It’s better to be rude and safe, than to not be rude and be attacked. If you think something seems wrong, go with your gut. God gave us senses for a reason. If you get a bad vibe from someone walking toward you, cross the street. Again, look confident, look them in the eye. If they get too close, yell and scream. Cause a ruckus so that people will look at you. This will hopefully scare your attacker away.
Do not let someone kidnap you and take you to another location.
During the same safety class for the bank I worked for, they taught us to do anything to not be taken away. We were told that only 19% of people taken hostage return. Kick, scream, and go after vulnerable parts of your kidnapper. Dig your fingers into their eyes. Knee them in the groin with all you’ve got. Kick them in the knees.Headbutt them in the nose. If they have a gun and you get away, run in a zig zag pattern. It’s harder to hit a moving target. Draw attention to yourself any way you can.
If you are taken and put into a trunk, kick out the taillights.
With your back to the front of the car, begin kicking at the taillights. Once you have one out, try to put your hands through the whole to attract attention to yourself. Search the trunk lid for the safety release button to free yourself entirely. Again, attract as much attention to yourself as possible.
Tips for when you’re home
Always lock your doors and windows.
It seems obvious, but we get complacent at times. Make a habit of walking in your door, then lock it right when you close it. Be sure to keep all windows and doors locked, even if they aren’t on the first floor. In our area we just had a man climb up and go into someone’s balcony door. Dude was like Spiderman!
Have an evacuation plan that the whole family knows.
Talk to your kids about what to do in an emergency, like a fire. We make sure our kids know to get out of the house immediately if there’s a fire. Don’t go back for the dog or an item, or even for us. We make sure they know that getting out and going to get help is the best way to save everyone. I’ve shown them how to break their bedroom windows and how to climb down to safety. Tell your kids to run to a neighbor and ask them to call 911. It would also be helpful to let them know that any cellphone can call 911, even an old one without service.
Leave a light on so it seems like someone is always home.
Your home will be safer if it seems that there’s always someone in the house. You could also leave a TV on or music playing. Your home is less likely to be broken into. Also, always close your blinds or curtains when the sun sets. Once it’s down, people will be able to see in. I know you don’t want the creepy guy down the block to see you put on your pj’s!
Don’t always take the same route home.
Especially if you work somewhere like a bank or somewhere that needs heightened security, you should always change the way you go home. It’s easier for criminals to follow you home, then use you to get into the place that you work. Be careful of personalized license plates as well. They make it easier to follow you.
Teach your kids a safety word.
When my oldest started kindergarten, she picked a password that anyone would have to give if anything out of the ordinary happened. For example, if someone came to get her from school because they said I’d been hurt and put in the hospital. That person would have to give her and the school or whoever was with her at that moment, the password. My son picked his password as well. Make sure that your child knows to never tell anyone the password.
Keep you car key fob next to your bed.
This is a new tip circulating. If you don’t have a security system, keep your key fob next to your bed. If see or hear something suspicious, press the panic button. It will draw attention to your house and buy time for the police to arrive. I don’t think criminals want to hang around with a car honking over and over with its lights flashing!
These are just a few tips to help you navigate more safely through your day to day life. We can never be too safe! Leave me a comment if you have any other safety tips that you use. Share with your loved ones to keep them safe and sound as well.