Karen is a freelance writer and artist, with a special interest in social issues and the political landscape
No One Expects to be a Crime Victim
When we leave our homes, often the last thing we're thinking about is safety. But safety should be the first thing on your mind when you open the front door (and when you're returning home)/
This is not paranoia or fear-based thinking, but rather common sense for the age in which we live. Violent crime is increasing across the United States, and not just in large cities.
If you have never been a crime victim in your life you may believe it won't happen to you, or that you already follow precautions to be sure you don't become one. But even if you are always careful anyone can become complacent about their personal safety.
Personal Safety begins with Mental Preparedness
Mental preparedness is fundamental to maintaining a mindset of good personal safety. Knowledge and Information is crucial.
- Know exactly where you are driving or walking to. Be sure to look up directions or set your GPS before you leave for your destination. This will prevent getting lost in an unfamiliar area or needing to stop for directions.
- Know the environment you will be in. Job interview? There may be a parking garage or large lot to walk across. Restaurant or nightclub? You may be parking or walking down the street in daylight but leaving after dark.
- Know your plan. Learn your neighborhood and community and find out the best places to run to or stop if you sense trouble. Stop to fuel up your car in a familiar well-lit gas station with the pumps in view of attendants. Familiar territory is your best friend.
- Know what kind of people you will likely be around. When heading off to your job or to visit family you may feel safe. Going to a party or social event can mean meeting new people which can be fun but is also a time for caution.
The Right Defense Accessories Can be Vital to Your Safety Plan
There are many things to consider when it comes to acquiring the tools you may need to keep you safe at home and away.
- Consider an alarm system for your home if you do not already have one. If you rent an apartment or cannot afford to invest in a home security system, look into some of the simpler less expensive alarms that attach to windows and window frames. These can scare prowlers away fast. Some can be used on doors as well.
- Flashlights aren't just for power outages. Keep one in each bedroom and the kitchen, and keep one in your glove compartment.
- Adding additional locks to your door is an obvious consideration. Installing a deadbolt is essential but too many locks on the outside of your entrance can prevent you from getting into your home in a hurry if you feel you are in any danger. Add a lock to the inside that allows you to open the door only part of the way, and then USE IT. It is not rude to speak to a delivery person or repairman this way until you can be sure it is safe to open the door fully.
- There are many handheld personal alarms on the market that trigger a loud alarm with the push of a button. Most are small and fit on your keychain. Your car key fob most likely has an alarm but that is no good if you are not near your vehicle. These are not expensive, are very safe, and even make great gifts.
- Consider taking a self-defense class. Sign up with some friends and go for it! You'll be glad you did. There is no substitute for learning the best way to fight back.
Situational Awareness and Quick Responses can save your life
There are some bad habits we acquire that can put us in jeopardy without us realizing it. When we're busy it's easy to forget to put safety first, but it is a must. With continuous use you can develop better and safer habits to help keep you out of danger.
- STOP looking down at your cell phone as you are walking to your car and when you first sit down in your vehicle. Get in and lock your doors before checking your phone. Do the same when exiting your car, too. If you must check your phone while walking anywhere look around regularly and stay aware of your surrounding environment.
- Always glance out the window of your house before leaving to be sure no one is lurking about. Even if someone looks perfectly safe and fine it is best to wait until they leave the area.
- Before getting out of your car check your rearview and both side mirrors for anyone around. Even when you are in a busy parking lot you can usually find a moment when no one is close to you before opening your car door. Always check your backseat before getting in. Your mother probably told you this but be sure you haven't dropped this important habit.
- If you are leaving a public place and feel someone may be walking up behind you, head back into the building quickly where you will be safer. If the person is still around ask building security or a store manager to escort you out. If that is not an option, phone someone you know or call police. It is best to be safe.
- In any open public areas, keep a hand free whenever you can in the event you need to reach for your car or personal alarm. Better yet get in the habit of always having it out and ready for use.
- Walk with purpose, confidence, and steady speed and keep your head up. Don't look like an easy victim.
- Never leave your purse in a shopping cart while you load your purchases in the trunk, and never leave your trunk lid up for long without checking your environment. Standing behind an open trunk lid puts you in a vulnerable position.
Your Personal Safety begins with You
Here are a few more ideas to keep you safe that you may not have heard before but can be vital:
- If you decide to purchase any personal defense items to carry with you, DON'T tell anyone you have them unless you absolutely must. It makes no sense to let a date you just met see what you have to defend yourself with. These can be stolen or taken and used against you. The same goes for anything you have in your home. Don't give your safety secrets away!
- Don't keep your house and car keys hanging on a hook or on a table by the front door where anyone can see where you keep them. Of course, you know everyone you invited over for a party, but people often arrive with a "friend of a friend", new acquaintance or date you didn't know was coming. Same goes for your neighbors or delivery people. Keys can be taken when you aren't looking or leave your door unlocked for just a few minutes, making you vulnerable to an intruder or having your vehicle stolen. (This is exactly how my son's car was stolen from his driveway.)
- Listen to your intuition. If you don't feel good about a place, person, or social event, keep your guard up.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.