Top 10 Personal Safety Tips

Have you watched the news lately? I know most of the material they report is depressing, but take 5 to 10 minutes to watch it. You will notice men and women explaining to thousands and sometimes millions of viewers their experience being a victim of a crime. What makes their stories even worse is that it could have been prevented. These innocent civilians like many others do not expect to be a victim. Sometimes that might not be the case, and you have to be prepared to defend yourself. Following and practicing religiously these personal safety tips can help reduce your chances of being the next victim.

Becoming More Aware Of Your Surroundings
It is very amazing how criminals are able to gather a wealth of information about a potential victim just by observing their daily activities. When you prepare to go to work or run errands, be sure to take a glance all around you. Don’t just strictly walk to your car while you sing along to your favorite tune on your MP3 player. Constantly continue to look around while you are heading towards your car. When entering into a facility whether it is your job or supermarket; you should always try to learn the schematic of the facility. Look for exit signs, stairs, elevators, or anything that can be useful if an emergency arises and you need to escape. A little awareness of your surroundings can ensure your personal safety.

Use Defensive Gear You Currently Own
Criminal’s most reliable accomplice is men and women who do not use their defensive gear they currently own. What do I mean by that? People have a tendency to believe that leaving their car or home doors unlock is okay because no one will ever try to break in. These are the opportunities criminals search and wait for when they make their assault. Not using your personal defensive gear you paid for not only makes it useless; it endangers your personal safety. The next time you get out of your car; be sure to lock your doors and roll up your windows. Preparing to leave your home to run errands, set your security alarms and make sure everything including windows are locked. Taking the time to use the personal defensive gear you own will increase your chance of maintaining your personal safety and saving you a lot of hassle and money.

Develop A Personal Defensive Plan
Majority of us have a plan if there is a tornado in our community, a fire in our home, and/or even if we get a flat tire. Do you have a plan for your personal self-defense? If not, you need to stop what you are doing and immediately start working on a personal self-defense action plan. Of course we don’t wake up and expect to be in a life and death situation, but what would do if you were? Would you know how to respond? Would you be able to effectively use pepper spray, a stun gun, or another self defense product? What if someone you care about was in this situation and you were their only hope? These are a few tough questions you must ask yourselves because it could happen to you. Developing a customized personal defensive plan for you and/or your family is a blueprint on what needs to be done if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. A dog wants to attack you; the dog electronic repellant will interrupt any plans of you being bitten. You are jogging and someone is waiting to rob you; the pepper spray you carry in your pocket will bring your assailant down to their knees begging for mercy. No matter what personal self-defense plan you develop; be sure that it is relevant to your lifestyle, continue to review and update your plan, and most importantly rehearse your plan on a continuous basis.

Never Panic Or Hesitate
It is very difficult to suppress the emotions that pumps through your body when you are scared or caught completely by surprise, we’re human. Nevertheless, the ability to control panic when the situation seems like it is getting out of control can be a lifesaving personal defense. Panic is a powerful emotion that can cause us to make irrational decisions. To counter this effect, if you find yourself beginning to panic, take a deep breath and try to remain calm. The defense non-lethal gear you are carrying or the martial arts skills you possess becomes useless if you are not able to think. In conjunction to controlling your panic, when an opportunity presents itself be sure not to hesitate. In situations where a crime is in progress, you might only get one opportunity to use your non-lethal defensive weapon or perform a devastating pressure point move to render your assailant helpless. Rehearsing and simulating situations you have develop in your personal self-defense action plan can greatly reduce the chances of panic setting in if it occurs, and you not hesitating to act if the opportunity presents itself.

Follow Your Instincts
Have you ever listened to a story a random person told you, and you had that feeling that something doesn’t sound right or it feels wrong? This gut feeling or instincts can be the difference between maintain your personal safety or being a victim. Just like our teachers and parents told us time and time again, if you are sensing something is wrong, it usually is. Trusting and not doubting our instincts can make a world of a difference when it comes to personal safety.

Constantly Change Your Route
Robbers and kidnappers will watch your route for months to determine the times you go to work, when & where you go to lunch, errands, and so much more. This information is very vital when it comes down to developing a plan to victimize you. Never have a static and consistent schedule. Always take different routes to work, never be too trustworthy with everyone, and if you have children encourage them to take different routes as well. Being unpredictable and random makes it very difficult for anyone especially a criminal to develop a pattern in order to plan a heist or worst yet a kidnapping!

Get Informed
In this violent and dangerous world, it is imperative you take the time to become informed on different threats that can jeopardize your personal safety. Watching the news or reading the newspaper can give insight on new techniques and tactics criminals are using to exploit defensive gear. For instance, the news did a report on an old but effective technique that criminals are using to bypass locks on your home in seconds; it is called lock bumping. The principle behind lock bumping is that it is easy to make, very easy to learn, and will defeat 90% of residential locks. The remedy that was suggested to counter this serious threat is to invest in defensive security gear that is resistant to bumping. Learning the trade of criminals will help you develop an efficient personal self-defense plan that will counter these schemes.

Never Walk Alone
Kidnappings and assault rates has continued to climbed at a ferocious rate over the years, especially among women. Another fact about this trend is that these crimes usually take place when the victim is alone. A great deterrent of potential crimes and maintaining your personal safety is to never walk alone. If you are taking the subway, leaving school, or an event; make a strong effort to walk with someone or a group of friends. Living on campus and no one is available to walk with; contact campus security and they will make sure you get to your destination safely. Never be ashamed to ask someone to walk with you, especially if you have a feeling that your personal safety will be at risk. There is always safety in numbers.

Keep Valuable Items Hidden
On average, robbers spend less than 15 minutes looking for valuables to steal. In most scenarios, robbers are very successful because of the common places everyone tends to hide their precious belongings. Avoid hiding your valuables in these common places.

  1. Under Bed Mattress
  2. In Their Bedroom
  3. A Visible Safe
  4. In Your Pockets of Your Clothes
  5. Under the Sink
  6. Furniture Cushions

The best places to hide your valuables are locations where a robber won’t consider or won’t have time to search.

  1. In Your Yard
  2. Tampon Box
  3. Safe In Floor of Your Home
  4. Freezer
  5. Kid’s Toy

Purchasing a diversion safe is a powerful defensive gear in the war against thieves. These safes look like regular household items and are capable of hiding your precious contents whether it is jewelry or cash. Keep in mind, when you are looking for places to hide your valuables, do not store your contents in places or items that a robber considers valuable like paintings or electronics. The best place to hide your content is in plain sight!!

Buy Personal Self-Defense Gear
We always say the greatest personal defense against criminals is avoidance. Unfortunately, some of us find ourselves in this situation anyway. Do you have the tools required to deal with this threat? If not, you should consider purchasing self defense products that is capable of defending against human and animal attacks. Enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your personal defensive gear is by your side and ready to work for you if an assailant ever looks your way.

The Implications of Street Harassment on Personal Safety for Women

Public sexual harassment has a direct effect on reducing the personal safety of women and increasing their risk of sexual assault. The reasons for this is as follows:

1. Effect on Women as Targets of Harassment

A. Self-Worth – A major element to personal safety is directly related to the potential Target’s feeling of confidence and self-worth. When women’s feeling of self-worth are lowered by Street Harassment, they are at greater risk of being victimized

B. Intuition – Listening to your intuition is considered an extremely important aspect of personal safety. Intuition has a number of names; spider sense, threat alarm, sixth sense, inner voice, etc. Regardless of the name, responding to the warning of intuition is designed to warn people of impending danger. Upon receiving the warning, the person is supposed to either “flee” or “fight”. The problem is that the experience of numerous incidents of harassment has conditioned women to ignore their intuition.

It is neither practical nor advisable to “flee” from or “fight” every instance of harassment. Therefore, women learn to silence their intuition and endure the harassment. As a result, when faced with a real threat to personal safety, a woman may ignore her intuition believing that she is “merely” being harassed. This decreased ability to distinguish between Street Harassment and the prelude to an assault makes women greater risk of being victimized.

C. Vocal Assertiveness – The use of a laud and powerful voice to ward off an attacker is another cornerstone of personal safety. Harassment conditions women to be silent. Due to the implicit threat of violence that comes with harassment, women learn to ignore the behavior and not respond. They are afraid that if they respond with vocal indignation, they will escalate the situation into violence. Being conditioned to be silent to abuse puts women at greater risk of being victimized.

D. Situational Awareness – Being aware of one’s surroundings is thought to be the most effective means of personal safety. Awareness is a deterrent to assault. But the existence of harassment makes situational awareness ineffective. It is not possible to use awareness to avoid harassment. This behavior occurs regardless of if the woman is “aware” or not. In fact, a “conditioned” defense to harassment is the use of headsets to not hear comments, looking down to avoid eye contact, and other techniques to appear oblivious to the abusers in hopes of not catching their attention. These factors put women greater risk of being victimized.

E. Avoidance – Avoiding potentially dangerous situations is the complement to awareness. But it is impossible to avoid Street Harassment. Street Harassment by definition occurs in public places where women want and have a right to be. Constant exposure to harassing “conditions” women to believe that they are unable to avoid abuse. Therefore, avoidance as a concept of personal safety loses its value. This loss of confidence in avoidance puts woman at greater risk of being victimized.

F. Personal Space – The practice of maintaining a safety perimeter of no less than five feet is another important concept of personal safety. The concept is that by keeping strangers from bring in close proximity; a woman will have more time to respond to an attack. Street Harassment makes a mockery of this practice. Offenders are constantly breaking into this safety circle in order to get close to their Target. As a result of women’s inability to regularly maintain a safety circle and keep abusers at a distance, they are at greater risk of being victimized.

G. Conditioning – All of the preceding factors mentioned and more have the effect of lessening the women’s confidence in and ability to apply the concepts of personal safety. Because being subjected to harassment begins in for women in adolescence, women are in effect being operant conditioned over time to be targets of abuse. This conditioning makes women at greater risk of being victimized.

Personal Safety Equals Personal Responsibility

I want to tell you right up front that I am an active supporter of law enforcement, corrections and the security systems and industries. Like every other system in our great country, they have shortcomings and areas that could use updating, revamping or some form of modification. But given the laws that our public safety professionals are required to enforce and the guidelines and restrictions placed upon them while enforcing these laws, they do a wonderful job in my opinion.

Police cannot be everywhere and do everything however. We as citizens have a responsibility to not only respect and obey the laws set forth by the policy makers, but we are also ultimately responsible for taking reasonable and legal measures to protect ourselves, property and loved ones.

In regards to offenders of violent crimes, most can be attributed to three prime motivators. What I like to call the 3 R’s; Rape, Robbery and Rage. Try to think of a violent crime that cannot be traced back to one of the three. My experience in law enforcement, corrections and various public safety endeavors has shown that for criminals convicted of violent crimes, rage is a factor in only the lowest percentage. When I say rage, I mean rage as a primary motivator for the attempt or commission of the crime. Most criminals commit an offence not out of pure fury and rage, but because they did not think they would be caught. They thought they were smarter than the police or the opportunity at the time outweighed the risk.

We have little to no control over a potential offender’s intent (motivation) or their capability (resources, skill, strength, etc). But we have the majority of the control over their opportunity to commit a crime. Other than knowing that their motivation and a capability to commit an offense is present, there is nothing you or I as “Joe Citizen” can do to alter that. So we must concentrate on what we can control; their opportunity to make us a victim or our property a target.

It seems that each day and certainly too often we hear or read about someone who has been the victim of a violent crime. The statistics are evidence that there are people in this world who have little concern for your right to live your life unmolested. In truth, many criminals count on their legal rights to protect them while they are taking advantage of you. Therefore your personal safety and the safety of your family and loved ones should be a continuous, genuine concern.

Maybe you have never been victimized. Good for you! But a phrase I use regularly and you will often see is “while the likelihood is low…the possibility is 100%, everyday!”

Statistics show that each of us will be a victim of a violent crime sometime in our life. Many factors contribute to the likelihood of this occurring one or more times:

  • Where we live (high crime rate)
  • Occupation (does our job place us in danger?)
  • Lifestyle (do our activities take us to places and cause us to interact with potentially dangerous people?)

It is with these thoughts in mind that this and subsequent articles are designed to make you think about what “could” happen and to suggest steps you can take to avoid or prevent it from happening. It is not my intention to cause you to dwell on the ugly possibility, but only to consider certain aspects of your daily life, both at home and work.

  1. What could you change to lessen the likelihood of becoming a victim?
  2. What can you do should find yourself in a situation where you are an “imminent” victim or a “victim to be”?
  3. What can you do to increase your chances of survival?

Not every victim lives to tell about their ordeal. The survival rate for many of these victims could have been higher with only a slight change in habit, awareness and /or lifestyle.

A common theme you are likely to pick up on in this reading is “awareness”. Safety awareness is more than just knowing that the possibility of being attacked exists. It is more than accepting the fact that you should take precautions to protect yourself. What it is is mentally placing yourself on a sliding scale so that you can adjust your level of sensitivity to your environment to correspond appropriately with level of potential or likely threat. What it is NOT is worrying yourself to the point of mental or physical illness as a result of fear.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in almost 90% of the cases of assaults against women, she has some knowledge of who her attacker is (BLS, 2001). It may be someone she knows well, someone who knows her, a classmate, someone she has seen at various locations (grocery store, laundromat, bank, etc.)

As we go through our daily lives we tend to focus on people, things and activities that are important to us at that moment. Developing your security awareness requires that we learn when to focus on our safety.

Example:You’ve just left a restaurant with a date. Your attention and focus is likely to be on the good time you’ve had, enjoying the company of your date or anticipating the remainder of the evening. What you are NOT focusing on is the mugger loitering in the parking lot, the pan-handler walking in your direction or the young teenager who was recently inducted into the local street gang.

Developing security awareness is learning to give more consideration to thoughts of safety during those times when we are even slightly vulnerable or uncomfortable. Typically it’s when we’re walking alone, jogging alone or doing anything that isolates us.

Think of times you are at home with your family…

You are in the kitchen and you hear the front door open and close. You can probably tell by the sound of footsteps, chattering or other familiar noises if the person is your husband, wife or one of your children.

In the workplace we hear familiar noises and see things that are common to us. It’s when something unfamiliar is noticed that we look up to see what is going on.

But what if you are in unfamiliar surroundings where everyone and everything is strange to us? This is when we must be particularly aware of our surroundings.

Professionals who work in the public safety field are said to have acquired a “6th Sense” to alert them when something is not quite right. There is more to this than some people give credit. To assist in developing your 6th Sense, consider the Color Code.

WHITE

This is the mindset of a person who is day dreaming and not paying attention to their surroundings. In this condition it is easy to be attacked, and not see it coming. Often people will say I did not see that coming, or where did you come from. These are all indicators that they were in the WHITE ZONE.

YELLOW

This is the condition that is desired and it is possible to remain in condition YELLOW all day. In this mindset the mind is like radar, constantly searchingfor information about the world around us. Listening and looking, always alert. While in YELLOW we are more likely notice possible danger signs.

ORANGE

Having been in YELLOW we can more quickly notice something that is not right, or feel in our gut if something is wrong, some may call this experience, others sixth sense. No matter how it is described, it is a warning sign and we have to do something about it. This is the time to make a plan. Decide what our options are. Make a Decision based on all the information, or experience we have. Emotions, and changes in our bodies may start to occur, adrenaline may start to be produced and our heart rate will likely increase. Now is when we begin making plans along the lines of: ‘If they do that, I will do this.’

RED

In this mindset you begin to execute the actions you planned in ORANGE. It is all happening, but you have a plan and with a plan things can be better controlled.

Black

Black is when your senses have reached an overload. Panic and desperation are the overwhelming emotions. You shut down.

Because most attacks occur quickly and from a short distance, it is imperative that you stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t worry about what others may think because your safety is your first and most important concern. It is much better to suffer a little embarrassment than to ignore your intuition and suffer an attack as a result.

No matter if the attacker is a stranger or someone you are acquainted with, typically when men attack women their primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. Studies show us that criminals are adept at choosing targets that appear to be unaware of what’s going on around them. By being aware of your surroundings and by projecting a confident presence, many altercations can be avoided. They typically are not looking for a fight, they’re looking for someone they perceive to be a victim or easy target.

If you see something that appears to you as odd or suspicious, trust your instincts and take steps to distance yourself from the situation before an attack begins or to avoid it all together.

What if the unthinkable happens? A predator who demands that you go with him suddenly confronts you-be it in a car, an alley, or a building. NEVER go with them. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the attacker than if you run away (even if he promises not to hurt you).

Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window-do whatever you can to attract attention. If the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other.

If you lose your wallet or purse to a thief, what are your three primary concerns? (List them in order of importance)

  1. __________
  2. __________
  3. __________

No doubt the items listed are genuine and legitimate concerns, but now list the 3 primary concerns you may have if you choose to not cooperate or try to fight off the robber to prevent losing those items, again listing them in order of importance.

  1. __________
  2. __________
  3. __________

Now look at number 1 from both lists. Is number 1 from the first list worth suffering number 1 from the second list?

Everyone should keep a copy of all important account numbers, pin numbers, passwords, addresses, phone numbers, etc. Keep that list in a safe place in your home! The last thing you want to do is to let a material possession cause you possible physical danger! It’s not worth your life.

Crime occurs because of the availability of a target and because of the absence of a competent guardian. This is a fancy way of saying that many people are only as honest as their options. You can help keep people’s actions honest by removing their options. It really is your responsibility.