Personal Security Tips: How to Protect Yourself From the Unexpected

Personal Security…At this busiest time of year, many of us (and our female family members) are out and about enjoying the weather, exercising, shopping, and attending social events, and we are busy and preoccupied and not as aware as we should be of our surroundings and personal security. We hope that the following information will increase your awareness and help to protect you and your family members…

Don’t look vulnerable…One of the ways to avoid being a crime victim is not to look like a victim. A criminal is looking for the vulnerable, so don’t look vulnerable. Appear and BE alert to what is going on around you. Have your keys in your hand as you approach your car or your front door. Walk briskly, unencumbered by loads of packages, and don’t appear to be distracted. Walk as though you know where you are going. Women should have their handbag straps over their shoulders, not held loosely in their hands. Don’t wear headphones if you are walking outdoors. (If you absolutely MUST have music to walk or jog with, put only one earbud in one ear and use the other to hear what is going on around you!)

Let someone know your plans and when you will return….Even if you are going on a routine shopping trip, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. This is especially important for those who live alone. Being alone makes you a more enticing target in the criminal’s eyes, so try to go out with friends whenever possible and be sure that a friend or neighbor knows where you plan to go and when you plan to return. If a mishap or crime occurs, your absence will be noticed sooner rather than later.

Don’t trust the uniform….Don’t open the door just because the man outside has a package in his hand and is wearing a uniform. Answer the door FROM A WINDOW, and instruct him to leave the package on the doorstep for you. Likewise, whether at home or not, don’t automatically trust the person in the law enforcement uniform. It’s easy to obtain police uniforms and police identification badges and/or cards.

Phony sirens and flashing lights are just as easy to obtain, so don’t automatically pull over for a car equipped with such. If an unmarked car is flashing you to pull over, ALWAYS wait until you reach a well-lit, well-populated area. Even then, you can just roll down your window a few inches and ask to see photo identification. This may annoy an officer, but you can politely explain that you’ve been taught to be cautious, and it’s certainly better to annoy the police officer than to become a victim of a police impersonator.

At home….We keep repeating this, but ALWAYS answer your door without opening the door. Answer it from a nearby window and don’t open that door unless
you are certain about the identity of the visitor. As we have instructed before, ignoring that doorbell (or teaching your children to ignore it) can be extremely dangerous! You could be signaling a burglar that no one is at home and it’s a good time to break in.

Every family member should cultivate the habit of always locking windows and doors and always setting the burglar alarm. However, you also need to test your alarm frequently AND be sure that your telephone wires are not easily accessible to a criminal. As we constantly remind our customers, we will not receive your alarm signal if your phone wire has been cut! If there is even a remote possibility of this happening, call us for information on our “AES radio monitoring”, which will transmit your alarm signal without depending on your telephone line.

Perform a security inspection of the outside of your home or call us to do it for you! For a minimal fee, we can perform an extensive inspection and evaluation of
security risks existing, and provide you with a detailed list of recommendations ranging from exterior motion-activated lighting to securing that ladder on your neighbor’s property! Simply having your landscaper thin out shrubbery around your home’s windows and doors can lessen your chances of a criminal attempting to gain access.

In your car….Women especially need to be extremely cautious when driving and entering and leaving their vehicles. Always lock the car doors and keep your

windows up when you are alone. When you approach your car, have the car key ready in your hand, and check the back seat before you enter the car. Lock the door as soon as you are safely inside, and insert the ignition key immediately.

Once you begin driving, if you believe you have a flat tire, do not exit the vehicle. Use your cell phone to call a relative or friend. A common ruse is to actually deflate the tire of a parked vehicle and, when the woman gets out to look at the tire, the criminal either grabs her purse from the car seat or, worse, tries to assault or kidnap her.

Similarly, if your car is hit from behind, be aware that this could also be a criminal trying to force you out of your car. NEVER get out of your car if you are rear-
ended unless you are in a well-populated area.

When seeking a parking spot, always choose a well-lit, more populated area, or an area close to the building entrance even if you have to wait for such. Avoid parking structures especially at night, or have someone walk you to your car. It is always safer to valet park if possible.

At a party, bar or restaurant…Again, this applies more to our female family members, who are actually risking their lives, health, and safety by the simple act of placing their drink on the bar and turning away for a second to watch the big screen or the dance floor. If your eyes or your hands have been off that glass for any interval of time, you need to toss that drink. It’s just too easy for someone to slip a “date-rape” or similar drug into your glass with disastrous consequences. Parents need to constantly reinforce this with their young-adult daughters and all women need to be constantly aware of this risk and its consequences.

Similarly, when you are out partying with friends, be sure that you are watching out for each other and insist that you all leave together. Being responsible for each other

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