Sentry Force Security Services, LLC
|Posted on July 15, 2016 at 8:45 PM|
Staying Safe In Public
These days the media and the government seem to love to exploit any crimes perpetuated by those utilizing a gun. I do want to say at this point, by the FBI’s own crime statistics, that gun crimes are down the past couple of years in our country at rates lower than they have been in the past 50 years. If one were to simply look at the news headlines, or the heart-wrenching videos that make the television news, one would think that the United States had become something reminiscent of the old Wild West days. I could go into great detail here on my thoughts on the status of gun crime/gun ownership, etc., however I will forego that rant now and concentrate on ways that we can help keep ourselves from becoming a victim of crime as we go about our daily activities.
I believe the one and single most important thing we can do to help keep ourselves safe when we are out in public is to practice situational awareness. Situational awareness is observing and knowing what is going on around us. Taking notice of who is around us and what type of environmental hazards are close to us. Too many times I observe people who are totally clueless about who and what is going on around them. I think we focus too intently on our smartphones, and in the conversation with those people who are with us, and possibly just being too preoccupied thinking about the day to day problems in our lives, to take a few seconds to check out our surroundings. To help safeguard you and your loved ones when out in public, you must pay attention to your environment.
Be observant to who is around you. Is someone paying too much attention to you? Are they following you too closely? If you suspect that you are being targeted, change your direction. Does that person change direction with you? Head for a busy store or an area with lots of other people. Never use a deserted alley as a short cut. Also, stay away from the restrooms located down less traveled hallways at the mall. If looking for restrooms at the mall, choose to use the ones located within stores or restaurants.
Never let your hands/arms become too overloaded with packages. You need to be able to react quickly in the event that someone tries to grab you or tries to strike you. Being able to react quickly is very important. Also, how a person carries themselves is important. Walk with a confident air. Head up, not preoccupied with a smart phone, or lost in conversation. Pay attention to everyone and everything around you. When exiting the mall/store/etc. have your car keys already in hand. You don’t want to be distracted from your surroundings by digging in your purse or pocket for your car keys as you stand outside in the parking lot. Thugs look for people who will be an easy target and won’t put up too much of a fight.
If you are using a shopping cart or are pushing a baby stroller, don’t leave your purse or other valuables lying in plain sight where they can become an easy target for a would-be-thief to grab when your back is turned looking at something. A cross-body bag, a fanny pack or some other type of bag that is easy to keep on your person is a better choice. Carry only what you will need with you and leave things you won’t be using at home. That way if the unthinkable happens and your bag is stolen, you have less items to lose. Perhaps you only have to replace one credit card instead of three. Also, a bag that has zippers to secure your contents is much better at keeping your items safe than an open top bag which is easy for a thief to reach into when you are preoccupied.
Exercise caution when you are out in giving your address and other information out to strangers. We have all been to places where we put our name/address/phone number on a raffle ticket or something. We didn’t know these people and yet we just gave them a way to find us. Now in most cases, there is probably no real danger. However, if they see a couple together and they have your info, they know you aren’t home, so you could become a victim of a home break in. In addition, many places end up selling your contact information which at the least sets you up to be bombarded with lots of telemarketing calls and mail and at the worst can lead to identity theft. The word of caution here is to safeguard your personal info.
Carrying a weapon of some kind to protect yourself with is a personal choice. Some people carry nothing, some carry a chemical deterrent such as pepper spray, and some will carry a gun or a knife. If you choose to carry a weapon of some kind, be responsible and learn the correct way to use it and become proficient in its use.
Another simple tip to keeping yourself safe that people tend to forget about is locking your car doors as soon as you enter the vehicle. I always advise people to get in their vehicle, and lock the doors immediately before putting on their seatbelt or starting their car. It makes the chance of having an uninvited rider much less. Likewise, always look in your car before entering it, even if it was locked. Once again, you want to make sure that you have no unwanted guests in your car with you.
Before you go out, let a family member or someone you trust know where you are going and when you expect to be back. How many times has someone been unfortunate enough to have a car accident or experience a vehicle break-down along a desolate road and because no one knew where they went, it extends the time that it takes to find them.
You may be thinking to yourself at this point that all of the above tips are pretty simple and you would be right! However, as we go about our days, we tend to forget the simple habits we can adopt to help keep ourselves safer than we would be without them. How simple is to watch where we are walking, and yet how many times does someone fall because they didn’t see that curb or that uneven pavement because they were texting and walking? The answer is too many times! So be aware of your surroundings and be consistent in your observation and you will remain safer when you are out in public.
Until next time, be vigilant and stay safe!