Personal Safety – What’s Your Strategy?

A couple of recent incidents have reminded me that, much to my dismay, the world is not all sunshine and butterflies.

A friend was recently the victim of theft. Luckily neither she nor her family were ever in physical danger, and her property was recovered. And not too long ago, a gentleman decided to hang out in one of the semi-private ladies rooms in the building in which I work. An employee in the building reported the man and he was arrested. We now have keypad locks on the ladies room doors.

Sadly, there are folks out there who have an agenda that may include (1) robbing you, or (2) assaulting and/or exploiting you in some way.  Sometimes the later happens because you’re in the way of the former.

We likely all have some idea of what personal safety looks like, have read up on it, or have watched something on TV. We are all educated at various levels on the topic, but there’s no time like the present for a little personal safety discussion.

I do pretty well to identify and avoid potentially dangerous situations. I have no problem taking a different route or asking someone to walk me to my vehicle when I get the feeling that something is amiss. What I’m guilty of is not reporting suspicious behavior to the proper authorities. I’m not sure why I lack that resolve to tell the security guard or officer “That person did _____________. It seems really odd.” I’m not saying we need to report every behavior that doesn’t mimic our own, but you know that feeling when someone is up to something. Reporting suspicious incidents is key to prevention.

For example, a few years ago I went to work on a Saturday. Our elevators are coded after hours and on weekends, which means unless you know the code, the elevator won’t go anywhere. I noticed a gentleman in the elevator lobby just standing there. I pressed the call button, and he immediately got on the elevator. I did not. The doors closed and opened again with him still there. That told me he didn’t have a code. After this happened a second time, I asked him if he needed assistance (I wasn’t about to get on the elevator with him). He said no, he was waiting for a friend and that he would go wait in the lower lobby. He walked away, and when I could see he was definitely gone, I got on the elevator and went safely to my coded floor.

Yes, I may have avoided a dangerous situation. Or maybe he was an innocent person just burning time until his friend arrived. I’ll never know for sure what his intentions were, and I’m okay with that. But, what I should have done was alert the security guard in our building and I never thought to do that! I often think about that and hope a criminal didn’t walk away because I didn’t report suspicious activity.

So how do we stay safe?  There are lists upon lists of tips on the National Crime Prevention Council site. Some of which include:

  • Don’t jog or walk early in the morning or late at night
  • When out at night, walk with a friend
  • Always lock your car (even at home)
  • Have your key ready when walking to your car
  • Do everything you can to keep a stranger from getting into your car or to keep a stranger from forcing you into their car
  • If you are being robbed, hand over your property; your wallet or purse is much less valuable than your life

We should all practice, or be ready to practice, these behaviors all of the time. Criminals are no joke, and when it hits close to home (a friend being robbed and a strange man in the ladies room) it’s a scary reminder of just that.

Personally, I think it’s a good idea to get some self defense training. I studied karate for about a year and a half, and certainly self defense was a large part of that. There are tons of classes available for self defense, and more specifically self defense for women.

Some of you might chuckle at the thought of a self defense class because you don’t see yourself as the “fighting type.” Self defense does not necessarily mean fighting, it also involves creating a moment for escape. In my classes at Bushido Karate Shotokan & Fitness, I learned several techniques to free myself from various holds or attacks. I’m a petite lady, and I hope and pray I am never the victim of a violent crime, but if I am, I feel I have a better chance of getting away from my attacker than I did prior to my training. I highly recommend some type of self defense training.

Yep, that’s me!

Feel free to comment and share some of your own safety tips – for ourselves, children, the elderly, for the home, and when traveling too. Hopefully, none of us will ever need it, but better to be prepared than not. Let’s all stay safe out there!