Introduction

One of the best things you can do for your personal security is to learn Martial Arts.This form of protection is with you 24 hours a day. But beware. You would need to aim at at least Brown Belt status because below this grade you may have false confidence.

Fintan Lynch, B.E.,Eng-i, Former Security Consultant.

All activities (driving a car, filling the bathtub, walking through the parking lot at night) entail some risk. We all have different attitudes toward risk. At one end of the scale is refusing to engage in an activity by exaggerating the risk involved. At the other end is engaging in very risky activities while refusing to take any precautions. Neither of these attitudes are useful for living an empowered life. What is useful is to accurately assess the risks involved, take whatever precautions make sense, and live as fully as possible.
I would like to hear your comments on which of these guidelines you follow and whether they make sense in your cultural/gender context. Following these guidelines will not guarantee your safety, but will minimize your availability to an assailant.


GENERAL

Create a safety plan.

Listen to and act on your intuition. It's better to be safe and risk a little embarrassment, than stay in an uncomfortable situation that may be unsafe.
If you are in danger or being attacked and want to get help, yell "Call the Police" or give specific directions to onlookers; for example: "You! Get the police!" or "Walk me to the store on the corner, I'm being followed."
Have your keys ready when approaching your car or building.
Vary your routine: drive or walk different routes every day.
If you suspect that someone is following you, by foot or in a car, don't go home (or they will know where you live). Go to a trusted neighbor or to a public place to call police, or directly to police station.
Do not label keys with your name or any identification.
Don't talk about your social life or vacation plans where strangers can overhear you.
Always carry enough change for a telephone call.

IN YOUR HOME

Have lights in all entrances.
Have good locks on all doors and windows.
Do not use your full name on your mailbox or in the phone directory, or on your answering machine.
Do not leave a schedule of your times away from home on your answering machine.
If you live alone, do not let strangers know. Invent a roommate or big dog.
Know which of your neighbors you can trust in an emergency.
Check who is at the door before opening it, and do not open the door to an unexpected visitor.
Don't hide extra keys in easily accessible places. Criminals will find them.
Ask for photo identification of all repair persons, etc. If you are still suspicious, call to verify employment.
Never give personal information to telephone solicitors.
Consider creating a "safe room" with a separate telephone line or cellular phone, and strong locks. If someone breaks in, you can retreat there (with children) and call for help.
Do not let strangers into your home to use the phone. Offer to make the call for them.

ON THE STREET

Don't hitchhike.
Be very careful using outside ATMs at night or in unfamiliar surroundings.
When on the street, walk facing oncoming traffic. It will be harder for someone to pull you into a car and abduct you.
Tell someone where you'll be and what time you're supposed to return, or if you will be with someone you don't know well.
Try to not overload yourself with packages. If you must have your hands full, visualize how you would respond if approached, how you would get your hands free, etc.
Do not wear music headphones while walking or jogging.
Do not read while walking or standing on the street.
If you wear a purse with a shoulder strap, be prepared to let it go if snatched. Otherwise you may be hurt if the mugger knocks you down and drags you. while fleeing with your purse.
If someone asks you for directions, and if you choose to reply, remain at least two arms lengths away.
Clogs, high heels, and tight skirts are hard to run and fight in. Capes, scarves, and long necklaces are easy to grab. Modify your fashion style, orwear comfortable clothing when walking alone (change into dress-up clothes later), or think through how you would fight in your dress-up clothes (for example, kicking off your high heels or hiking your skirt up around your hips before starting to run or kick)
Avoid being on the street alone if you are upset or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or have someone go with you.
When dropping someone off at their home, make sure they are safely inside before driving away. Have them do the same for you.

IN A CAR

Check the inside and around your car before entering to insure that no one is hiding there.
Check your surroundings before getting out of your car.
Don't pick up hitchhikers
Keep doors locked and windows rolled up so that a hand can't reach in.
if a group of suspicious people approaches you when you are stopped at a red light at a deserted intersection, run the light if your intuition tells you that the situation could get dangerous.
Don't let gas indicator fall below 1/4.
Plan your route and check a map before you start out.
Park in well-lighted, heavily traveled areas if possible.
Try not to park next to a van, as you can be pulled in through the sliding door.
Don't leave valuables in plain sight inside your car.
Give only ignition key to attendant.
If you see an accident or stranded motorist, report it from the nearest telephone instead of stopping.
Carry in your car:
flashlight, flares, fix-a-flat, maps, comfortable warm clothing, first aid kit, empty gas can, white cloth to tie to antenna to signal distress, cellular phone.
Learn basic auto maintenance.

ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Beware overheard conversations. Do not tell anyone on the bus or subway where you are going.
Stay awake and alert.
Have exact change ready.
Try to sit near the driver.
If you sense someone is following you when you get off, walk toward a populated area. Do not walk directly home.

AT THE OFFICE

Don't leave your keys lying about
Notify security personnel if you notice suspicious persons or vehicles, especially after normal working hours.
Be extra careful in stairwells and isolated or poorly-lighted restrooms.
In an elevator stand near the controls and locate the emergency button.
Do not get in an elevator with someone who looks suspicious to you.
Know your co-workers and look out for each other.
At every phone: Emergency numbers for security, police, fire departments, and list of employees who are trained in CPR or first aid.

DEFENSE AGAINST DOGS

When confronted by a threatening dog, our impulse is often to turn and run - the worst response, since movement triggers the chase instinct in dogs.
Stand very still and try to be calm.
Dont scream at the dog and run.
Be aware of where the dog is. Look in its general direction, but dont stare into its eyes. This is considered an aggressive challenge.
Let the dog sniff you.
In a low voice say, "No! Go home!"
Stay still until the dog leaves.
Back away slowly until it's out of sight.
If a dog does attack, try to "feed" it your workout jacket, bike equipment (briefcase, purse) to distract the dog while you back slowly away towards safety.
If you are knocked down or fall, curl into a ball and keep your hands over your ears, face, and neck. Try not to scream or roll around.

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General Personal Security Advice

By Fintan Lynch