In a world of work deadlines, interviews and parking lots, it’s easy to get sucked into your thoughts. “I have to pick up the kids”, “I have to get these reports that are due in Mr. Smith’s office”, or “I have a late meeting to get to attend” are all things that fill our heads at any given time. With all of this going on, it’s easy to forget that danger lurks. There are people out there counting on the fact that you are too busy and too distracted handling other business to know what’s going on around you. Now, that is not to say that you should be paranoid, because it’s not like there is an evil clown waiting on you in the copy room. But we do want to give you some things to keep in mind while you’re going about your work day!
- Pay Attention. It cannot be stressed enough that prevention is worth 20 pounds of cure! If you’re in an unfamiliar setting, take the time to look around and see where everything is located. Is the area well kept? Are there a lot of dark spaces or large objects? Is there a fire exit plan? Taking the time to peruse your area allows you to identify trouble spots or places that you could run to if you needed to get away in a hurry. Forcing yourself to be aware will not only keep you safe, it’ll make you more efficient. After all, who doesn’t need to know where the break room is?
- No Lollygagging. So you take the trouble to rush through your work day to start your 3- day weekend. You hurdle over small children to get to the elevator. Those two old ladies you pushed over on your way down the stairs are now glaring up at you from the third step where you left them. You go through all of this trouble just to sit in your car and check out your phone. Checking your email, applying makeup, checking items off your PDA are all things that take your attention off your surroundings and leave you vulnerable to attacks. Three out of every ten carjackings happen while the driver in question is sitting in their car distracted. Just be aware!
- Check Your Car. Sometimes in our haste to get to and from various places, we don’t use the safest methods of getting there. Before you even get into your car, look into the back seat, around, and under your car. Have things been moved around? Was the neatly folded blanket you left in the car on the seat now suddenly spread out over the back? Is there a suspicious shadow near the front of the car? Is there a suspicious van parked on the passenger side of your vehicle? These are all red alerts that something about the situation is off. If it’s late, do you have Security walk you to your vehicle? Never feel that you are bothering someone by asking them to walk you to your car. Think about how they would feel if you didn’t ask for help and something happened to you. Be accepting of help!
- Be Careful Who You Talk To. It’s okay to say hello to people and smile. No one is asking you not to be friendly. But if you are in an unfamiliar place or if your work place is located in an area that has had some trouble, then, stopping to give the little overall-clad street urchin $5 because he lost his dog can be a recipe for problems. You could get mugged. Does everyone have to know that every Thursday you are at Pattie’s Nail Heaven getting a manicure done at 3:00 o’clock? You and your new nails could be snatched up. Is someone asking you, “What time is it?” If you are confident that the person asking is genuine, then, there is no harm in helping, but if you have to go into your purse or pocket to dig for your phone, then just say no. It’s a distraction you might not walk away from unscathed. Just be careful!
- Little Things Count. When you walk out of your building, are your keys in your hand ready to go? The time it took to have your keys out saves you time in getting into your car and going home. Does your phone or key ring have a flashlight on it in case you drop them in the dark? Did you let security know you were leaving the building? Security can only work with the information that they have. How will they know to look for you if they didn’t know you were even in the building, let alone gone? These are things that could save your life or keep you from getting hurt. Another tip about keys in your hand is that before you walk out of the building, place your keys in your hand with a key sticking up out of your closed fist (between your fingers). In other words, create a weapon to use in case someone tries to attack you. Go for the eyes if you can!
- Take a Basic Self-Defense Course. Basic self-defense is just that. It’s designed so that you can get away and get help, emphasis on you getting away! It’s not for you to pretend you’re Bruce Lee and Judo chop every random mugger that happens by as if you’re Austin Powers. By taking a defense course, it will make you aware that you are not helpless if a situation arises. They will tell you what’s safe for you to legally carry. They explain ways of getting out of an attacker’s grip to get somewhere to call the police. They take you through steps to keep from panicking. Remember the best defense is a good offense. By going through the steps, it puts it in your muscle memory and your body will take over in a crisis helping to get you out of a bad situation, again emphasis on getting you out of a situation and calling for the police.
Remember the best thing that you can do is to get away. If you have to choose between fight and flight, chose flight. Don’t forget to scream or shout for help. The more attention you draw to an issue, the faster it will be resolved.
Once again, no one should be afraid of getting out there and meeting people or going to work. But with just a little awareness, you can keep yourself safe, and keep your family from being hurt if something happens. Criminals are not going to take on someone they feel will be a problem. If you don’t make yourself a mark you are less likely to become one! And if you don’t make it easy for a criminal by being compliant and doing everything they ask, they won’t take the time to carry out their dirty deeds. Beware! △