When we think of self-defense, we often think of using martial arts, weapons, or other strategies to ward off attackers. However, the very concept behind self-protection starts with becoming acutely aware of your surroundings—the way you carry yourself, think, dress, and walk. It is a habit of mind. Often we can avoid potentially dangerous situations by changing our daily habits.
We are the most vulnerable for assault and robberies during transitions, or times where we are going from one place to another such as from the parking lot to the car, taking out the trash, unloading groceries, or jogging down the road. These transitions are necessary parts of life, but increase our risks for if we do not take precautionary measures during our daily routines. There are things you can do to reduce your risk of an attack. Walking with others or with an umbrella, dog, or a child will decrease your risk, and looking alert and constantly looking around at your surroundings will keep you from looking like a victim.
Avoiding violent crimes:
- Avoid remaining alone in laundry rooms of apartments, parking garages, or other places stalkers can hide.
- Do not accept rides from strangers or someone you just met.
- Use initials instead of first names on mailboxes and phone book listings.
- Avoid carrying valuable items or large amounts of money
- Always think ahead—have keys ready before you find your car
- Do not use ATM machines late at night or not in a well-lit area. SCAN the area for anyone lurking in the parking lot before getting out of your car.
- Hold a purse close to your body. Do not wrap the straps around your wrists—you could get hurt in a struggle.
- Do not use shortcuts walking alone through dark alleys, fields, or vacant lots
- If you carry self-protection products, be sure to have them ready just as you would have your keys ready for your car. Stay alert and prepared!
What do burglars look for? How to avoid a home burglary:
- Burglars look for an invitation and a convenient, undetected entry and exit.
- Don’t let newspapers pile up at your front door or mail pile up in the mailbox
- Keep yards maintained
- Keys left in vehicle
- Dark areas to hide in surrounding areas of house/dwelling
- Notes on your exterior door of where you have gone
- Spare house key on top of the door jam
- Open garage doors
- House consistently unlit night after night
- Shrubbery in front of a window
- Exterior door without a deadbolt lock
Remaining safe in your car—avoid a carjacking:
- Always park in well-lit areas
- Use valet when possible
- Be alert and suspicious of people sitting in cars
- Change direction if you are approached
- Approaching your vehicle, look in, around, and under your car
- Lock the doors once you are inside your vehicle!
- Drive with doors locked and windows rolled up
- If you are rear-ended in traffic and feel suspicious of the driver, wave to follow and drive to a gas station or busy place before getting out.
- If confronted, give up money and keys without resistance
- Never agree to be kidnapped—get out and run and scream for help
Avoiding potentially dangerous situations is half the battle in avoiding an attack or robbery. By remaining alert and prepared during daily routines, we can decrease our risks of attack. For additional resources on alertness and protection, take a look at the reference sites below.