I attended a meeting once in which the focus was on being aware and prepared, in general. I hadn’t expected much from this gathering, as I hadn’t attended any events hosted by this group before. But before I knew it, I found myself whipping out my mobile and taking notes on (unimaginatively) the Notes App.
Because I get restless when I don’t sleep, I resort to strange behaviors like actually reviewing the archived information I had emailed to myself last September while my previous mobile was locked into a downward tailspin and I found myself scrambling to move data as the inevitability of having to get a new phone loomed large.
I’m feeling especially helpful today, so I thought I’d share what I learned, Public Service Announcement-style, so that all who see this (an average of about 20 awesome people lol (wink)) can benefit.
Here it is…
Get 2 ladders – one for the deck storage and one for the garage. That way, you can get up into your second floor apartment if you get locked out. This also gives you an escape route in case of front door blocked.
Put lamps/lights on timers.
Clear all mail, packages, flyers, etc from your door/front porch; otherwise a crook may think you’re not home. Have a neighbor or friend do this for you when you go on vacation.
Closet shelter supplies (tornado, home invasion where you have to hide…)
- Flashlight and batteries
- Cell phone with charger
- Water and snacks
- Multiple defense weapons (long- and short-range firearms, switchblade knife). And know how to use them (safely!!) and how to retain them so they can’t be taken from you and used against you!
If someone appears at your door, claiming to need to use the phone:
Offer to write down the details and make the call for help for them, while they wait outside. (And lock the door! If they’re a good citizen, they’ll understand.
Out and About:
The same caution applies to the highway: if you pull over to help a stranded motorist, offer to make a call for help for them; open the window only a crack to talk to them. Keep all vehicle doors locked and stay inside your vehicle.
Beware people with a map, claiming to ask for help; it’s a good way to try to get close to you. The map gives the (potentially false) impression that they’re genuine, and it also provides a way to distract you. It also provides a cover for a weapon in their hand, hiding it from your view.
The same thing applies in a parking lot or on a street, in the case of someone saying they need help with directions. Always remain a good distance from their car and their reach.
Someone lifting something heavy into their vehicle: offer to call for help, remaining further away yourself.
People asking for a dollar; you have to get close to them and you had to get your purse or wallet. To do this, you’d have to look away from them momentarily, to locate the item containing your money. The person could seize that opportunity (while you’re distracted) to pounce, and they can also easily access your money and anything else in your purse, wallet, or pocket, such as your credit card or picture ID with your address.
Book: “Blink” (looking for things that don’t seem to fit normal patterns?). Pay extra attention when things don’t fit the pattern. Lights out that are usually on, unfamiliar cars, someone looking at their engine without actually doing anything, etc. Anything that seems odd or out of place.
When using elevators in hotels, push several floors, not just the one you’re on. That way they don’t know what floor you’re on. Use caution when getting in elevators that have one man, especially without suitcase, or conference tag, appropriate dress that matches the venue, etc. Peer nonchalantly into the elevator and scan the whole space to check for people who appear to be hiding (behind the corners immediately behind the door).
If pulled over in a dark remote area, don’t assume that red and blue lights are automatically a cop, even if the car is a police/squad car (because criminals can–and do–hijack police cars!). Call 911 (state that it’s not necessarily an emergency but that it is a time-sensitive and potentially concerning situation). Tell them you want to ensure that the squad car behind you is one of theirs. If so, ask if you can go somewhere with better lighting. If no, then it’s ok to stop. (You don’t have much choice, but at least you’ve verified that the driver of the police car behind you is a legitimate officer.)
Keep one arm free when out and about; don’t carry so many things that you couldn’t defend yourself.
When approaching your vehicle in a parking lot at night, check under the vehicle for anyone lying there in wait. As the legend goes, someone with a switchblade could be lying underneath, waiting for you to approach and unlock your vehicle. The story goes that the criminal would pounce at that point, perhaps cut your ankle with their knife, taking you down, and giving them access to your vehicle, keys, and purse or wallet (here, again, with your money, credit cards, and ID with address). When unlocking your vehicle, stand an extra foot or two away so that you would have a little extra room to see and move.
I reckon that the same caution applies at home if there is space for anyone to hide under a step in front of the front door, such as a mobile home or RV camper.
When walking at night, carry your keys arranged between your fingers like spikes. Always be aware of your surroundings, all 360 degrees. Don’t strut, but don’t hunch; walk with an even confidence.
I also learned in martial arts class to yell “hi-yah!” and even if you don’t know a lot of karate moves, act like you do. The attacker just might think one of two things:
- That you’re clinically insane, and/or
- That you’re trained in martial arts.
Either way, they may not want to mess with you. It might not save you, as there’s always a chance that they might take their chances, but it could offer an escape from some situations.
I’d also like to share a personal story…
Typically, I feel very safe on the grounds of our apartment complex. However, one night, I was walking around talking on my mobile with a friend, when this guy tried to get my attention.
Between talking with my friend with my earbuds plugged into my mobile and the fact that I have crappy hearing, I didn’t hear him right away. (Oops!!). It also didn’t help that he wasn’t speaking clearly.
Once I realized that the man was indeed talking to me, I asked my friend to hang on and I removed an earbud to hear him better. He still wasn’t very clear, but then I noticed that he was motioning to the open passenger door of a parked SUV.
He was also getting a little too close for my comfort. (Boundaries!)
I had to ask him to repeat himself several times, and when I finally understood him, I realized that he was asking me if the SUV with the open door was mine.
Now, in all probability, he was simply a Good Samaritan, wanting to alert me to the open door before I went inside my apartment so that no one could access the vehicle and/or the battery wouldn’t run dead from the dome light inside the vehicle being on all night.
It’s also possible that the SUV belonged to the man himself, and he was trying to get close enough to me to grab me and push me into that already-open door for the purpose of kidnapping me and/or doing heaven-knows-what with me.
I didn’t let myself find out. As he advanced toward me, I backed up proportionally, to maintain a consistent distance, out of his arm’s reach. I politely-but-firmly advised him that no, that wasn’t my vehicle, but that I appreciated his asking. And then I promptly left the area and went inside, and I told my partner, who called our apartment security (who is an off-duty police officer). Either way, the issue needed attention; either this guy was up to no good, or he was genuine and the owner of the vehicle needed to be located.
Not every person is a criminal, and there is not a boogeyman hiding in every bush, nor underneath every vehicle.