A Common Sense Approach
- Know that a danger could exist and never forget it;
- Admit to yourself that you could become a victim;
- Have a plan. Know what you will do if a dangerous situation comes up;
- Be determined not to ‘freeze up’;
- Be suspicious; and
- Trust your good judgement. Common sense is the best protection.
When you go out alone
If you are not comfortable going somewhere alone, plan ahead with safety in mind. Here are some suggestions:
- Try to take a bus or taxi;
- Arrange to walk with or meet a friend or co-worker;
- Whenever you can, call ahead and let someone know when you expect to arrive;
- Travel on well lighted, busy streets;
- Don’t take shortcuts;
- Always carry coins in your wallet or pockets for an emergency phone call to a friend or relative;
- Always know where you are and where you are going;
- Don’t allow a stranger to follow you home to an empty house;
- Have your house keys ready before you reach your front door. A strip of adhesive tape around the top of your house key will make it easy to find, even in the dark; and
- Remember an area is not safe simply because you are familiar with it.
If you know you are being followed by a pedestrian
- Cross the street;
- Don’t try to figure out if someone is following you by turning down an alley or dark side street;
- Go directly to the nearest well lighted business and call the police. If there is no open business nearby, stop in a phone booth and call the police;
- If you are in a phone booth and the person following approaches, drop to the floor of the booth, let the receiver drop, push your back against the door, and speak loudly and clearly toward the receiver;
- Remember to phone 911 for any emergency. You do not need any money at a pay phone; and
- Wait in the phone booth until the police get there.
If you are followed by a vehicle
- Do not go home;
- Turn and walk in the opposite direction. The driver will have to turn around and drive on the other side of the street to keep following you;
- Get the license number and write it down . If necessary, write it on the sidewalk.never try to outrun a vehicle. Change directions whenever necessary. Remember: you can make a U-turn faster than a vehicle can;
- Seek help at a place of business or residence;
- Drive to the nearest police station or open business. Report the problem to the police; and
- Do not allow another car to force you to the side of the road. A dented fender can be replaced, but you can’t.
When you arrive at your destination
- Park in a well lighted spot as near as possible to where you are going;
- Look around for people before leaving your car;
- If you must leave your key in the vehicle when parking in an attended lot, remove it from the key ring and take all other keys with you;
- Lock the registration slip in the glove compartment. If the glove box does not lock, take the registration documents with you;
- Lock your car;
- When you get home, keep the headlights on until the garage door is open and the car is parked;
- Be particularly alert when going into the apartment, house, basement or garage. If you can, have someone meet you; and
- Good lighting around your garage and front entry is always a good security measure.
If your car breaks down in an isolated area
- Raise the hood;
- Sit inside the car with the doors locked until help arrives;
- Leave the windows up while you talk to whoever comes near. It may be safer to stay in your car than to go with strangers to get help;
- If someone comes up to your car, ask them to phone the police or a tow truck etc. and wait in your car; and
- Remember that freeways are constantly patrolled.
Personal safety at home
Keep your home secured at all times:
- Change the door locks after moving into a new house or apartment. Friends and neighbors of people who lived there before may have keys to your door. Deadbolt locks with security trim are safest;
- Install and use a peephole in your front door. Never open your door to a stranger;
- Keep windows locked. Window locks can be installed cheaply, and they let the window open only a few inches to let air in;
- Keeps drapes and window shades closed after dark;
- Leave lights on in two or more rooms to show that people are home. Leaving a bathroom light on is recommended. A well lighted home keeps unwanted intruders away;
- When a stranger asks to use your telephone, do not let him into your house. Offer to call emergency help for him;
- Be extremely careful about letting strangers into your home;
- Police officers wanting into your home will show you their I.D. whenever asked. Check it carefully; and
- Always ask salesmen and repair men to show you their ID. Before letting them in, call their business to make sure they are supposed to be there. Use the phone book, not a number they give you. (It could be phoney.)
Be suspicious of visits by people you didn’t call
- Building inspectors;
- Census takers;
- Telephone inspectors;
- Tax assessors;
- ASK FOR IDENTIFICATION;
- Don’t trust a stranger just because he looks like he is who he says he is; and
- Be alert to protect your neighbors as well as yourself. Never mention to a stranger that a neighbour is away, lives alone, or is home alone.
If you think a prowler is outside your home
- Stay inside;
- Turn on your lights;
- Do not call out to him; and
- Phone the police right away. Tell them about the problem firmly, slowly and clearly.
If a prowler gets into your home
- Get out through another door or window if possible; and
- Call the police right away, from a safe place.
If you are trapped by an intruder inside your home
- If he wants to steal something, let him; and
- Do whatever you need to do to defend yourself if you are physically attacked.
NOTE: Guns are dangerous. If you don’t know how to use them properly, they can be taken away from you and used against you. NEVER shoot at someone outside your home. He could be your neighbor or a member of your own family.
Remember that your telephone is for your use
- Use it on your own terms. Never give your number, name or address to a caller you do not know. Don’t admit you are alone;
- Do not keep talking to persons you don’t know. Hang up;
- Report unusual or suspicious phone calls to the police; and
- Be cautious about going into an apartment house elevator with suspicious persons. It is wiser to wait in the lobby for a few minutes.
If you are caught by a dangerous but unarmed assailant and can’t get away
- Stall for time by talking to him; try to interrupt his thoughts.
You sometimes have to put up with small inconveniences to keep yourself safe. These inconveniences at home, out driving and walking, are generally very small compared to being attacked or becoming a victim of crime. Using the common sense rules mentioned here will cut down your chances of becoming a victim.
Always trust your instincts – If something feels strange or bad to you, it is. Act to protect yourself.