I don’t know about you all, but I have been glued to CNN lately watching coverage of the 3 women who were kidnapped and held hostage for over a decade. Their daring escape and strength are remarkable and inspiring. It got me to thinking that as a woman there are times when I am vulnerable and should be more alert of my surroundings. Times when I am leaving a store at night walking to my car, walking the dog by myself, or even at home when I am alone. I wouldn’t wish what happened to those young women on anyone so here are some helpful tips provided by Cosmo that I want to share with everyone.
You can never be too safe.
1. If walking by yourself, get off your cell phone. A lot of people think that being on the phone is safe because the person on the other line can call 911, but that rarely works out. Chatting can distract you; it’s better to be aware of your surroundings. That said…
2. If walking by yourself, hold your cell phone and be ready to make an emergency call. Many phones now have a button on the screen to dial 911 immediately. Go one step further and preset one of the buttons on your phone to call the emergency number.
3. Look underneath your car before approaching it in a parking garage or lot at night.
4. If you return to your car and see that a van is parked right next to the driver’s side, enter through the passenger side. Predators often use vans and will disguise it as a family car, even using “Baby on Board” decals.
5. You return to your car and it has a flat tire. Back away. Return to wherever you came from (restaurant, store, etc) and call for help. Once assistance arrives, approach your car. If someone comes up to you (even if they are a woman) and wants to offer help, politely say, “No thank you.” If a man, he could be a predator. If a woman, she could be the lurer.
6. When leaving the mall late at night, ask a security guard to walk you to your car. Do not go up to just any security guard. Go directly to the kiosk and ask for them to assign an officer to escort you. Predators sometimes dress up like men of the law.
7. When the pharmacist asks you to confirm your home address, whisper it to them. Broadcasting your home address among strangers on the line could compromise your safety.
8. Ditto if you’re checking in to a hotel room. If the person at the front desk says your room number out loud, ask them to give you a new room and write the number on a piece of paper. Or when you check-in, ask upfront that they not say your room number out loud. Your room number should be your business only.
9. Before entering your hotel room, make sure no one is lingering in the hallway.
10. Always immediately lock your hotel room door after you enter.
11. When traveling, do not walk with your map in your hand. It is a dead giveaway that you are a tourist. Therefore, you are an easy target.
12. If you call for room service, and you get a knock on your door, do not immediately open. Ask: “Who is it?” Make the person on the other side of the door tell you who they are before you open it.
13. When asking for directions and someone offers to show you the way by having you follow them, do not go. Just ask for them to point you in the right direction. Often, predators just want to get you to a place less crowded where your screams can’t be heard.
14. If someone tries to grab you, twist your arm up and down and yell, “Stop!” Do anything you can to draw attention to yourself.
15. Always pour your own drink at a party and bring it with you everywhere…even to the bathroom. This will make it a lot harder for someone to drug you via you drink.
16. Watch the bartender as he or she pours your drink. To be extra safe, drink wine instead of a cocktail. Mixed drinks take longer to make. You could be easily distracted and miss the bartender (who could be working with the predator) or someone else slipping something into your drink.
17. When going out with your girlfriends, decide beforehand that you will stick together. Do not let your friend go off alone with a guy.
18. Don’t put your name on your apartment buzzer. If you’re expecting guests, just let them know which number to push. This way, only people who know you know exactly where you live.
19. If someone is chasing after you, run away in a zig zag pattern. This will exhaust your attacker.
20. Don’t check-in on Foursquare or Facebook when you arrive somewhere. Instead, check in as you leave. This way no one will be able to digitally stalk you and know your every move or when you’re not home. Along the same lines, avoid tweeting or Facebooking from vacation, especially if your account is public, as it’s a way of letting the world know that your home is unoccupied.
21. When you move into a new place, check your smoke detector for a hidden camera. Your landlord could be spying on you.