Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guide to Personal Safety

The Block Watch logo. Photo courtesy: blockwatch New Westminster police

I have just gone to a block watch meeting as a volunteer co-captain. For those who aren't aware, block watch is a volunteer program for neighbours to report crime to the police and their local block watch to reduce crime in their area. One of the handouts I received was about personal safety. I am reprinting it here as the tips can be used by anyone, anywhere in the world, in any type of housing. Please read and implement these tips in your day-to-day living. Be safe, friends.

Personal safety is an important consideration for everyone regardless of age, gender or ability.

Be aware!! Whether at home, in your car or walking in your neighbourhood, awareness is the best protection against crime. Know your surroundings; and, be prepared for anything that may put you at risk.

Project Strength! Criminals often target groups or individuals who appear vulnerable. Walk with confidence and purpose. Keep your head up and observe your surroundings including people in the area, businesses and sources of assistance. Don't appear to be confused or lost.

Safety on the Street: Plan your route to avoid isolated areas (even if it is a really good shortcut). Be alert and sure of yourself. If you believe you are being followed, cross the street, go to the nearest group of people or business and call the police. Don't overburden yourself with heavy parcels (think Christmas time) or a bulky purse. Use a money belt or pouch to conceal money and important documents. Don't display cash in public. Walk near the curb and away from alleys and doorways. If you wear a lanyard around your neck, ensure it has a quick-release mechanism. Carry a whistle, personal alarm and/or pepper spray; and, know how to use them.

Cycling or Jogging: Go with a friend and avoid isolated areas. Always carry personal identification. Stay alert and don't use headphones. Vary your route; don't be predictable. Identify places of refuge along your route in case of emergency. Wear reflective gear if you're out at night. Carry a bicycle repair kit and know how to complete minor repairs. Carry your cell phone in your hand so you can quickly call for help if you need it. Don't forget your pepper spray, personal alarm and/or whistle.

On Public Transit: Avoid isolated or poorly-lit transit stops. Sit near the driver or emergency contact panel and stay alert - don't fall asleep. If someone bothers you, state firmly and loudly, "Leave me alone." Advise the driver immediately.

If someone follows you off the bus or train, walk to where other people are. If you in a residential area, go to the nearest house and ask them to call police. Again, don't forget your pepper spray, whistle and/or personal alarm.

When travelling late at night, the driver may be able to let you off closer to your destination. Ask if this service is available. Don't leave your purse or parcels on the floor - hold them on your lap.

On Holiday: Don't put your home address on luggage tags. Review travel advisories before you depart at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International trade. Click here for the Canadian website. Use traveller's cheques and carry minimal cash. Carry money, passports, visas and other important documents concealed in a money belt or money pouch. Wear minimal jewellery and use the safety deposit box provided by your hotel.

Safety in Your Car: If you must store valuables in your car, keep them out of sight (think trunk). Keep you vehicle fuelled and maintained. Check tire pressure and oil regularly.

Park in well-lit areas near other vehicles. Have your keys ready before you get to your car. Examine the interior of your vehicle before you get in. Criminals have been known to hide in the back seats of cars and attack their victim as they enter the vehicle.

Always lock your vehicle after entering and when leaving it. Don't leave your purse on the passenger seat; keep it on the floor or in the back. Do not pick up hitchhikers. Carry a cellular phone for emergencies. Plan your route and carry a map in case you get lost. Carry a first aid and emergency roadside kit in your car.

If your car breaks downs, turn on the hazard lights, remain in your vehicle with the doors locked and wait for assistance. Carry a "Help - Call Police" sign and place it in the window. If someone offers to help, don't get out of the car. Roll down the window only enough to talk and ask them to call a towing company or the police.

If you believe you are being followed, drive to the nearest business, police station or busy location and blow the horn to attract attention. Call 911. Do not drive home.

There is so much more good information, I will be sprinkling these blogs throughout the other postings for the next couple weeks or so.

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