It’s ironical that on the week we’re focusing on personal safety and protection, tragedy strikes the Boston Marathon when two bombs explode. The casualty count is still at 3, but many more are wounded and many are in critical condition. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone involved, including the first responders and the family members of the victims. Also ironical is that today’s blog focuses on Security Away From Home.
The first level of protection is always awareness. Like in Boston, what could someone have noticed? Perhaps an individual acting suspicious? Someone leaving items unattended? While these seem like trite warnings, our gut will often tell us when someone is acting in a manner outside the baseline for a particular set of circumstances. It is our job to listen and take action.
And again, all too often we make it too easy on the bad guys:
- 50-percent of stolen cars are unlocked and 20-percent have the keys in them (yes, it CAN happen to you) (Lipman 105)
- Cover valuables in the back of a car with a tarp – most thieves will avoid it because they are not sure if the risk is worth the reward (Lipman 109)
- Check your car in the evening before you get in (Lipman 111); don’t park in the same place every day (Lipman 119) avoid identifiable patterns
- Stay off your cell phone as you walk to your car – a distracted victim is a better victim for the bad guy (Lipman 131)
How to react when the crime is happening to you: if you’re mugged, the general advice is to give up your valuables (Lipman 125). The bad guy is likely a better fighter than you are. Pepper spray, whistles, Tasers or personal alarms (Lipman 128-129) may help you out but make sure you’ve practiced with them or else you’re going to embrace the suck.
Same thing with your self defense techniques – if you were a black belt 20 years ago but the last time you wore your Karate Gi was when Ralph Macchio played the Karate Kid , you’re likely signing up for a first class ass kicking instead. Also, keep in mind that most self defense weapons are effective only if carried in your hand or an easily accessible place (Lipman 127).
But whatever you do, do NOT let the individual take you into an alley or secluded place – your odds of surviving just dropped.
If you pull a gun, know the laws of your State on the use of deadly force and be sure that you are VERY well trained and prepared to use the weapon – an attacker may grab the weapon and use it against you. What do you think they spend all their time in prison doing, reading Tolstoy? Unlikely – they are most likely taking an undergrad equivalent in fighting, mugging, robbing and raping, with some post graduate work in how to take your weapon away from you and kill you with it.
When on the town, know where you’re at. Park the car in an attended lot if possible (thefts are greater from unattended lots). If you’re at the club when the fight breaks out, get out of dodge, fast! (Lipman 134). Someone may pull a gun, you may get pulled into either the fight or get caught up as 500 people do their best Pamplona impersonation out the door. Or, at the very least, as happened to me during an impromptu Super Bowl party one night after my team had won, enjoy the aroma therapy of police tear gas.
Finally, here’s one for the kids. Keep an eye on your kids particularly at the mall – its easy to lose track of them. I’m not suggesting the leash, but at least hold their hands when they’re little and when they’re older do the stranger-danger training – I particularly like The Safe Side, made by the Baby Einstein’s Julie Clark and America’s Most Wanted’s John Walsh. Kidnapper look for crowds of people to provide cover for their crime, (Lipman 142). Also, child molesters wait in public bathrooms for children who enter alone (Lipman 143). Go in with them or ask a security officer or store clerk for assistance – the family bathroom is always the preferred option.
Lipman, Ira A. How to Be Safe: Protect Yourself, Your Home, Your Family, and Your Business from Crime. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, 2011. Print.