As a police wife I’m even more aware of the dangers that our world holds. I’m not paranoid, but I am prepared each time I go out. Here are 10 things I keep in mind in order to stay as safe as possible!
Be alert. Put your phone down, take in your surroundings, don’t have both earbuds in blasting music, and keep the daydreaming to a minimum. Check to see if you’re being followed while you’re on a stroll, double check for traffic or dangers before you cross the street, and drive defensively.
Appear confident. Walk quickly and proudly, keep your chin up, and keep your gaze level. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing or where you are, appear like you’re in charge of the situation-this makes you a much less easy target. Never look lost or afraid.
Keep your hands free whenever possible. Use a purse or belt bag, wear your baby or use your stroller, and have your keys and wallet hands free. If you’re carrying shopping bags or a bunch of stuff, don’t get tangled up-have a plan of how to free up your hands quickly if you need.
Avoid routines when possible. Don’t walk the same route at the same time each day, and don’t always park in the same spot. Switch things up when you can.
Always keep your car doors locked. Even if you’re just returning your cart, even if you’re just sitting in your driveway, even if you just got in and haven’t buckled your seatbelt yet. The minute your booty hits your seat, lock your doors. The minute you get out, lock your doors.
Be mindful of what information you give away. Are you wearing a shirt with your husband’s department on it? Does your car have a bumper sticker with your kiddo’s school proudly displayed? Does your sweatshirt have your last name on the back? Be mindful of what information you’re putting out into the world and how people might use it. This goes for children’s items as well-think about whether you want strangers to be able to call your child by name because it’s labeled on their backpack or shirt.
Use your surroundings or props to your advantage. Keep your shopping cart between you and others, park and walk in places that are well lit, stay within eyesight of others, take your dog with you, or run errands with a friend. You probably always have your cell phone on you-you can use it to call for help if needed, but also use it to talk to others in you’re alone, speaking clearly and mentioning your location and plans to them. Bags, keys, and carts can also be used as a weapon or distraction if needed.
Don’t stop to talk to people (ie, strangers that may be threats). Stopping gives them power, so keep your momentum going. You don’t have to be rude-you can simply say “sorry, I’m on a time crunch” or “no thank you” while you keep cruising by.
Have a weapon and feel comfortable using it. Whether it’s a firearm, pepper spray, knife, or even your car key-have a weapon on you, know where it is, and know how to use it. If you’ve never shot before, don’t put one in your purse and hope for the best. Pick something that you’re comfortable using and can safely keep on your body.
Make eye contact and acknowledge others, especially if they seem like threats. If you think someone is following you, turn around and stare them in the eyes. If someone is giving you weird vibes in a store, look them in the face and loudly and confidently say something like “it looks like you’re having trouble finding what you need, I’ll get someone to help you”. If you really feel threatened, don’t be afraid to make a scene-say something loudly and directly like “stop following me!” and ask others for help. Keep your head on a swivel and let others know that you see them.