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Safety is a Priority

June is National Safety Month. Are you prepared?

Actually, every month should be ‘safety month’. Rather, every day. There are so many ways we can become injured or the victim of a crime, we must constantly be aware of potential problems. This doesn’t mean we have to be hypervigilant, but it does mean we should always be aware of our surroundings and the people nearby.

A recent study[1] found that 47% of all men and 59% of women admitted to feeling safer carrying a personal safety device such as pepper spray when they’re on the go.

We have talked about the Color Code of Awareness before, so I won’t go over it again. Suffice to say whenever you leave your home you should always be a bit more ‘switched on’. You should start by building your situational awareness skills. Always pay attention to your surroundings and remain in condition yellow as this will help you build your skills. One of the best ways to get better at something is practice and simply paying attention to your surroundings will increase your observational skills.

When you go out, be sure to put yourself in the best position for observing the area. How? Sit in a corner or with your back to a wall facing out. This will help you to see any threat that may be nearby. Putting yourself in the least vulnerable position is an important part of situational awareness.

Don’t look at building your skills as a chore. Make it fun. Make up games with your friends, kids, and significant others. Count the number of people wearing hats in the room; what color shirt is the most common; how many people are wearing glasses, etc. If you look at it as a game, it will become something that you do without a second thought. Observations like this could possibly save your life. Memory games will also help strengthen your awareness abilities.

As a long-time law enforcement officer, I have written many reports. Often, when asking victims questions about the incident, they almost always said something like, “I never saw him coming!” or, “It happened so fast!” Both typical. When you go out in public, pay attention to what is happening around you. Getting to know the ‘baseline’ of the places you frequent is important so you can recognize when something is out of the norm. You should heighten your awareness if there is something happening. It could be totally innocent, but you do not want to take that chance.

There are some people you just instinctively notice. Regardless as to why, take note. If you see someone looking ‘shady’ they may be up to something so listen to your ‘Spidey sense’ – do not ignore it. Women tend to avoid eye contact with people who seem off but making eye contact may help you. If the VCA (violent criminal actor) or aggressive panhandler is looking for an easy target, making eye contact shows you are engaged and aware

Since we spend a great deal of time in and/or around our vehicles, it may be prudent to make some adjustments to our daily routine.

Keep your keys out when you arrive at your destination. The less time you spend fumbling in your bag or pocket, the less vulnerable you are to potential threats. Immediately get out of your car when you arrive at your destination to limit the time you spend sitting idle. Staying in your car to finish a phone call or finish listening to your favorite song can leave you vulnerable to potential threats.

If you park your car in a garage, do not open the garage door until you are in your car, the doors are locked, and key is in the ignition. This way, you are safely locked in your car if a VCA were to enter your garage when the door opens. You can drive to a safe location and call law enforcement. If the attacker tries to enter your car, being locked in gives you the time to employ other options if necessary. If you are armed, using a firearm is a last resort and should only be done if your life is in imminent danger. If you can drive away, do it!

It is best practice to back into your garage or parking spot, either at home, at work, etc. By doing so, you will always have a full view of what is coming your way. This also allows you to leave faster in the event of an emergency. In addition, you will be in a better position to use your car as a defensive weapon if needed.

Just because you are home, don’t let your guard down - the same principles apply. Stay aware of your surroundings and be observant to ensure you have not been followed home. Verify that no one is waiting near your home. Keep driving and notify law enforcement if you notice someone following you or feel uneasy about a situation.

Do not let your awareness wane when you are transitioning from one location or activity to another. Always be practicing situational awareness. Always practice smart defensive strategies when transitioning as it is not the time to be on your phone, looking at receipts, or performing unnecessary tasks. VCA’s have the element of surprise on their side and determine when they attack. They will look for and act in those moments when you let your guard down. This is what they do. They are trained predators.

Always know what is happening around you. Don’t take the “It won’t happen to me” attitude. Keep your head up, your eyes open and listen to what’s going on. Don’t be looking at your phone, look at the people near you, and limit using your headphones when you’re out. Listen to your music or podcast with only one earbud rather than two. This limits distractions and allows you to be more engaged with your surroundings. Build your safety plan and situational awareness a little more every day and …



The Director's Desk

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