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 Personal Safety Tips                

Three simple rules of safety

  • Stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings, wherever you are. Don't be taken by surprise. Be aware and be prepared.
  • Stand tall and walk confidently. Don't show fear. Don't look like a victim.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave right away and get help if necessary.

On foot

  • Choose busy streets and avoid going through vacant lots, alleys, or other deserted areas.
  • At night, walk in well-lighted areas whenever possible.
  • Try not to walk or jog alone. Take a friend or neighbor along for company.
  • Get to know the neighborhoods and neighbors where you live and work.
  • Find out what stores and restaurants are open late and where the police and fire stations are located.
  • Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it.
  • Avoid pickpockets by carrying your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front-trouser pocket.

In your car

  • Always lock your car and take the keys, even if you'll be gone only a short time.
  • Keep your car in good running condition, and keep the tank at least a quarter full; lock doors while driving.
  • If your car breaks down, raise the hood and place emergency reflectors or flares. Then stay in the locked car. When someone stops to help, don't get out. Ask him or her, through a closed or cracked window, to telephone the police to come and help.
  • If you're coming or going after dark, park in a well-lighted area that will still be well-lighted when you return.
  • Be especially alert when using enclosed parking garages.
  • Don't walk into an area if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Leave only your ignition key with a parking attendant. Don't leave your house key or other keys on the key ring.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers. Never. And don't hitch rides yourself.

When using an ATM machine

  • Try to plan your visits to automatic teller machines during the day, rather than after dark.
  • Choose an ATM location that is in a busy public place.
  • Avoid making withdrawals in isolated areas.
  • If at all possible, take along a friend who can watch the surroundings while you are conducting your transaction.
  • Pre-plan your transaction carefully, and don't spend too much time at the machine.
  • When you make a withdrawal, quickly place the money in your purse or wallet and leave as soon as you finish your transaction.
  • Watch out for suspicious looking people waiting around an ATM-they may not really be customers.
  • If someone offers to let you go ahead of them, decline politely and leave.
  • When visiting a drive-through ATM, keep your doors locked and be prepared to drive away quickly. If anyone approaches your car on foot, roll up your window and drive off. If you have not finished your transaction, and you are approached by a suspicious character, press the CANCEL button, receive your card and leave quickly.

Keeping Kids Safe

A great thing about kids is their natural trust in people, especially in adults. It's sometimes hard for parents to teach children to balance this trust with caution. But kids today need to know common-sense rules that can help keep them safe and build the self confidence they need to handle emergencies.

Make sure your kids know:

  • How to call 911 in emergencies, and how to use a public phone. Help them practice making emergency phone calls. Be sure emergency numbers -- police, fire, poison control, and emergency medical -- are by all phones.
  • Their full name, address, and phone number (including the area code), plus your work phone number. If you have a cellular phone and/or beeper, teach your children these numbers as well.
  • How to walk confidently and stay alert to what's going on around them.
  • To walk and play with friends, not alone.
  • To refuse rides or gifts from anyone, unless it's someone both you and your child know and trust.
  • To tell a trusted adult immediately if anyone, no matter who, touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Safety at Home

If you're locked out of your home, can you still get in? Maybe through an unlocked window in the back, or using an extra key hidden under a flowerpot or up on a ledge? Remember: if you can break in, so can a burglar! A small investment of time and money can make your home more secure and can reduce your chances of being a victim of burglary, assault, or vandalism. Get to know your neighbors. Watchful neighbors who look out for you, as well as themselves, are a front-line defense against crime.

Basic Rules

  • Make sure that all doors to the outside are metal or solid 1 ¾" hardwood.
  • Make sure all doors to the outside have good, sturdy locks -- deadbolt locks with a minimum of 1 ½" bolt.
  • Use the locks you have. Always lock up your home when you go out, even if it's "only for a few minutes."
  • Secure sliding glass doors with commercially available bars or locks, or put a wooden dowel or broomstick in the door track.
  • Make sure your windows, especially at ground level, have good locks-and use them!
  • Make sure all porches and other possible entrances are well lighted.
  • Trim any bushes or trees that hide doors or windows.
  • Keep ladders, tools, toys, and recreational equipment inside when you're not using them.
  • Don't hide your house keys under the door mat or in a flower pot. It's much wiser to give an extra key to a trusted neighbor.
  • Keep written records of all furniture, jewelry and electronic products. If possible, keep these records in a safe deposit box, fireproof safe or other secure place.
  • Take pictures or a video, and keep purchase information and serial numbers if available. These help law enforcement agencies track recovered items.

For apartment dwellers

  • Make sure that entrances, parking areas, hallways, stairways, laundry rooms, and other common areas are well lighted.
  • Report burned out bulbs or other problems to the manager.
  • Make sure fire stairs are locked from the stairwell side, with an emergency exit at ground level.
  • Laundry rooms and storage areas should always be kept locked unless a resident is actually inside.

When you go away

  • Ask a trusted neighbor to collect your mail and newspapers, and offer to return the favor.
  • Leave word about when you're leaving, when you'll return, and how you can be reached in an emergency.
  • Put automatic timers on at least two lights (and possibly a radio) to help your home look and sound lived in.

Reducing Violence

  • Look for ways to settle arguments and disagreements without violence. Remember: if you resort to violence to settle disputes, a child may well follow your example.
  • Be a good role model. Use good manners to help ease tensions that can lead to violence.
  • Teach kids that showing respect for themselves and for the needs of others can prevent crime.
  • Report crimes and suspicious activities to police; agree to testify when necessary.
  • If you want to live in a safe community, stand up for what you believe in.
  • Don't support illegal activities, like buying stolen property or using illegal drugs. It's the wrong message to send to a child, and it involves you in criminal activity. It also encourages more crime that hurts you and your neighbors.