Most women are familiar with the standard safety practices of avoiding dimly or unlit areas and parking lots, checking the back seat of our car before getting in to verify no one is hiding there, not getting into cars with strangers, etc. With gun ownership and conceal and carry permits being so much in the news and social media these days, here are some tips that go beyond those standard safety practices that might just save your life.
- Listen to your gut/trust your gut. This includes learning your gut language. Most of the time if our gut is telling us something is not quite “right” in a situation, something is not right. Listen to it, trust it, go with it.
- If you feel someone is following or observing you, make eye contact. Making eye contact lets the person know you know they are there, and they are more likely to walk away and try to find a more unsuspecting victim.
- If you suspect someone has been following you around the store, if possible, when waiting in line at check out, write a note to the cashier. Briefly state your concerns, a description of the person and request the cashier to contact security for an escort to your car. Carry a pen and paper in your purse or wallet. If you don’t have paper, use an old receipt or tissue.
- If you take your shopping cart out with you to your car, don’t load your packages into your trunk. Instead, load them into the front passenger seat. This way you can use the cart as a barrier. Open the door and wedge the cart between the door and the car, using it to prop the door open. Make sure you are standing in the triangular space created between the door, your car and the cart. This way, if someone approaches you and you do not feel safe, you can use the cart as a deterrent by pushing the cart towards the person and quickly climbing into the car, pulling and locking the door behind you.
- If you are approached by a stranger asking for a ride and you’ve determined they seem safe enough, prior to going anywhere text a friend or family member and let them know what you are doing, where you are going, and as much information about the person you are with as you can give. Don’t be afraid to let the person know you are letting your husband or family member know where you are going. It’s okay to simply say, “I’m expected home soon, so let me text my husband and let him know where I’m going and I’ll be a little late.” This will also let the person know that someone else now knows what’s going on, and if they had any ideas of doing something sinister, perhaps they will have second thoughts. This also helps authorities find you if, God forbid, something does happen to you, and will help identify the last person you were with.
- While you’re at it, send that text before even getting in the car and include a picture of the person you’re giving a ride to. Position yourself such that you are facing the person, with you phone between you, and while you are casually mentioning you are sending your husband a text, snap a quick picture of them. With smart phones these days, it’s easy to take a picture without someone realizing that is what you are doing. Make sure you silence your phone first if you are afraid the camera may “click” when you take the picture. Then send the picture along with your text.
- In your bag/purse, have everything be the same color as the interior of your bag, preferably a dark color, such as black. This way it is hard to identify what it what. Your wallet is the same color as your gloves or your umbrella – a potential thief can’t tell the difference so is less likely to reach in and grab something. You may say, “But that makes it harder for me to find what I’m looking for!” Exactly! If it’s hard for you to find it and you know what you’re looking for, think how hard it would be for someone unfamiliar with the contents of your purse. And speaking of purses – wear one that can be carried across your body and keep the purse in front of you. This protects the purse from being snatched off your shoulder, as well as protecting it from pick pockets.
- Never admit to having cash or a debit card. If pushed, indicate all you have is a credit card that does not allow cash back. Do not offer – or agree – to go to a near-by ATM to withdraw money.
- Be willing to hand over a physical item, such as gloves, a hat, or a small amount of cash. These things are replaceable or worth losing versus your life. If they are pestering you for money and you have a $5 or $10, give it to them folded up so they can’t see what denomination it is. Chances are they will take it and quickly leave without actually looking at what you gave them. This will give you enough time to either get some place safe or alert a near-by security guard.
- Do not give out your real name or any identifying info, such as phone number or address. If they insist, don’t. Just don’t.
Do you have a tip you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Please feel free to leave a comment below!