See Sally Kick Ass: A Woman's Guide to Personal Safety

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Safety Tips

Safety Tip of the Week

#1 Program your cell phone and your family's cell phones for an ICE number. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. This is the telephone number of someone you would want notified in case you are involved in an emergency situation. Law enforcement and other emergency personnel know to look on cell phones for an ICE number.

#2 When driving and you pull up behind another car at an intersection, leave enough room to see the rear tires of the car in front of you. This will give you enough room to maneuver around that car if necessary. If you pull up close and someone stops behind you, you will be stuck and there will not enough maneuvering room in an emergency.

#3 Use the valet services at restaurants and hotels. It will cost you a few dollars, but you won't have to walk through dark garages or parking lots. Only give them the car key and not all your keys including your home key. They could make a copy and they have your license plate number to trace you.

#4 Always lock your doors and/or set the alarm of your home when you are going out, even if it is just to get the mail or do some gardening in the backyard. You do not want to walk back into the house to a surprise.

#5 Always look out the peephole or a side window before answering the door. If you do need to open the door, only open it a couple of inches and use a rubber door stop to prevent someone from forcing open the door further. A rubber door stop is usually less than $2 at the hardware store.

#6 Use timers on your lights to make your home look occupied when you are gone. Get two or three (they are cheap) and place them on lights in several rooms timed differently so that it looks like your home is occupied. Put one on a radio to create noise.

#7 This recently happened in The Woodlands, Texas. A woman parked her car and went into a store. As she came out she noticed a man walking away from her car and liquid on the side of her car and on the ground. She drove out of the parking lot and noticed the man following her. Her car started running very rough and she was able to pull into a parking area by a store and used her cell phone to contact help and the police. The man drove by her three times as she was calling the police. The police told her that criminals sometimes pour a substance into gas tanks to cause car engines to stop. (I have intentionally deleted what the substance was to prevent others from doing this.) Most cars have gas tank covers that unlock from the inside of the car. However if your car does not have a locking gas tank cover or cap, you can purchase a gas tank cap that locks at your local automotive store. 

#8 When possible, go shopping or walking etc. with one or more friends. A group is less likely to be approached by a would be criminal. In the same manner if you are by yourself shopping and getting ready to exit a store, wait until other customers are leaving and walk out with them. You have suddenly become part of their group reducing the risk that you will be targeted.

#9 Lock your car doors as soon as you get in the car and keep them locked. I know it sounds simple, but many women will drive around forgetting to lock their car doors. Don't let that happen to you!

#10 Project a strong image by standing tall and walking confidently swinging your arms slightly. Projecting a strong image prevents you from being perceived as the lowest link in the food chain.

#11 Improve your awareness of what is going on around you by looking side to side and identifying anything that seems out of place or looks unusual, such as a man loitering by your car. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by talking on a cell phone etc. while you going from point A to point B. If you are perceived as being distracted, it places you lower on the food chain and may make you a more inviting target. 

#12 What is the date rape drug of choice for rapists? Alcohol! 75% of date rapes are associated with alcohol. Don't drink or only in moderation and don't associate with heavy drinkers since they can be more sexually aggressive. See chapter 5 in the book for more sexual assault prevention tips.

#13 Use the buddy system when you go to a party. Agree ahead of time with your friends that you will watch out for each other and not allow anyone to be taken advantage of. This means watching each others drinks, taking care of a friend that has had too much to drink and not allowing a friend to leave with anyone when she has had too much to drink.

#14 Some states (Texas and Missouri among others) have laws stating a woman cannot legally give consent if she is drunk and incapacitated. As an example, if a woman is passed out from too much alcohol she cannot have given consent thereby eliminating the "but it was consentual" defense.  

#15 Keep your car well maintained checking the oil, air in tires, etc. Never let your gas tank go below 1/4 of a tank. You do not want to be stranded because you ran out of gas or had a car problem. If you do, keep your doors locked and use your cell phone to call a friend, a gas station, your automobile association for assistance, or the police.

#16 If you are traveling overseas, the best way to carry your passport is in a holder that goes around your neck and tucks into your shirt or blouse. Money and credit cards can usually be put in this holder also. This is the best way to protect yourself from pickpockets.

#17 When traveling by taxi get out of the taxi with all your luggage & belongings before paying the fare. If you pay before getting out, the taxi might "accidently" drive off after you get out, but prior to you getting your luggage.

#18 Check into the hotel with the initials of your first name concealing to others which gender you are. Have the bellman accompany you to your room with your bags. Have him check out the entire room and closets to make sure you don't have a "visitor."

#19 With the world the way it is today, when you are traveling overseas you should leave all of your clothes that have USA or other logos associated with Americans at home. Don't advertise that you are an American, rather in some parts of the world you may want to be Canadian, a New Zealander, etc. You don't want some extremist to decide this is his day to grab an American.

#20 Learn some of the languages of the countries you plan to visit. It will make your trip more interesting and the local people will appreciate your attempts to speak the language no matter how much you butcher it. It will also allow you to communicate if you need help. By the way it doesn't help them understand any better if you keep speaking louder and louder.

#21 Remember when you are in another country you are subject to their laws. Therefore be very careful when driving and never ever have anything to do with drugs since the penalties can be very harsh.

#22 Never go alone with someone you've just met when they promise to take you to the best disco in town. Date rape drugs can be more available in some foreign countries so take all of the precautions suggested in the book about watching your drink and using the buddy system.

#23 Being aware of what is going on around you is one of the most important factors in staying safe. As you are walking towards your car, look around to see if anyone is loitering nearby or anything else looks suspicious. If it does, trust your intuition and return to the store, office or back into your home. Your keys should be out ready to insert into the door lock and keep one finger on the panic button of your car keys. If someone comes up suddenly, press the panic button which will start the horn honking and lights flashing to attract attention. This recently saved a young Texas woman who was going to her car. Once the horn started honking the criminals ran off. When you get into your car immediately lock the door, start the engine, put on your seat belt and leave.

#24 Find out what the emergency contact number for your State Highway Patrol is - as an example in Missouri it is *55, in Texqas it is *77. This allows you to very quickly contact law enforcement if necessary. You can always dial 911 and have the operator contact law enforcement, but a direct number is quicker. Program your cell phone for your local police, sheriffs department, fire department etc. and you will be prepared in an emergency.

#25 Texting while driving has become a very serious safety issue. It is difficult if not impossible not to be distracted and having to look away from the road to the phone no matter how good of a texter someone thinks they are. I am personally aware of a number of accidents due to texting and nationwide it is a serious problem. If someone you know is texting while driving you need to get them to stop for their safety and the safety of other people on the road.

#26 Every child should be taught what to do if someone grabs them by the wrist. Review pages 48 to 50 of See Sally Kick Ass: A Woman's Guide to Personal Safety for techniques on how to escape grasps.

#27 Whenever possible go shopping or walking with a friend or friends. A criminal is less likely to target a group. If you have been shopping and start to exit a store, but notice some unsavory characters outside, wait until a group of shoppers exit the store and join them. You automatically become part of the group and less likely to attract the attention of someone with criminal intent.

#28 When you are walking to your car you should already have your keys in your hand. Have a finger on the alarm button of the remote door opener and push it if you sense any trouble. The car horn will start beeping and lights flashing which will dissuade someone because of all the commotion. If there is no problem, you just pushed the button in error which we all do from time to time. Better to be a bit over-reactive than under.

#29 This is the beginning of the new year and it is time to make a commitment to enhancing your personal safety. Read through the book again for reminders of things you should be incorporating in your everyday activities. Get with some friends and practice the self-defense techniques illustrated in chapter 4 until they become familiar.

#30 Use the buddy system when doing activities. Criminals are more likely to accost a single person than two or more people. So if you're shopping, going for a walk or running for exercise go with a friend whenever possible. By the way it can be a four legged friend. If you don't have a dog maybe you can borrow one from a neighbor that would appreciate their pet getting some additional exercise.

#31 Whenever possible back in to your parking place or pull through so that you are heading out. This allows you to get in your car and immediately leave if there is a problem. You have to back up some time and better to take the extra time when you park rather than when you might have to leaqve quickly. By the way, the military are taught to back their vehicles in so that if necessary they can exit quickly under fire.

#32 If you get in your car and as you start to back out you notice a paper on your back window, do not get out to take it off. Drive to a gas station or other populated area and then get out and take it off. It has become a ploy now for criminals to put a piece of paper on the back window of a car and when the woman gets out to take it off they confront her. See #31 - if you pulling straight out you don't have to worry about looking out the back window.

#33 See tip #28 regarding using the panic button on your car keys. This also works even if you are in the house. If you are in your home and hear someone trying to break in, hit the panic button on your car keys activating your car security alarm. Your car horn will start honking attracting your neighbors atttention and will keep on until you deactivate it.

#34 Our natural instinct when someone grabs the back of our jacket or coat is to bring our arms to our front and close to the chest to prevent them from taking it. Instead relax your arms extending them backwards so the jacket/coat slides off your arms allowing you to run to safety.

#35 Practice! Make implementation of the safety tips part of your daily routine. You'll find in general they don't take any more effort, but can dramatically reduce the probability of your being involved in an adverse situation. It's like buckling up your seatbelt - make your personal safety a habit.

#36 3M makes a security plastic film that is applied to glass to make it shatter proof. You might want to consider applying it to glass in doors to prevent someone from breaking the glass and then reaching through and unlocking your door. Google 3M plastic film for a more details and a distributor in your area.

#37 A motion detector light is relatively inexpensive and can be installed by your outside doors to come on at night when anyone approaches. These can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Sometimes you can simply convert an existing light fixture by removing it and wiring in the motion detector. TAKE ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS AND MAKE SURE THE CIRCUIT BREAKER FOR THAT FIXTURE IS OFF BEFORE ATTEMPTING ANY WIRING CHANGES.

#38 As you are walking to your car in the parking lot make sure you are aware of your surroundings and everything that is going on. As you get closer to your car you can look at the windows and see the reflection to see what if anything might be trying to come up behind you. As always, have your keys out, unlock your doors get in and immediately relock your doors, then leave. Don't sit there making phone calls or checking your shopping list, a bad guy might have seen you getting in your car and you don't want to wait for him. Drive to a different location and then check your shopping list etc.

#39 At night, high intensity flashlights can be used to disrupt an attacker's night vision giving time for escape. I recently purchased at Sam's Club a pack of two high intensity flashlights for $30 or $15 each. The brand was Element and uses LED technology. These flashlights put out 150 lumens which is like looking into a flashbulb!! If you are walking around at night you can switch the flashlight from regular beam to high intensity if you become alarmed by someone's approach. Directed at someone's eyes will make them very uncomfortable and will disrupt their night vision. Read the warnings on the package.