People tend to get a little crazy and whacked out during busy holiday shopping seasons. There are a few precautions we can take to ensure our personal safety while out shopping or running errands, even while being at work or home. Not everyone has the time or financial means to enroll in karate or self defense classes, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to be prepared for anything. Here are some tips to incorporate into your daily routines. How "safe" is your lifestyle and shopping habits? Take About.com's holiday safety screening quiz to find out. They suggest not parking next to vans, camper shells, cars with tinted windows or box trucks when out shopping, and always park in well lit areas. To find out how safe your home is against crime, take their home safety screening quiz. They even show how to detect counterfeit money.
There's an interesting read on Modern Self Protection that helps with how to identify a criminal, because no one should live in fear. They suggest to train your mind when assessing your surroundings, wherever you may be, to look at any given person and ask yourself “why is that person here?”. In doing that, you may be able to predict someone's wrongful intentions before they happen, ultimately being able to save yourself (and others). In other words, if that person seems to stick out or "not belong", chances are they shouldn't be there. There is also a book called Crime Signals that goes into depth on "how to spot a criminal before you become a victim". Criminals are opportunists, seizing any chance they can to lute, pillage, rob, deceive, to obtain your valuables, cash, and sometimes even your life. It is always recommended to hand over everything if being robbed, as things can be replaced, your life can't.
When out shopping, the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) suggests to shop during daylight hours and take a friend or family member with you. They recommend not flashing cash (or other valuables) at the register or in plain site, which could attract would-be criminals or con-artists. Additionally, they say to know where fire alarms and emergency exits are located. If you know of a shortcut or quicker path to reach your destination and it's not very well lit or populated, don't travel it, this especially applicable to students on campus. The Los Angeles Police Department says you can even ask for mall security to escort you to your vehicle if there are people "lingering" around it, or it has become dark since you entered the shopping location. Be alert and aware of people "hanging around" parking lots/garages, or just inside or outside the establishment you are visiting. Trust your instincts, as the Sentinel recommends, and lock your car doors once safely inside, as desperate times are causing people to go to great lengths to get what they want, however they can.
KidPower provides great tips to keeping our children safe at all times. They educate about "stranger danger" and that children should practice "how" to interrupt busy adults like storekeepers, librarians, or cashiers if they get separated from parents or guardians. They continue saying to remind kids these folks are strangers, too, but you believe they will help in an emergency situation. The Volunteer Guide adds to teach your children that stores, schools, libraries, and restaurants are all safe public places where they can run if they are in jeopardy. Contacting organizations such as S.I.P. Kids (Keeping Kids Save Project), a national child safety program that tours the country providing free FBI quality digital fingerprints to families, to help in case of an abduction. McGruff is a great "crime fighting" character all families should be familiar with. His website offers free games, videos, advice, and valuable information for both children and adults that are great tools for learning about crime prevention and safety, and how to identify and fight against crime.
The National Crime Prevention Council wonderful online resources for various safety measures in different situations, including tips on natural and man-made disaster preparedness your family can implement and practice on a regular basis. The Mesa Police Department even suggests business owners maintain a direct line of sight to the entrance door from anywhere in their business, and not to create shopping areas that are out of view of security cameras or behind boxes or shelves where someone could easily be overtaken or harmed. Alarm.org says we can help to ensure our safety by not walking too closely to bushes or areas with any kind of tall overgrowth. Additionally, we should always walk on the sidewalk facing traffic. Facing traffic makes it more difficult for someone to drive up behind you without being noticed. Thieves are everywhere, as the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department reminds us, even posing threats at gas stations. They've created a "Be Aware Of Your Surroundings" publication of tips and reminders to print, cut out and carry in your purse or wallet, or give to loved ones.
Don't get distracted, use common sense. If you are putting yourself in a situation that is not right or could even turn into a dangerous one, avoid it completely. Err on the side of caution, which could be difficult if you are rushed for time or late for an appointment. Be extremely aware of your surroundings at all times. Imagine someone in your vicinity has committed a crime, pick anyone around you, then look away (test yourself), then look back. Would you be able to "identify" the person you chose? What were they wearing? How tall were they? Did they have any visible forms of identification (hat, sunglasses, tattoos, etc) that would help police identify them? Were they carrying any items, or did they have anyone with them? What about the color or style of their shoes, were they even wearing any? These are little things you can do while walking in the grocery store, or sitting at a red light watching people crossing the street to help test and strengthen your awareness skills. Train your brain to become aware and retain details of things and people you encounter. Sites such as Lumosity and National Geographic's Brain Games, are free and can help your mind develop the ability to enhance awareness to your surroundings, and they are fun as well.
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