Personal Safety

General Safety

Create a safety plan, think about how you might react before a problem arises.

  • Listen to and act on your intuition. It's better to be safe and risk a little embarrassment, than stay in an uncomfortable situation that may be unsafe.
  • Whenever possible do not walk in deserted places, if you have to, try not to walk alone.
  • Have your keys ready when approaching your car or building.
  • Vary your routine: drive or walk different routes every day. If you suspect that someone is following you, by foot or in a car, you might not want to go home (especially if you live alone). Go to a trusted neighbor or to a public place to call police, or go directly to a police or fire station.
  • Do not label keys with your name or any identification.
  • Don't talk about your social life or vacation plans where strangers can overhear you.
  • Avoid being on the street alone if you are upset or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • When dropping someone off at their home, make sure they are safely inside before driving away. Have them do the same for you.
  • The best course of action if confronted by an armed or otherwise threatening assailant is generally to cooperate with their demands and to try to remain calm. Many individuals recommend various forms of self-defense to potential victims such as martial arts, a kick in a strategic location, pepper mace, etc. Although some of these methods may be acceptable for some people in certain situations, these are individual decisions that each person must make on their own depending on their perception of the situation and their comfort level with self defense. Resistance by the untrained individual may, in some instances, lead to escalation in the potential for violence.

In Your Home

  • Have good locks on all doors and windows and good lighting.
  • Do not leave a schedule of your times away from home on your answering machine or on your door.
  • If you live alone, do not let strangers know.
  • Know which neighbors you can trust in an emergency.
  • Check who is at the door before opening it, and do not open the door to an unexpected visitor.
  • Don't hide extra keys in easily accessible places. Criminals will find them.
  • Ask for photo identification of all repair persons, etc. If you are still suspicious, call to verify employment.
  • Never give personal information to telephone solicitors.
  • Do not let strangers into your home to use the phone. Offer to make the call for them.
  • Always call the police if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about a situation.

On the Street

  • Be very careful using outside ATMs at night or in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • When walking, face the oncoming traffic. It will be harder for someone to pull you into a car and abduct you. You can also see cars coming in your lane.
  • Tell someone where you'll be and what time you're supposed to return, or if you will be with someone you don't know well.
  • Don't overload yourself with packages. If you must have your hands full, visualize how you would respond if approached, how you would get your hands free, etc.
  • If you wear a purse with a shoulder strap carry it under your arm, be prepared to let it go if snatched. Otherwise you may be hurt if the mugger knocks you down and drags you while fleeing with your purse.