In today’s society, it has become increasingly important to keep your eyes open and alert when in public. There are too many people who are ready to take advantage of individuals, and are looking for every opportunity when they believe your guard is down. Consider the following tips to build your awareness of strangers without becoming paranoid:
If you work in an environment in which you park in a parking garage, or happen to have been shopping in a place in which you are forced to use a parking garage, the most important thing you can do to make it safely to your car (especially for women) is to hold your head up high and walk with purpose. Do not look down or away, or individuals looking to take advantage of you might see that as a sign of weakness, and could turn around and attack you.
Make sure when entering the garage, you remember where you parked your car, and watch carefully for all people who are walking through the garage. As you approach your car, look carefully to see that there is no one close by, and once you get into your car safely, lock all the doors.
Do not stop to provide directions or assistance to strangers, because you don’t know if they really need help or are looking for someone to victimize. If you have a cell phone, make sure you have that in one hand with your keys in the other, ready to get into your car and/or call in the event of an emergency.
Dimly lit parking lots
Similar to a parking garage, keep an eye on dimly lit parking lots, especially in the winter. Know where your car is parked and head straight for it. Keep your keys in one hand and a phone in the other (if applicable). Keep your eyes open and aware of all that is around you, and listen closely for anything that might be different from a normal sound. Check your car carefully before getting in, as many abductors have hidden under individual’s cars in order to attack them as they get ready to get in the car.
If your car has an auto door unlock or an panic button, and you are unsure as to whether or not someone might be near your car, use the buttons to scare off any strangers. Again, do not stop to talk with or help strangers-if someone appears to need help-once you are safely in your locked car, offer to call someone to help them, but do not allow them access to your vehicle nor use of your phone.
Strangers visiting your home
Even in the safest neighborhoods, you never know who is watching your house, waiting to break in and burglarize your home. If someone comes to the door that you do not know, make sure you look through the peephole of your door, first. Talk through the locked door to the individual to see how you can help them. If you do not have a peephole, then crack the door (using a chain at the top if applicable) to see what the individual wants. If you have a window, look out the window first. Whatever you do, do not let a stranger into your home. This includes young teenagers and kids. You may think you can trust a young person, but you do not know anything about them, and may not be aware of their true intentions in entering your home.
If you are having repairs done to your home, and you know someone will be coming by, you might want to ask a friend or family member to come by while the repair person is there. If you have a dog, keep your dog out and visible to the repair person at all times. This will ensure the repair person does what they are supposed to do, and will show them that your dog’s job is to keep you safe. Dogs are very smart when it comes to people and are great judges of character. They will let you know if the person in your home is to be trusted. Keep the phone with you at all times as well-this will show the repair person you mean business, and want them out of your home as quickly as possible.
Strangers walking, unescorted, through the workplace
Many people have had personal belongings, including credit and debit cards, stolen from the workplace by strangers who have managed to gain access to your workplace. If you see someone walking through your workplace that you do not know, do not be afraid to stop them and ask who they are and if you can help them. If they are there on legitimate business, you will learn that quickly. If they are not, you can help your company by escorting them out of the workplace. Building this awareness in your workplace will help keep you and your co-workers safe and prepared in the event an individual wanders through your workplace aimlessly.
Exercising outdoors in the early morning/evening
If you choose to exercise in the early morning or evening, there are few things to keep in mind. First, you may want to consider inviting a buddy/partner to go with you. Using the buddy system will keep you safe, as strangers will not approach a team of two with malicious intent. Second, don’t go the same route at the same time every day. If a stranger is watching you, they will know your routines and will know when/how to attack you. Change your routine regularly so as to detract potential predators from attacking you.
Third, make sure you wear light-colored clothing that is easily visible. If you choose to exercise alone, make sure your spouse or a close friend knows what time and where you will be, and have them check in with you to make sure you are safe. Fourth, carry your cell phone with you, along with a small can of mace. If someone attacks you, you will be able to fend off a stranger more easily with mace and a phone.
The biggest and most important thing is to be familiar and aware of your surroundings.
If you choose to go shopping at the mall, or you “walk the mall” in the mornings or evenings, keep your eyes open as to who is there with you. If strangers approach you, be polite, but make sure you keep going and are aware of where you left the stranger. Go into different stores and try to divert a stranger’s attention who may be following you.
Overall, the key to building stranger awareness is developing a constant radar within yourself to ensure you know who is out there with you at all times. Carry a cell phone or mace (or both) at all times, and make sure you remain confident and poised in every situation. Do not act scared, nervous, or apprehensive in any way-even if you feel that way. Remain calm, confident, and aware!