Personal Safety Advice

Techniques for improving your situational awareness and personal safety.

  • Be aware of your environment and surroundings;
  • Look around regularly and check your surroundings and keep your peripheral vision wide;
  • Walk with purpose and confidence as if you know where you are going;
  • Never wear headphones when walking or running;
  • Don’t have valuables on display, such as phones or wallets;
  • Trust your instincts and gut feelings;
  • If you have any doubt or bad feelings of what’s ahead, turn around and go back the way you came;
  • If you feel scared or threatened go to a public place and call someone or phone the police if its dark, make sure you travel in a well-lit area;
  • Learn to control your breathing (if you can control your breathing you can think clearer).
  • Never take short cuts through unlit areas of town to save a few minutes, you are always much safer staying with a group to get home, or get a taxi to your door.

 

If you are out on the town visiting bars, there are certain times that the risk of violence increases by up to 50%, that’s at the end of the evening about an hour and a half before the bars start to shut. There’s an old saying KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE THE PARTY that way you drastically decrease the risks of violence. Don’t go to the town centre taxi rank as the bars are shutting, again this is another area where violence can erupt very quickly and without warning. Plan your evening in advance book a taxi or private hire company to pick you up from outside the venue and always leave well before last orders, because if shits going to happen this is the most likely time.

Personal Safety for students

If you are studying away from home, it is an exciting time to start out as a resident student. With most students, it’s all work and lots of fun, I expect mom and dad have told you to be careful and watch out for this and watch out for that. I expect you won’t take any of it very seriously, because all you can see is fun times ahead.

There is nothing wrong with having a good time and making new friends. But among all this fun, there are many dangers, especially when you are in a new town or city and you are not familiar with the area. Criminals and sexual predators have hunting grounds, and where better to hunt than young people who have come from a different area and may not know aspects of the location, environment, or unscrupulous characters that exist in the area.

I have taught self-protection to many college and university students, and the thing that they all have in common, especially young males, is that they don’t realise what kind of people are out there and think that they themselves are indestructible should violence ever pay them a visit. Do not get me wrong I was just the same, at 18 years old, I thought nothing could hurt me or kill me.

Knife crime mainly affects the age group of 17-25 and the reason for that is the no fear factor. The no-fear factor is why young men are happy to join the army and go off to an area of conflict, they honestly believe they are indestructible.

Young girls are also vulnerable, especially when it comes to drink spiking, or simply drinking too much. As I mentioned earlier, when under the influence of alcohol, unwise or simply bad decisions can be made.

Here are a few simple tips.

  • Check out where you are going to be staying both during the night and daylight hours, does it feel safe? Are the streets well-lit? Are there any busy bars nearby? Is it very secluded and off-the-beaten track?
  • If you are staying in university camp residence on site, never let strangers in through the front door if they do not have a passcode, key, or live there. Always keep your door shut and locked if you leave your room, never leave the door ajar to visit a friend down the hallway.
  • Never invite strangers or people you have met on a night out into your room, monsters never reveal themselves until it is too late. I cannot say this enough; do not trust anyone you have just met or do not know, even if they are a friend of a friend. Do not even invite them into the building as you are not only putting yourself at risk but also everyone else in the building.
  • As I have said before always trust your gut instinct, if you are house sharing and house mates bring in guests, try and make sure that you all lay some ground rules before inviting people back and always have a lock on your door to your room when house sharing.
  • Make sure all your housemates keep the house secure and make sure doors are locked and windows are shut when they leave the premises.
  • Do not keep cash in your room or lots of valuable goods such as laptops and luxury brand items on display.
  • Always keep a personal attack alarm on you.
  • Always plan your evening out and decide how you are getting back, and if possible, never walk home on your own. Stay with friends at all times, if possible.
  • Always book a taxi from the venue back to your residence.
  • Never give out personal information to strangers when you are out, especially where you are staying. Not only do you put yourself in danger, but you also put your roommates in danger too.
  • When you are traveling, always walk towards the oncoming traffic. It’s much harder for someone to slow down or stop to bother you, plus you can see if a car starts to slow down near you.
  • Stay aware always. Do not use headphones or have your face stuck down looking at a phone screen.
  • If you are traveling by public transport, always make sure you know when the last train or bus is running.
  • Keep your mobile fully charged and install local taxi numbers and roommates’ numbers.
  • Make sure you have money left over at the end of the night in case of an emergency, and keep cash and credit cards separate.
  • Never accept drinks from strangers, go home with them, or invite them back to yours after a night out!

Do not get separated from the herd

Have you ever watched lions and tigers hunt their prey? They very rarely attack the inside of the herd; they look for the stragglers, the young, and the vulnerable; human predators are no different. When you are out on the town or in an unfamiliar environment, make sure you stay well within the view and range of as many other people as possible. Do not go exploring quiet parts of town, especially when in other countries, towns, or cities you do not know.

A perfect example is when I was in New York and visited areas like the Bronx or Brooklyn. You do not go asking strangers for directions or where this or that is, you are basically saying you don’t know the area and are a tourist, it’s the quickest way to get mugged. Get out of the habit of thinking it will never happen to me. I would even go as far as saying go about your daily life expecting it.

Safety when traveling in a car

Your situational awareness should start the minute you leave your house and close the front door. Some people leave very early for work when it’s still dark, so always be aware of criminals early in the morning waiting for a victim, especially if you live in a secluded area or a flat with communal compound garages. An interesting statistic is that a high percentage of sexual attacks take place between 5:00 am and 8:00 am. This is the time you can be vulnerable with your head in the clouds, thinking about the day ahead, maybe even half-awake, which makes you less aware and an easier target.

Have your key ready long before you reach the car; if you are attacked, you have a weapon, plus you can enter the car quickly without having to fumble around in a bag or pockets. The minute you are inside the vehicle, close the door and get into the habit of locking it.

Always make sure your mobile phone is fully charged, whether leaving home, leaving work, or any other time.

In towns and cities, carjacking is becoming a regular crime statistic; do not become a statistic. High-risk areas are traffic lights, T-junctions, and car parks. If you are waiting and someone approaches the car, do not unlock the door or wind down the window. If you feel you must communicate, only wind down the window one or two inches so you can hear them. Even if a child approaches the car and asks, do not open the door. Criminals will use any means possible to distract you and get what they want. If you are hit from behind again, do not just get out of the vehicle unless you feel it is safe to do so.

If you are driving late at night or in an unpopulated area during the day and you come across an accident, be cautious, do not just unlock and jump out of the car. Park in a safe spot slightly away from the scene, keep your eyes peeled, and call 911 or 999 on your mobile phone. Only after you have called the emergency services should you leave the vehicle if you are 100% certain it’s safe to do so.

If you think you are being followed, do not try to outrun the vehicle you believe to be following you or take lots of different turns. Just head towards a more populated area, such as a town or shopping centre, where there are lots of people. If you are still convinced you are being followed call the police, and, if possible, get the registration number. Whatever you do, do not drive home until you are sure you are not being followed.

When parking your car, pick a location that looks as if it’s well-lit if you are going to be back later in the day. If it’s a car park, steer clear of out-of-way corners or upper levels that will have very few cars in them later at night, a couple of cars on upper car park floors early is a great place for criminals to wait for a victim. If possible, always choose a car park with plenty of CCTV and a parking office. Make sure that when you leave your car, you remember the floor and its location. The last thing you want to be doing is wandering around a parking lot late at night trying to find your car. Always make sure you park your car facing out of the parking space.

Do not leave valuables in your car while you are away from it. If you cannot take them with you, put them in the boot out of sight. When you return to your car with the key ready in your hand, survey the surrounding area and have a quick glance into the rear seat of the car just in case someone has gotten into it to give you a nasty surprise.

No matter how many times you have been there and are familiar with the territory, don’t let down your guard, especially when approaching your vehicle. Make sure you look all around you before you take out your keys or open your car boot, as this is a feeding ground for the scumbag criminals, and you are shopping so they know you probably have credit cards, valuables, cash, or even keys for your car.

Places to steer clear of when parking the car. Corners of car parks with no escape routes, walking up dead-end roads with only walkways as a way out that you are not familiar with, flats

Personal Safety when Dog walking

The same rules apply for people taking their dog for a walk or commercial dog walking businesses; situational awareness is essential. Commercial dog walkers need to be aware that many of the dogs they are given care of are worth a lot of money and will be considered an easy target by criminal gangs. Some dogs can be worth thousands of pounds, so knocking you over the head and doing your damage will not prick the conscience of criminal animal thieves.

There’s no doubt in my mind that even hardened criminals will be cautious about trying to steal an Alsatian, Rottweiler, or one of the more aggressive breeds of dogs from you, but smaller breeds and traditional family pets will not deter criminal gangs looking to make money.

Animal theft is on the increase, so dog walkers need to be fully alert when taking their pets into isolated country areas or parks. Unfortunately, commercial dog walking businesses usually have sign written vans, which makes them easy targets for criminals, so change your routes on a regular basis and try to stay near other dog walkers and people. I know this is hard, as when I take the dogs out for a walk, I like being away from people and other dogs.

Here are a few steps you can take:.

  • The number one thing to do if possible is to always have someone with you, never walk alone if you can help it.
  • Carry a big stick
  • Always keep your dog under control or on a lead.
  • If you are walking along a footpath, make sure you walk towards the oncoming traffic, as this makes it far more difficult for opportunists to stop and attempt to stop any criminal trying their luck
  • If you are approached while walking your dog, always consider that it may not be the dog they are after.
  • Always inform someone where you are going and the route you take.
  • Carry a personal attack alarm at all times. Make sure you pull the pin, and if the attacker comes for it, throw it. They are then left with two choices; find and stop the alarm so you can run or keep coming at you, but the alarm will keep going to draw attention to the situation.
  • The same rules apply as if you were just walking about without a dog; do not walk your dog staring into a phone or going around with headphones on. It takes away all your vital senses.

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