Here are some questions to help you explore your personal safety. Just to make it easy, you should be answering yes to all of the following questions. If you answer no, have a closer look at the item to see if that is really how you wish to handle the situation.
- Do you keep doors and windows locked at all times?
- Do you have a peephole so that you can see who is outside without having to open the door?
- Do you verify a person’s identification before opening the door?
- If a stranger asks to use your phone, do you refuse to let them into your home and offer to make the call yourself?
- Do you, as a woman living alone, use your first initials only in telephone directories, on mailboxes, etc.?
- Do you refuse to reveal personal information to anyone on the phone or at your door?
- Do you always have your keys ready when approaching your home?
- If you return home to find windows and doors tampered with, would you avoid entering and go to a neighbour’s house to call the police?
On the Phone
- Do you teach family members not to give personal or family information to strangers over the phone?
- Do you instruct older children who are babysitting or the babysitter to always say that you are at home, but busy and so they will take a message?
- Do you record only non-specific messages on your answering machine and avoid messages such as: “We’ll be back around 7 o’clock on Sunday”?
- Do you use the telephone company’s ‘Caller ID’ feature?
- If you receive an obscene or crank call, would you hang up immediately, saying nothing?
On the Go
- Do you plan in advance the safest route to your destination?
- Do you choose busy, well-lit streets?
- Do you avoid routes that pass by high-risk areas?
- Do you avoid isolated bus stops?
- Do you walk facing traffic so you can see approaching cars?
- Do you walk near the curb to avoid the element of surprise or someone hiding between shrubs or in a doorway?
- Do you stay out of reach if someone in a vehicle asks directions?
- Are you wary of approaching strangers?
- If you continue to be followed, do you flee to the nearest safe place?
- Do you try to get a description of the person and/or vehicle following you?
- Do you avoid carrying large sums of money in your purse or wallet?
- Do you carry your purse close to your body, without wrapping the straps around your arm or hand?
- Do you avoid leaving a purse unattended, even for a moment?
- Do you avoid displaying large amounts of cash in public?
In Your Car
- Do you always lock your car doors while driving?
- Do you keep windows rolled up whenever possible?
- Do you avoid picking up hitchhikers?
- Do you keep your car in good running order to avoid breakdowns in dangerous areas?
- Do you look for well-lit areas to park your car?
- Do you always lock your car when it is parked?
- Do you look around the car before you get out, especially at night or in deserted areas such as underground parking lots?
- When returning to your car, do you have your keys in hand?
- Do you look in the back seat before getting into the car?
- If you are being followed, do you avoid going home and go to the nearest place of safety instead?
Places of Public Assembly
Before you enter
- Take a good look. Does the building you enter appear to be in a condition that makes you feel comfortable? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of materials stored against the building or blocking exits?
- Have a communication plan. Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency and you are separated from family or friends.
- Plan a meeting place. Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the function. If there is an emergency, be sure to meet them there.
When you enter
- Take a good look. Locate exits immediately. When you enter a building you should look for all available exits. Some exits may be in front and some in back of you. Be prepared to use your closest exit. You may not be able to use the main exit.
- Check for clear exit paths. Make sure aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained. If there are not at least two exits or exit paths are blocked, report the violation to management and leave the building if it is not immediately addressed.
- Do you feel safe? Does the building appear to be overcrowded? Are there fire sources such as candles burning, cigarettes or cigars burning, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that make you feel unsafe? If you do not feel safe in the building, leave immediately.