January is Personal Self Defense Awareness month. In 2014, according to FBI statistics, a violent crime occurred every 26.3 seconds. It’s important to consider some ways to keep yourself safe when you are out and about. A couple of tips can help you feel more secure and confident when you’re out, which can also help you appear like less of a target for violent criminals.
Scan your setting: Notice your surroundings, including where there are dark areas, places people could hide and hazards of any kind. Aim to travel through well-lit areas where you are not alone. Assessing your risks and minimizing them whenever possible is essential.
Be aware: Many people listen to music or pretend to be on the phone to avoid being a target. These things however, can actually make you look more distracted and therefore an easier target. Make it clear that you are paying attention to your surrounding and that you aren’t easy to sneak up on.
Have your hands available: If at all possible make sure you have one or both of your hands available so it’s easier to defend yourself if you must. If you want to be more comfortable physically defending yourself, try a self-defense class.
Be careful around “transitions”: Another time you may be an easy target is when you are transitioning: getting into your car, unlocking your door, etc. Make sure you have your keys in-hand or easily accessible well in advance so you don’t have to search for them, making it clear that you’re not focused on what’s going on around you. Any way you can minimize the fumbling involved in getting in and out of safe spaces, the better. Home automation can help you with this in your home and there are also keyless entry options in some vehicles.
Have some sort of panic device/options: There are various apps that help you stay secure. “Stay Safe” is an app that lets you input your expected route and travel time and requires you to check in with the app when that time is up. If you don’t check in for some reason, the app alerts the emergency contacts you set up so they can try to get in contact with you. There are also panic apps like “My Panic Alarm” that turn your phone into a panic beacon with sound and flashing lights if you touch its icon.