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Shopping and Driving Safety Tips…

September 21, 2010 1 comment

Shopping and Driving Safety Tips…

No one wants to become a victim of crime. Robbery, assault, burglary and theft are crimes that can happen to unaware citizens. Please take a few minutes to learn some tips on shopping safely.
Before You Leave Home .

*Plan your shopping trip carefully. Know where you are going and what routes you will take to get there.
*If possible, arrange for a companion to go with you. There is safety in numbers.
*Let someone know where you are going and what route you are taking. Additionally, let them know when you expect to return.

When You Are Driving .

*Keep all your doors locked at all times.
*Choose a well-lit and traveled route even if you believe it is out of your way.
*Never allow your fuel tank to become less than half full.
*Never pick up hitch hikers.
*Do not stop to help strangers. Call the police to assist them.
*Avoid confrontations with strangers or with others who might seek to follow you to continue the confrontation.

When You Park Your Car .

*Park in a well-lit area.
*If you are parking during the day and returning to your car after dark, check for street and building lights.
*ALWAYS lock all your doors.
*Remove all electronic items, such as calculators, radar detectors, and all packages from your car. Place them in the trunk or glove compartment, out of sight.
*Avoid parking near vans or other vehicles with covered cargo areas.
*Look around the parking lot for suspicious persons before you get out of your car.
*Avoid carrying large handbags. Carry only what is necessary.
*Shop in groups whenever possible. Use the “buddy system”.
*Don’t get out of your car until you are ready. If you don’t feel safe, stay in the car or drive away.

When You Return to Your Car .

*Never leave the store with your arms full of packages. Use a courtesy cart.
*Have your car key in hand, ready to unlock your door.
*Check the parking lot for suspicious people and look around before you exit the store.
*If you feel unsafe, always ask the store security to assist you to your car.
*If you are parked near a van or other vehicle with a covered cargo area, it is a good idea to return to the store and ask a security officer to accompany you.
*Check underneath, in front and in back of your car before you enter it.
*Check the front and rear passenger seats inside your car before you enter it.
*Place all packages in the trunk compartment and out of sight.

When You Are Returning Home.

*Frequently check your rear-view mirror to see if you are being followed. If you feel like you are being followed, DO NOT go home. Drive to the nearest police station, fire station or other place of safety.
*Use your cellular telephone, if you have one, to call the police. Try to obtain a license plate number, how many people are in the car and a good description of the car that you believe is following you.  Please remember that you do not have to have a plan with a cellular phone company to dial 911.  If you do not have a plan obtain a used cell phone, keep it charged and set the speed dial to 911.

If Your Car Breaks Down .

*If you are off the roadway, raise the hood of your vehicle then get back into your car and lock the doors.
*If you have a cellular telephone, call for help.
*If a stranger stops, lower the window only enough to allow you to request that they contact the police for you. REFUSE ALL OTHER HELP.
*If someone tries to force their way into your car, turn on your headlights and begin blinking them and blow your horn at the same time to attract attention and help.

Also.

*Avoid carrying cash. Use a debit card or checks whenever you can. Carry only those credit cards that are necessary for the store you shop.

Back-To-School Safety Tips…

August 24, 2010 Comments off

Back-To-School Safety Tips…

It’s hard to believe but it’s true, we are in full swing of back-to-school.  So, let’s review some basic safety tips that adults and kids need to keep in mind at all times.

Locking Up The Home and Loading Up The Kids

Here’s an important back-to-school reminder: before you walk or load the kids up for the drive to the bus stop or school, lock your doors. Those few minutes that you are away from home can be the perfect morning stop for a burglar. It may seem overly cautious to lock windows and doors when leaving for such a short time period, but the time spent doing this can deter a burglar and prevent some major problems later.

Establish the habit of basic security when leaving the house in the morning. Parents or daycare providers could make the procedure a learning experience for the children. Many people have a morning checklist to make things simpler during that early morning rush hour. Why not add a security checklist to your morning routine? Depending on the age or ages of the children, let them help you get out of the house by giving them a task that relates to their security.

The Cop Doc, Richard Weinblatt suggested in an interview for back-to-school safety, every morning just prior to the kids leaving for school, snap a picture of your children with your cell phone camera or digital camera.  This is an awesome pro-active measure that everyone should get into the habit of.  Just this simple daily picture is an amazing lead for police, God forbid something should happen to your child at school, on the way home from school – even at the mall or event.  We all know how those little ones love to hide in the clothes racks.  A daily up-to-date picture.

Older children should check and lock the windows, while the younger ones can see if the doors are locked behind you when you leave.

When you are on the way to and from school, keep watch on what is going on in your neighborhood. Look for strangers who seem to be lurking on the sidewalk, with no real purpose. Watch for cars driving slowly through the neighborhood. They might be sizing up potential targets. If you are concerned, dial 911 as soon as you return home, or on your cell phone if you have one. Try to provide a basic description of the individual or car that worries you. It will help police if they have this information.

Do not think that burglars work only at night, in the dark. They are opportunists, and will look for likely targets at any time of the day. In fact, many burglars strike during daylight hours when they believe all the occupants of a house may be at school or work. Make their life harder by taking these basic crime prevention measures.

Educate Your Children About School Safety

Officers are routinely trained in child safety and missing children investigations. With the start of the new school year, they are sharing this information with parents.

Although the Police Departments educate our children in school on stranger danger, learning about community helpers, and several other child safety topics, parents can also help. The following tips are just a few suggestions:

  • Be aware of putting your child’s name on anything that is readily visible. This might allow an abductor to get on a “first name” basis with your child and develop a sense of trust.
  • Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out safe places to go if they are being followed or need help.
  • Talk to your children about strangers approaching them and some of the ploys they might use.  Stress to them that adults shouldn’t need a child’s help to find a puppy or get directions; they should ask another adult for that information.
  • Teach your children that it is okay to say NO – tell them to trust their instincts.
  • Remind your children to never give the impression they are home alone if strangers telephone or come to the door.  Never open the door for a stranger, and teach them about dialing 911.

Have a wonderful, safe new school year.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Born To Run…

July 6, 2010 Comments off

Born To Run…

With the excessive humidity and heat in the recent few weeks joggers have made smart changes to their schedules. Some are running earlier in the morning or later in the early evening before dusk/dark. Every jogger has his or her favorite route like the path that winds around the park or next to the lake. Now, however female joggers who run in Canal State Park, south of Lambertville, Central New Jersey realize that it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is when it pertains to victimization. Anyone thinking that assaults do not happen in “broad daylight” needs to “wake up and smell the coffee”. Assaults CAN and DO happen at any time of the day or night. Assailants have become more bold than ever.

Around 8pm last Wednesday a 47-year-old female jogger from Lambertville was attacked on the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park “towpath”, (trail on the bank of the canal) south of Lambertville. The victim was dragged into the woods and beat. The victim suffered numerous injuries. Authorities believe that the assailant was sitting on a bench as the victim passed by. The victim was treated at a local hospital and has been released.

Chief Hurley for the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office stated, “The victim’s courageous acts in defending herself may have saved her life and stopped additional crimes from happening to her. The actual motive for this severe attack is yet to be determined.”

The assailant fled the scene on foot. Police have issued this sketch and the description of the suspect. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5’6″-5’8″, 140-160lbs., between the ages of 20-30, olive skin, brown flat-top style hair and wearing a dark polo shirt.

First and foremost, I was relieved to learn that the victim is doing as well as can be expected and that she is alive. She has a road ahead of her as she heals from her physical injuries which will fade but the emotional and mental trauma that she has begun to deal with will be with her the rest of her life. With professional assistance she will regain her emotional strength but the scars that this man has left is etched in her soul. She has demonstrated some pertinent information that all should take note of.

She knew exactly where she was, she knew her exact location. She fought back, “element of surprise”…her assailant obviously was caught off guard with her reaction because he didn’t think that she would resist and fled. You can bet that she had plenty of DNA! The vivid description that she has supplied to the authorities is unbelievable. She made a mental blueprint of him over and over in her mind – she didn’t “block out” anything. And, she remembered someone sitting on a bench where she had jogged. Read again her description. Talk about determination! She did not become frozen in fear. The warrior mentality kicked in and she knew that if anyone was going to save her that it was going to have to be her.

Female runners must know when to be extra alert and never let your defenses down. I know how pleasant it is to run along a river or around a lake but the reality is that becoming isolated is not to your advantage. For an entire run you should always stay on main streets where there are plenty of cars and pedestrians. Possible witnesses deter many attackers. Constantly scan your surroundings. Who is in front of you and to your sides? Do you hear someone close behind? AWARENESS. You must consider every face a potential threat. This doesn’t mean that your should aggressively stare-down the old woman crossing the street, but that smiling, well-dressed man could be the one to pull you off into the nearest alley. Always be prepared for the worst.

As though you don’t have enough to pay attention to already, don’t ever forget to keep track of where you are going. Keep an eye out for recognizable landmarks or duck into a bustling shop to ask for directions. Do not run yourself out of breath as you’ll want a little extra wind to pick up the pace if you suspect that you are being followed.

Personal safety for females requires a hunted vs. the hunter attitude – a constant alertness for the lion crouched in the shadows. Many females find the stress of survival anti-productive to what is supposed to be a leisurely run and, in turn, opt for the gym. But for those avid female runners who can’t possibly take the sterile treadmill, following smart safety tips will literally keep you on your toes.

Additional safety tips for runners are:
  • Use the Buddy system – pair up with a friend/family member/neighbor/another jogger.
  • Visibility – make yourself visible to automobiles and to the public any time just prior to sunset/dusk – deck yourself in phosphorescent yellow. I know…..it’s not the best choice of fashion but it does make you highly visible. Better yet…time yourself so that you are back at your starting point before sunset/dusk.
  • Cellphone – ALWAYS carry a cellphone with you in a holder on your hip to give yourself emergency access to help.
  • Identification – obtain “runner ID’s”, get one or be sure to put your driver’s license/identification into your pocket or sock. Do not go anywhere without your ID.
  • Communicate – tell, text or jot a note to someone close to you what route you will be taking and an approximate time that you should be expected back. Instruct those individuals to come looking for you if you do not communicate when you are expected back and to notify the authorities immediately.
  • Senses, use them – Do not take away ANY of your senses. This means to leave your earbuds and iPod at home, save it for the gym. Using earbuds is an outward expression to any assailant that you are not paying attention to your surroundings. And, the leads from your device to your ears can be used against you, they can be used to strangle you. You must use your eyes, ears, nose, hearing and your awareness/intuition so that you can remain safe and aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Intuition – trust your “gut”, if it doesn’t feel right then you intuition is speaking to you; get away from the impending danger immediately.
  • Verbalize – If you feel that someone is approaching you and your safety is at risk, be heard. Commit and with a stern voice and state, “Don’t come any closer” – you have to set your own personal boundaries and you have every right to protect that boundary. If they do not back off start to yell “Fire….Get away from me….”, make a scene and a loud one; there is no debating whatsoever. Your goal is to respond to hostile language in a way that doesn’t set you up as a victim and doesn’t reward the attacker. Learning verbal de-escalation is an invaluable tool for your toolbox.
  • FIGHT, DOING SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING! – I pray that you will never have to fight an assailant, if you do – go for the head, eyes, nose, throat, knees (groin being the last because males expect females to go there first) getting DNA with every strike, scratching (use you nails) and biting (you have teeth, use them). And yes…….take a personal safety course to learn “realistic un-armed self-defense” so that you will always be educated and know how to protect and defend yourself. IT’S YOUR RIGHT AND YOU ARE WORTH IT!
  • Police/Report – EVERY altercation or assault must be reported and you must seek proper medical attention and emotional support. Remember….IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You did not “ask” for an assault to happen.  It is imperative for the person who assaults an individual to be found and charged, if not…..you won’t be the last.

How Safe Are You?

December 5, 2009 Comments off

How many times have we heard someone (possibly ourselves) ask, “Why do I have to learn about safety?  I’ve heard or read about females being more safe.”  If you have learned about personal safety many still allow themselves to get lazy; if you haven’t had the opportunity to learn, well it’s time to make the time to listen and learn.

According to Justice Department reports, many of us will be victims of violent crimes, and almost all of us will be the victim of theft or at least once other crime in our lifetime.  The odds may be stacked against us, but there are things that we can do to protect ourselves, our families and our property, making us less likely to be prey to the often opportunistic and cunning thug.

No matter how prepared we we are, bad things can still happen.  Recently a female was reminded of this the hard way.  After leaving her car in a well-lit parking lot, with security guards patrolling, she returned to find the passenger window busted in.  A lot of things were stolen.  She felt like she had been kicked in the gut – violated.  Sure, she heard about this happening to other people, but this kind is the kind of thing that “won’t happen to me”.

Looking back, she often wonders about other situations that she might have put herself into without realizing it.  What if someone was still in the car?  She didn’t look that closely when she was approaching the car.

What if the thief had a gun?

The victimization (abduction, rape, sexual assault, robbery, etc.) could have been so much worse.  Is it so difficult to just be a little bit more careful?

Whatever your daily routine, it is just that – routine.  By definition, this means you are performing through habit without much thought, and that’s where problems can arise.  Criminals prefer easy targets, and if your mind is wandering, it’s not likely that you’ll notice an assailant approaching until it’s too late.  Here are some things to keep in mind while going about your day and especially during the Holidays.

Out and about:

  • Stay alert.  Wherever you are — on the street, in your car, in the mall — be aware of your surroundings.  (Keeping your head on a swivel isn’t just for the flight deck.)  Send a message that you’re calm, confident and know where you’re going.
  • Trust your instincts!  Don’t worry about being polite or hurting someone’s feelings if you feel threatened.  If someone or something make you feel uneasy, avoid the person or leave the area.
  • Get to know the neighborhoods where you live and work.  Make mental notes of police stations, hospitals and other areas to go in case of an emergency.
  • Stick to well-traveled, well-lit streets.  Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots or alleys.  Walk close to the curb and away from alleys, doorways, etc.
  • Keep valuables close.  Carry your purse close to your body.  Put your wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not a back pocket.
  • Don’t wear shoes or items of clothing that restrict your movements.
  • Take the elevator of the stairs, and stand at the back of the elevator so that you can see everything that is happening around you at all times – you are more prepared to react knowing your surroundings.  If you someone gets on who makes you feel uncomfortable (gut instinct), get off.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street.  Walk toward an open store, restaurant or lighted house.  If you’re scared, yell, “Fire!”  People respond better to calls of fire than yells for help.  And, ultimately if you are trained in personal safety, turn around and in a stern voice ask, “Are you following me?”  Confront the assailant or suspicious person twenty feet behind you rather than two feet.
  • Always keep your distance.  Be ware of anyone who asks for directions or assistance.
  • Avoid overburdening yourself with packages.  Females feel that they can make it in one trip and neither hand/arm is free to ward off an assailant.  Always have one arm free at all times.  If you have a lot to bring with you, make several trips or ask for help from the security guard, grocery store attendant, family member.
  • If you are working late, make sure that there are others in the building.  Ask someone you trust to walk you to your car or bus stop.
  • Never secure your office alone.  If you must secure the office at the end of the day, have a partner or a security person with you to get you safely to your car.
  • Have you keys in hand before you reach the door of your house or car.

Driving:

  • Avoid driving alone at night.
  • Get a cell phone, keep it charged and keep in handy (preferably in case on your person/clothing).
  • Keep your car in good running order.  Make sure that you have enough gas to get where you are going and back.
  • If your car does break down, lock your doors and call for help.  If a stranger offers help, stay in the car and keep it locked!  Tell them they can help by calling for assistance if you haven’t already done it yourself.
  • Don’t stop to help a stranger whose car is broken down.  Help instead by call the police and reporting the situation.
  • Avoid parking next to van, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.
  • Before getting into your car in a parking lot or garage, look around.  If there’s a van parked next to you, get into your car from the opposite side.  Do the same if someone’s sitting in the care next to yours and it makes you feel uneasy (gut instincts/intuition).
  • Remember where you park so you are not wandering around the parking lot.
  • When getting out of the car, always roll up the windows and lock the doors, even if you are coming right back.
  • Avoid parking in isolated areas.  Be especially alert in lots and underground parking garages.
  • When stopped at traffic lights, keep the car in gear so you can take off if someone tries to get into your car.
  • If you think you’re being followed, don’t head home.  Drive to the nearest police station, fire station or an open business and get help.
  • Be cautious when using highway rest areas.  If it’s desolate, drive on to the next rest stop or gas station if at all possible.
  • Never leave valuables in plan view.  Put them in the trunk or out of sight.
  • Try to park in a garage with an attendant.  Leave only the valet your ignition key, with no identification in the glove compartment, etc.  This is also true for car repairs – leave the ignition key only!
  • Plan ahead.  When making long trips allow ample time to reach your destination.  Let someone know of your departure time and expected arrival time.
  • Don’t hitchike.  Never pick up strangers or hitchhikers.

At the Automated Teller Machine (ATM):

  • Use ATM machines in the daytime (half of the ATM crimes happen between 7 p.m. and midnight).  Have your card in hand so that you don’t have to take out your wallet, and don’t set your wallet down.
  • If at all possible use the ATM machines that you can access by driving up to rather than those that you walk up to/into.
  • If you notice while using the ATM that someone or others have approached, (follow your gut!) hit the cancel button and make a scene (while removing your card) to the effect that you can’t believe that he/she took all of your damn money!  Go ballistic while walking away – causing a scene indicates that you are already pissed off and that you don’t have any money anyway.  Get your car immediately, get inside and LOCK THE DOORS!  Immediately leave!
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