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Safety Tips: On The Street

How street smart are you? Do you use walking or driving time to think about work, family, and other things? Do you walk or jog by yourself early in the morning or late at night when the streets are empty? Do you wear headphones while walking or jogging? Do you put your wallet in your jacket pocket or wear your purse over one shoulder? Do you leave your car unlocked when you're only 'running in for a minute'?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, changing some of your habits could improve your personal safety and prevent trouble.

Pay attention!

Whether you are walking or driving, with friends or alone, on the street or in an office building, pay attention to what's going on around you. Keep an eye out for things that look odd or dangerous (strange people or settings) and for things that might come in useful in case of an emergency (such as public phones or stores or restaurants that are open late.)

Trust your instincts.

If something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, leave. Don't trust strangers - don't hitchhike, accept rides, or even accept unasked for assistance (or offer it.) While the majority of people are truly trying to help, criminals often take advantage of people by asking for help or pretending to be helpful.

Act confident.

While no one 'asks' to be a victim, criminals are more likely to attack people who look like easy targets. By acting as though you're calm, confident, aware of your surroundings, and know where you're going, you're sending the message that you aren't an easy target.

Use busy, well-lit streets.

Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys. Walk facing traffic so that a car cannot pull up behind you unnoticed.

Be prepared.

Have your car or house key in your hand before you reach the door. Don't wear shoes and clothing that restrict your movements. Avoid loading yourself down with lots of books or bags that can make it hard for you to see others or move quickly -- it's safer to make several trips.

Keep your possessions hidden or close to your body.

Cover up expensive looking jewelry and avoid flashing large amounts of cash. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not a back pocket.

Don't be afraid to speak up.

If someone harasses you and there are other people around, tell the person loudly to leave you alone. If you think someone is following you, switch directions and get to the nearest place with people (such as an open store, restaurant, or lighted house.) If you're scared, yell for help.

If your schedule keeps you out at odd hours and you can't change it, take extra safety precautions.

Vary your schedule as much as possible. If you work or stay at school late, let others know you are there and, if possible, find a safety buddy with whom you can come and go. If there's no one around, ask a security guard to walk you to your car or transportation. Consider buying a personal attack alarm that you can carry in your hand and use to scare of attackers.

Apply the same safety rules you have for the street and strangers to public transportation.

Public transportation can be a lifesaver, but it too comes with hazards. Make sure that whatever transportation you are taking (taxis, buses, or shuttles) is reputable; never accept rides from 'part-time' drivers or gypsy cabs. Don't wait at unlit bus stops or empty stations. If you ever feel uneasy, leave: don't get in a taxi or on a bus or train; or, ask to be let out in a well-lit area where there are plenty of people. Sit close to the driver if you are on an empty bus or train.

Next: Self-Defense

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