Current news stories remind me that even in this age of empowerment, women can be quite vulnerable. Here are a few of my favorite steps toward safety and security while we are taking our place in the world – courtesy of the many law enforcement officers in my life:
Resist the urge to check email or play Solitaire the whole time you wait in line at the DMV. Glance up every few moments and stay aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to the people around you, and locate the emergency exits. If someone near you sends off a bad vibe, move away. This holds true in social situations, or while waiting for your friend at the mall, or anytime you are alone in a crowd.
Lock Your Car
Obviously, someone could steal your valuables. But I even lock my empty car when it is sitting in front of the house. My garage door opener would be a handy invitation for a thief to walk into the house. And, no matter how much you trust your neighbors, never leave your car running to get it warm. The bad guys cruise on cold mornings just looking for people like us.
Listen to Your Instincts
If something or someone doesn’t feel right, trust yourself. It might be slightly embarrassing to step off the elevator and wait for the next one, but better to look silly than suffer worse consequences. Excuse yourself from a meeting room if you are alone with someone and it starts to feel creepy. You don’t have to say why. “I need to step out for a minute,” works fine. Grab your phone as if it is buzzing if that helps you be brave. If the creeper is your boss, and you have to go back, invent an excuse to bring someone with you. “I asked Jan to help me take notes.” Then, find a new job.
As much as possible, avoid being alone – even if you are. Leave work the same time your colleagues do and walk with them to the parking lot. If you have to stay late, call a security guard to escort you. Park under the lights at Target. Leaving the gym, wait until a couple of people exit and then tag along right behind them. Cross the street to walk with the crowd. Team up with a friend to go for a run. Share a tracker app with family members or friends so that someone knows where you are. (We use Life360). When you open the door for pizza delivery, shout to the imaginary person in the next room and tell them to pause Netflix for you.
I hope these tips help you to start thinking strategically. In the end, we trust God to protect us, but I think He trusts us to be smart.