Having given it some careful thought, I’ve come up with my top ten personal safety tips. These include some old chestnuts, some common sense and some sneaky tricks all designed to keep you safe; furthermore you don’t need to be a martial artist or superman to apply them...
1. Don’t behave like a victim.
It is very easy for people that behave like victims to become victims. Predators are always on the lookout for easy targets so don’t give them one. Behaving like a victim might mean typical indicators such as hunched shoulders and starring at the floor / avoiding eye contact. It can be indicators such as having headphones in (reduced awareness) or having your hands jammed in your pockets (not able to move or fight back freely).
2. Have the correct key ready when you are approaching your house or car.
You are very vulnerable when you are focusing your attention on something small so consequently a lot of attacks happen while people are messing about in their handbags looking for their keys or fiddling with locks. Have the correct key ready. Even better, use remote unlocking when approaching your car and have someone waiting to let you in at home with the lights on.
3. Don’t assume that you’re safe at home just because the door is shut.
Always, always lock yourself in and, if you’re going to be upstairs for any length of time, close your lower level windows. Burglars and attackers are not worried about letting themselves into your home, I myself have had my front door tried several times in the past and I owe my safety to remembering to lock my door.
4. Always lock yourself into your car.
Don’t assume you’re safe just because you’re sat in your car, especially if you put your bag on the passenger or back seat. Whenever you get in your car engage the locks straight away before putting on your seatbelt. Don’t disengage them until you have reached your destination and check that the area is safe. I've also had someone try to get into my car with me and I owe my safety to having engaged my locks before I set off.
5. Avoid travelling on your own and risky areas.
Just like the predators of the animal kingdom, human predators will wait until their target is separated from the pack before making their move. When possible always travel with at least one other capable person (this does not include a dog or a child). Also always avoid risky areas; these might include desolate areas, poorly lit areas or simply areas in which you don’t feel safe or comfortable.
6. Wear sensible footwear.
This one is common sense. If you don’t wear shoes in which you can walk and run comfortably, you won’t be able to run away if trouble occurs. Shoes that affect your balance may also hinder your ability to defend yourself.
7. Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to get there.
Quite simply, it can’t be reported to the police that you’re missing if no one is aware that you’re missing. Don’t forget to check in when you safely reach your destination.
8. Be aware of the people around you.
If you feel you are being followed or watched don’t take chances – go into a busy shop or restaurant and call for private transport or arrange for someone to meet you and escort you home. A trick I have used myself is to call someone (or pretend to call someone) and clearly tell them where you are – you can be as creative as you like with the details you add, for example, the number of the bus you are waiting for and perhaps arrange to meet them at the bus stop when you reach your destination.
9. Carry useful items where you can reach them easily.
A rape alarm is no good if it’s buried at the bottom of your bag. Items you may find useful include a pen, a torch, a phone and your keys – although this is not a definitive list. You can find out more about useful self defence items here.
10. Be wary of routine.
If your routine is always exactly the same then stalking / abducting you becomes very easy. I’m not asking you to live an unpredictable life, just make sure you have enough variation so that you aren’t predictable.
This list is not a definitive one and there really is no end to the information available on personal safety. However, the ten tips above are the ones that I consider, personally, to be some of the most important, useful and practical. Try to strike a sane balance between being paranoid and taking sensible precautions.
I hope you find these useful and enlightening. Stay safe!
Leeds Traditional Martial Arts