Even if you’ve never taken any self-defense courses, there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself – mainly by being prepared, aware, and savvy.
When walking, keep your purse close to your body. Don’t carry it by the handle or strap. Never leave your purse lying on a counter or in a shopping cart, even if you’re right next to it. A thief can easily grab it and run as you watch. Always keep purse closures fastened. At night, walk only on heavily traveled, well-lighted streets. Avoid wooded parks, dark parking lots, and construction areas after sundown. Walk near the curb rather than near buildings, alleys, or shrubbery.
If you believe you’re being followed as you walk, turn around and look. If you’re in danger, you can prepare to deal with it. If you’re accosted while walking by someone in a car, run in the opposite direction the car is traveling. In the time it takes the car to turn around, you can be gone. Always check for intruders in the back seat of your car before entering. If a car is following you, don’t drive home. Drive to a police, fire or gas station, or any other populated, well-lighted area. Remember your horn is a good alarm. To prevent carjacking, lock all doors when you’re driving. When stopped in traffic, leave enough space between your car and the car ahead for a quick escape. If another driver bumps your vehicle, don’t stop. Drive to the police or fire station, or a well-traveled area to inspect the damage, or attempt to get the vehicle’s license plate number and report it immediately to the police.
If you’re parked in a shopping mall or supermarket parking lot, look around for anyone or anything suspicious before approaching your car. If you feel someone’s watching you, go back to the store and ask someone to walk you out to the parking lot, or call the police. If available, take freeways rather than side streets through high-crime areas. While driving, stay in the center lane. Avoid being blocked into the curb or shoulder lane.
Above all, if there is no escape, don’t resist.
Use strong locks on every door of your home, and a chain lock and/or peephole on all windowless doors. Never open your door until you know who is standing on the other side. Repair or delivery persons can be identified by their identification cards by calling their places of employment. Don’t put your first name on your mailbox or in the telephone directory. Use your initials. When walking to and from your car, have your keys in your hand. Keep the key you intend to use poised in a position so you can use it as a weapon. Know which way your key goes into the lock.
If you find evidence that an intruder has entered your home, DON’T ENTER. Call the police immediately from a nearby house. If you’re hesitant about entering an elevator with a stranger, wait for the next elevator. When in the elevator, stand close to the control panel and know where the alarm is located.
Carry a whistle in your hand or around your wrist. Use it if you feel threatened. Don’t allow anyone to follow you into your building. Just because the person is holding a key, it doesn’t mean the key fits the door to your building. Don’t go to the basement laundry room alone. Do your laundry with a friend.
Inform your babysitter of all precautionary rules you follow. For the safety of the babysitter and your children, insist that these rules be followed in your absence. Do not give personal information to strangers over the phone or let the caller know that you’re home alone. If you receive a “wrong number” call, never disclose your phone number or name. Ask what number the caller is trying to reach and tell him to dial again. If you receive an obscene phone call, hang up immediately and notify the police. If calls persist, keep a whistle near the phone. At the next obscene call, blow the whistle loudly into the mouthpiece.
Your best defense against attack is awareness. Remain alert and aware of your surroundings.