“Being distracted makes you a soft target. Criminals are always on the lookout for soft or vulnerable targets, and will take advantage if you are not paying attention to your surroundings. Being aware of potential threats is the first and most effective line of defence for anyone,” says Fidelity ADT’s District Manager (Cape Town North) Verena Hulme.
Hulme recommends cutting out distractions as far as possible and reasonable. This includes taking or making phone calls while driving, especially if you have children in the vehicle.
“Put your phone away when out and about. Speaking on the phone while putting your kids or shopping into the car, for example, means you are concentrating on the call and not keeping an eye on your surroundings. It presents criminals with a great opportunity to hijack you or make off with your belongings.”
While driving, make sure your doors are locked and any valuable items are placed under the seat or in the boot, out of sight. If you are approaching your house, be on the lookout for any suspicious persons and rather drive around the block if you don’t feel safe. It is also important to stay on the road, rather than in your driveway, when waiting for the gate to open.
Hulme adds that it’s also a good thing to change your driving routes and leaving times every now and again.
“We are creatures of habit which makes us predictable. Criminals scoping out your house will be able to know exactly when you leave and arrive and which routes you take. Keep them guessing by leaving perhaps slightly earlier or later and taking different routes to drop the kids at school, for example. The same applies to things such as your running routes and times, gym visits, and even your locking up and leaving routine.”
She says that intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people, especially ladies should trust their instincts; if a situation doesn’t feel safe, it probably isn’t. Hulme says that if confronted by a criminal, escape is always the best option.
“If you are able to, run away, yell for help – do whatever you can to attract attention. If the criminal is after your purse or other items hand them over or throw them in one direction and run in the other.
“When possible tell someone where you are going and the time you expect to return. Save emergency numbers on your phone and try to memorise at least one contact number you can call in the event of an emergency. Remember less is more when it comes to wearing flashy jewellery and carrying cash. If you are taking a handbag, carry it close to your body and not dangling by the straps,” she says.
By exercising these precautions, Hulme believes women can develop very good safety habits that will assist them in avoiding dangerous situations.
“I encourage women to not only use these tips but to share them with family and friends. Most importantly trust your instincts. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, get away or get help,” she concludes.
Hulme summarised the most important safety tips:
• Trust your instinct. Women have great intuition and should listen to their instincts. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, avoid the individual and leave the area
• Make contact with your private security service provider and ask them if they offer a mobile panic alarm service, which could be downloaded to your mobile phone
• Tell someone where you are going and the time you expect to return. Save to your mobile phone or memorise the details of the person to be contacted in the event of an emergency
• Be aware of people around you when heading to your vehicle, especially at places such as shopping centres, petrol stations, and the likes. Ensure that you take a moment to check the street before pulling into a driveway
• If you are driving, the first thing to do once you are inside your vehicle is to ensure that all the doors are locked. Never drive with a handbag or any other valuable items on a seat or in the view of anyone looking into your vehicle from the outside. Try and make your car a mobile-free zone so you can concentrate on your surroundings
Manager - Harfield Village Community Improvement District (HVCID)
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