Staying safe when you're away from home

When you're out of the house shopping, driving or walking you could become a victim of street crime. Use these safety tips to help stay safe.

When you're away from home:

  • Don't shop or conduct bank business on the 1st or 15th of the month (that's when government checks and many paychecks are issued). Talk with your bank about setting up a direct deposit system for social security checks, and check with your employer about direct deposit for paychecks.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money, jewelry or valuables while you're out.
  • Leave your important papers at home. Documents such as birth certificates and medical records are difficult for you to replace if you are the victim of a street crime.
  • Walk confidently. Behave in an alert and self-assured fashion. People who appear to know exactly where they are going and are aware of their surroundings are less vulnerable than those who appear timid and confused.
  • Be cautious when approached by strangers.
  • Keep one arm free when you are waiting for a public bus. A number of sex assault victims have been abducted from bus stops. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes in case you must flee and pay close attention to what is going on around you. Also, put a whistle on your keychain and have it handy for emergency use.
  • Avoid getting into an elevator alone with a stranger. If you must get into the elevator alone, stand near the control panel. If you become suspicious or feel threatened, push all the buttons so that the elevator will stop at the next floor and exit the elevator immediately. Ring the bell in an emergency.
  • When traveling, use credit cards instead of cash. Always travel with a companion.
  • Keep your distance from drivers who stop you to ask for directions. Stay out of the person's reach by remaining a few feet from the vehicle.

When you're driving:

  • Drive with your car doors locked.
  • Don't become a creature of habit: vary your driving/walking route when commuting to work, shopping or conducting personal business.
  • Don't leave your car keys or valuables in an unattended automobile, and don't leave packages where they will be visible to thieves. Lock all valuables inside your trunk, or better yet, take them home.
  • If you become lost while driving or walking, get to the nearest public place and ask for directions.
  • Never leave small children unattended in your vehicle, not even for a minute.
  • Park your car or walk only in well-lit, populated areas. Avoid dark, deserted areas. Have your car keys in hand before approaching your vehicle. Place a whistle on your keychain for emergency use.
  • Check your surroundings before venturing into parking lots or other unfamiliar areas. If you observe something suspicious, remain indoors and report it immediately.
  • Check the back seat of your car before entering.

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