Personal security has been a common topic of conversation in my house. Perhaps it is because my son has been taking martial arts for the past eight years. Or maybe it is simply because I watch the news and my children hear about all of the crazy happenings going on in the world today.
I try to use our talks to teach them about the need to be aware of their surroundings so that they will become alert rather than afraid. It is not always an easy discussion, but I hope it will benefit them in the future. There is, of course, no guarantee that nothing will happen. That is the reality. We can however, be alert and prepared.
So while personal security has been on my mind, I decided it would be a helpful topic for others to consider too. Here are 50+ ways to be safe at home, be safe online, and be safe when out and about. Many of these are personal safety tips from my own arsenal and some are great suggestions that I found online and will be implementing asap. Feel free to add your own in the comments below too!
Be Safe at Home
Lock your doors and windows, and put on your alarm system. (Yes, even when you are at home.)
Make sure your doors are fitted with a secure deadbolt lock.
Keep your car doors locked too, even when the car is in the garage.
When you pull your car into the garage, shut the garage door fully before exiting your car.
Trim shrubs and bushes and use outdoor lighting to eliminate places where a prowler could hide.
Make sure that you can see who is at the front door without having to open the door. Use a peephole that is covered when not in use.
Always ask for a name, identification, and/or a badge number to confirm a person’s identity before letting them in your home.
If someone comes to your home asking to use your phone, offer to make the call yourself instead.
Leave spare keys with a trusted neighbor, rather than under a doormat, in a fake-looking rock, in a planter, or other obvious hiding place. Those are the first places that thieves look for easy access to your home.
Always keep outdoor lights on in the evening. Consider installing motion sensor lights too as those tend to frighten away potential burglars.
Use a dowel or pin to secure sliding glass doors.
Don’t make it easy for a potential thief to take your possessions. Keep your valuable items away from windows where potential thieves can see them, and away from doors.
Mark your possessions with a UV pen. Put your initials or another identifying mark somewhere on the item where it can later be easily identified.
Put contact information on your items in case they are lost rather than stolen, so that they can be returned to you.
Make sure that your personal items are insured in the event that they are taken.
Use timer switches on lights and televisions when you are not at home to give the potential appearance of being there. Stagger the times or set them to irregular intervals.
If you will be away from home, stop the mail and newspaper deliveries. Have a friend or neighbor remove all fliers, packages and other items that might be placed on your door, making it obvious that you are not at home. You may even consider asking a neighbor to use your garbage cans.
Leave on a radio when you are away from home.
Consider secure storage such as a safe or bank deposit box for more valuable and personal items.
Keep a record of all your credit card numbers, bank numbers, and passport number somewhere safe (but not easily attainable) in case they are stolen. If you lose a card or suspect it has been stolen, contact the bank or credit card company immediately.
When destroying old cards, always cut through the chip and magnetic strip.
Invest in a shredder. Carefully destroy any and all papers that contain your personal banking, financial or credit card details. Always keep your receipts and carefully destroy those too when you are done with them.
Get a dog. Many criminals avoid homes with dogs. Some breeds provide better defense than others, so do some research.
Keep your windows clear of shrubbery, so a potential intruder won’t be able to hide in plain sight.
Secure air conditioners so that they can’t easily be pushed in or pulled out of the window.
If a friend is giving you a ride home, ask him or her to wait until you’re safely within the house. Lock the door immediately behind you.
Turn down the volume on your phones. If someone is listening outside and hears it ringing, that person will be alerted to the fact that you are not home.
Keep a locked car parked in the driveway when you are away.
Join your Neighborhood Watch program, or form one if it doesn’t already exist.
If your key won’t easily go into the door lock or your entry is damaged, get away immediately and call the police. Someone may be inside.
If you’re on your way home and suspect you’re being followed, do not go in the direction of your home. Stay on well-lit roads, make several distinct turns to see if they stay behind you, and if so, head directly to the nearest police or fire department.
Reinforce your bedroom door with a secure lock. Keep a cell phone by the bed.
Create an escape plan, especially if you have children. Practice that escape plan.
Be Safe when Out and About
Be alert to what is going on around you. Take notice of anomalies. Use all of your senses. Trust your instincts. When those little hairs on the back of your hair stand up, get away immediately.
Carry some kind of personal alarm with you, such a pepper spray, or a key chain that emits a loud siren.
Tell friends and family members where you are going and when you expect to return.
Keep your cell phone charged.
Watch how much alcohol you drink. Frankly, we are often more likely to do something risky when we are impaired.
Always keep your hand on your drink. Do not let anyone, especially a stranger, get a drink for you, and never leave your drink unattended. We are hearing more about this type of danger with regards to the allegations about comedian Bill Cosby. Sadly, it is a very real tactic for potential abusers and predators.
Don’t only be suspicious of strangers who look mean, keep an eye out for those who are being just a little too nice.
Try to always draw money from cash machines during the day. Check your surroundings when at a cash machine, and be sure to check the cash machine itself for any signs of tampering.
Keep enough money to get home on you in case your purse or wallet gets stolen. It is always a good idea to separate your sources of money.
Always park your car near a well-lit area.
Never leave a club, restaurant, or bar alone. Leave with a group of friends.
Never use your phone in dark, desolate or isolated places. It can distract you from being aware of your surroundings, and that is the most likely time for someone to strike.
If you use public transport to get home, sit near the driver on a bus or a train.
Carry a decoy wallet. In case you are ever held up for your wallet, you can give away one that contains items you wouldn’t mind parting with, such as a few bucks and an expired credit card.
Never keep your wallet or phone in your back pocket. It makes you an easy target for a pick-pocket.
Enroll in a self-defense class so will know what to do in the case that you may need to protect yourself from imminent harm.
Be Safe Online
Be wary. Do not open emails, or texts with attachments if you do not recognize the sender’s email address. Of course, do not respond to anyone who is asking for personal information without knowing exactly who it is and why they are asking.
Keep your personal information personal. Don’t share passwords or codes. Don’t make your codes too obvious or easily attainable either.
Use different passwords for different sites. Make your passwords long and combine letters (uppercase and lowercase) with numbers and symbols. The more complicated it is, the more difficult it is to crack.
Change your passwords whenever you get new electronics, such as a new pc, phone, or tablet – especially if you are handing in your old items when upgrading.
When you get a new item (or if you haven’t done so on your current items), turn on automatic updates for apps and software.
Sync your apps, photos, and contacts to the cloud so they are routinely backed up.
In addition to the cloud, consider copying your most valuable files an external hard-drive.
Java software is constantly being exploited by malware, so if it is currently installed on your computer, you might want to remove it.
When shopping online, look for ‘https:’ in the web address. The “s” stands for “secure.” You can also make sure the site shows a padlock or unbroken key icon. And check the site for a VeriSignTrust seal on the site, which means that the website goes through a daily malware scan. These are all ways to let you know that the site is trustworthy.
Personal security and personal safety is vital, so do what you can to protect yourself and your identity.