For most of us, Halloween is a happy holiday when we can go about our evening with little if any consideration of possible security risks. This is actually generally a reasonable approach. Unless you live in certain areas where danger is more prevalent, most of us will pass our days, weeks and years in safety on Halloween.
However, Halloween can be a time when there is an increased risk of life safety incidents. While nothing can keep you completely safe, the following fundamentals can make a real difference in the probability that you will find yourself in danger.
Awareness: Do you notice the people around you? As teens we all learn about defensive driving. Knowing where other cars are on the road and how they behave makes you safer when driving. In the same way, paying attention to the people and activities around you can keep you safer when walking or engaging in other activities in public.
If someone seems to be pacing themselves to stay just behind you or to one side, they may be planning to steal your purse or packages. To address this, simply stop and turn in another direction or change your pace. If the person seems to stay with you, move into a crowded store or restaurant or pause and lean with your back against a wall or window in a crowded area. Chances are any would-be thief will look for other prey.
Alertness: Attackers look for people who are not paying attention and who move casually with no direction. A passive or tired person is also a tempting target. Stride forward with confidence and swing your arms as you walk. Look around and present a strong front through good posture and directed movements. Avoid looking lost or confused. It’s better not to walk and talk or text on your phone. This makes you a tempting and vulnerable target.
If one or several people that appear threatening are moving toward you on your side of the street, cross to the other side before they catch up to you. They may be harmless, but if not you’ve reduced your risk of a confrontation.
Appearance: Avoid wearing expensive jewelry at night in riskier areas. Keep your clothes and accessories simple and unobtrusive. If your appearance goes beyond the standards of the neighborhood, it’s like wearing a billboard saying “money available here.”
If you’re a tourist, don’t advertise the fact with maps, guides or souvenir T-shirts. If you’re lost, stop in a café or restaurant to determine your direction. If you ask for directions, ask a professional in a store. Never ask a child – you may be perceived as potentially predatory.
Baggage: A large purse with no closure at the top is like a gift for a pickpocket. Even if you have a zipper or clasp, keep your hand across it at all times. A clutch purse should be held under the arm like a football. It’s better to avoid large cumbersome handbags. They can limit your mobility and are easy to grab from inattentive hands.
Carry only those credit cards you need, and limit your cash. Have cash stored in several areas of your purse or pockets so you can pull out only what you need for specific transactions. Keep valuables in inside jacket pockets, preferably with buttons or other closures. If someone bumps into you, check immediately to make sure nothing has been taken.
Home Alarm Access: If you have a home security system like Total Connect from Alarmingly Affordable, use a KeyFob to arm and disarm your security system before you arrive and after you leave. This will eliminate time fumbling with keys which can give a dangerous person an opportunity.
With a little effort, these safety measures will become second nature and create a better safety net for you every time you leave your home.