Travel & Activities

Practical Self-Defense Tips from Top Women’s Safety Experts

These safety tips are especially relevant to our women over 50. Here’s our recent interview.
Dianne: Getting in and out of our cars is one constant in most of our lives. What should we watch for in public or company garages?

The Vegas: Look to see if the garage is equipped with cameras or a security booth & try to park close to one or both of them. Avoid parking next to oversize vehicles or vans that might block the view of your car and of course try to park under a light. If possible park in the busiest areas.

Dianne: Speaking of cars, what should we be aware of?

The Vegas: Always be suspicious of cars and people parked near you. Here is how to prevent someone from following you. Everyone should always look in your rear view mirror once in awhile to see if the same car is behind you for an extended period of time. Make a few turns to confirm if that car is truly following you. If so don’t go home, call the police with your cell phone and drive to a populated area, police or fire station when possible. If possible get the license plate number and a description of the person in the vehicle. Never approach this person. That is job of your police department.

Dianne: How can we think ahead to prepare for dangers that could happen?

The Vegas: Always follow these two simple rules. The Number One rule is to keep your distance from anyone you feel could be a threat no matter what they say or look like. The Number Two rule is to trust your instincts they are usually right. If it does not feel right, it probably is not. Don’t worry about that person’s feelings. You can always apologize later. In addition always keep your cell phone with you and we recommend you carry pepper spray on your key chain which forces you to take it out every time you go in and out of your car. It’s legal in all 50 states and not lethal, you can always apologize if you accidentally spray the wrong person.

Dianne: What should we do when an emergency does happen – even a flat tire, running out of gas, a fender bender?

The Vegas: Stay in your car and call for assistance. If someone does approach your vehicle, crack the window slightly and let them know help is on the way. In the case of a fender bender, drive to an area that is well traveled and where you feel comfortable. Many times bad guys use fender benders as a way to get you out of your car. It could be an attempt to steal your car, rob you or worse.

Dianne: What about elevators?

The Vegas: If you are already in an elevator or waiting to get in and someone makes you uncomfortable, step off or wait for the next one. You certainly don’t owe a stranger an excuse for your elevator etiquette. Trust your instincts!

Dianne: The activity in a shopping mall can be very distracting. Are there special things to watch for?

The Vegas: Absolutely! Is there someone who is trying to be too helpful? They might be trying to distract you so they can steal your wallet. Always keep your purse zipped. If it’s in a cart, wrap the baby strap around it or put it under the items in your cart. Make it difficult for you to become a victim!

Dianne: What about airports or train depots?

The Vegas: Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t get distracted with your blackberries or iPads, thief’s are looking for easy victims. Make sure items such as your license, boarding pass, or passport are secured after your show them to authorities. Don’t make yourself an easy target.

The Vegas: Upsideof50 viewers are active women over 50. Traveling alone is pretty common for many of us now. What should we watch for in hotels and motels?

The Vegas: Don’t tell strangers that you are traveling alone instead use the “we” factor. Don’t let the front desk attendant publicize your room number. If he or she announces it out loud when giving you your key, ask for a different room. Avoid staying on the first floor. Many safety experts recommend staying somewhere between the third and sixth floors — where rooms are high enough to be difficult to break into, but not so high that they’re out of the reach of most fire engine ladders.

Do not trust someone claiming to be a hotel employee if you are not expecting one. If you are unsure, call the front desk to check. Leave the security chain engaged while opening the door for further protection. When you leave the room, leave the TV or radio on, or put your “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door; both of these tricks will give potential thieves the impression that you’re still there. (You can contact the front desk to arrange a housekeeping visit even if the “Do Not Disturb” sign is up.)

Dianne: Everyone was horrified when twice recently someone was pushed onto New York subway tracks by a stranger. I know that’s unusual but terrifying. But it makes us ask how we could we best protect ourselves in an encounter with a disturbed person?

The Vegas: There are no guarantees but being aware & prepared are great first steps! Disturbed people don’t always look like they do in the movies. Don’t ever allow anyone into your personal space. Keep your distance! Sometimes this can be difficult in crowded areas but we are talking about your personal safety so take the time and effort needed to prevent an attack. Try to position something or someone between you and the person who is making you feel uncomfortable and carry pepper spray. A few seconds of something bad happening to you will change the rest of your life.

Dianne: And speaking of the really scary events, what if someone actually grabs you.

The Vegas: Our program is about empowering women and teaching them how to simply ESCAPE! The video below gives a step by step visual of how to accomplish this with the most common type of grab. Try practicing along with the video!

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