Search This Blog

Friday, August 6, 2010

How To Stay Safe In A World Of Distractions

Make sure your safety
doesn't fall through the cracks.

On a daily basis, I'm not sure how many things I should be doing at one time. It feels perfectly natural to read 4 different websites, sit in the lotus position while engaging in social media outlets, watch tv, check mail, do 8 million things on my phone AND cook all at the same time. If I were less honest, I'd triumph my abilities to divide my attentions and bestow peon status to anyone unable to do (well), the billions of things that I juggle (not as well) daily. We all want to be a superwoman, Stevie, but too often we put ourselves in jeopardy attempting to compartmentalize moments in our day. One of my former colleagues has termed it "single woman" moves (and yes...married women engage in the same juggling act). When I asked her to explain, she provided this telling sign of how often our attention is divided: First thing in the morning, you're running out of the house, making sure curlers are removed, double checking purse, pocket and bra for your phone, money and the backs of your earrings. Later, while buying groceries, you forget if mom's cornbread recipe uses brown sugar or granulated sugar, so you call and catch up on a conversation from 3 days ago while bagging, carrying and loading your groceries...only to repeat the process (also on the phone) while unloading the car, leaving not one of the 15 bags behind and remembering to walk with your tummy sucked in.

And this is just the beginning.
If asked, "What's wrong with this picture"? Most of us balk at having to call mom for the cornbread recipe. We aren't cooking after a 10 hour day!  We wouldn't see much of a problem. Which IS the problem. Inattention is one of the leading culprits cited by burglars, rapist and thieves when asked to identify their potential victims...and ladies, we outweight men as "victims". Women populate the victimology statistic because the SuperWoman myth and our tendency to view all humans as humane gives the "benefit of the doubt".
Be aware. Frequently, I'm called "over cautious" or "hypervigilant" because I'm looking into shrubs, opened garage doors, abandoned cars and trees...(yes, trees!). I want to be aware of any potential harm and I've adopted a rotating 360 degree sphere of observation, to secure myself and those around me. Problem numbers 1, 2, 3 through 7 with the above scenario, involve an inability monitor one's surroundings while retrieving "important" articles. And if accosted, the provided scenario, leaves one woefully unprepared for defense, be it fight or flight. Here are a few safey "how to's" designed to make you more aware of your surroundings, your actions and things you can do to improve your chances of avoiding tree dwelling strangers on any given day.
Motion sensitive lighting can
act as a great deterrent.

Home Safety
Light It Up! Never underestimate the power of lighting. Anything that can make Joan Rivers look halfway human, is a good things. Likewise, they add safety to your home. Most criminals avoid light like the plague because it aids in identifying possible assailants. Ideally, motion sensitive or timed lighting fixtures in key areas in and outside of your home increases the "element of surprise" and can work to disorient an attacker or thief.

Zig, Then Zag! Remember that in most cases, your habits and schedule is being watched by the criminal element to optimize their chances of getting away with your goods (or you!). If your routine involves, leaving home, driving the same route to work and the same route in reverse on the way home, you could be setting yourself up for invasion, as "good" thieves, have timed your moves down to the minute and know when to strike. It's important to vary your routine to keep them off the scent and it can make the day more interesting!

Lock It Down! Those fancy little knobs embedded in your doors and windows are actually designed to keep people out. They don't work when not in use and not to overstate the situation (or tempt you to try something foolish), but a random test of doorknobs in your neighborhood (especially during the day) would reveal that most people don't think to lock the door. For individuals who have frequent work done by professionals within their home, or apartment dwellers who are visited by maintenance men should always check their door and window locks following a visit.

Car Safety
Maintain, Maintain, Maintain! Imagine being on a dark road in the middle of the night, singing along to your favorite song or (heaven forbid!) talking on your cell...perhaps relishing the idea of a leisurely bath when you've reached your destination. Suddenly, your car begins to make sounds that you're sure you'll be unable to repeat to your mechanic and then it stalls. It's then, (of course) that you remember the plans you'd made to add water, oil ...or GAS to your car! We live a busy life, I get it, but auto maintenance can prevent unexpected stops along your route and prolong the life of your car (and possibly yourself). Giving the benefit of the doubt and chalking the moment up to temporary forgetfulness, do you at least have a plan?

Pay Attention! My confession for today is I tend to be hypervigilant, which means I scope my immediate surrounds for any possible moments of danger or threat. With that said, I never park next to vans, semis or large trucks. Blame any of the forensic "cop" shows that inhabit the airwaves, but something about a van with tinted windows, missing license plates and Playboy mudflaps screams "DANGER!!!" Jokes aside, take note of the vehicles near you, especially in parking garages. You've seen it a million times, a lady is rooting around in her purse, juggling shopping bags and making sure "Little Billy" isn't running off to play in traffic...never once taking note of the van parked in the darkest part of the garages with the bumpersticker that reads: "I Heart My Crawlspace". Have your keys in hand and park in a well lit area. And once you're in the car, don't take that moment to balance your checkbook, reapply lipstick or adjust your hairweave. Close the door, lock it, start the car and leave!
Hold Your Tongue! Stay off the phone. I know, you've headed out of the house without full directions to your destination (which is tantamount to soliciting trouble from potential assailants) so you have to call somebody to find out where you're going, discuss your choice of the red shoes with the pink blouse, brag about the money you saved on a housewarming gift and hear your girlfriend complain about her boyfriend...for the 12 millionth time. Not only does this fall under the auspices of "You~Are~Not~Paying~Attentiondom", but you're also stressing that phone battery. And who you gonna call with a dead battery? Nobody! So should everything that can go wrong...DOES, you're left with no means of summoning help, and at the mercy of any Gacy, Dahmer or Bundy who comes along.

Updating your status need not
include your current
trip to the moon.
Online Safety
Somebody's Watchin' Me. I love taking pictures of myself. Something about the combination of my eyes, my smile (when I decide to bare it) and my shoulders go a long way in passing the time and tipping the balance from confidence to conceit. I love me some me. With that said, learn to be careful of how, where and why you post pictures on social networks. Think about this: If your pic is in front of your car, there's a chance that your license plate number is in plain view. If it's in front of your home, your address is on display. If it's a mobile download from your cell and you're in front of the Great Wall Of China...YOU'RE NOT AT HOME!!! (All thieves, feel free to enter at the rear and go through each drawer and book carefully...they won't be home anytime soon!). When possible, don't post your picture when you know you won't be returning soon. When taking pictures with your spring crop of geraniums or your shiny new candy paint (Southern Rap Joke), make sure to limit anything that can accurately identify your home or car. Another "secret" I'll share (which is somewhat Facebook specific) is to "hide/remove" the event invites you accept. Don't ask me why, or how I know that this is the new stalking...just trust me. And thank me later...Drake.

Boundaries, Privacy & Blocks. One of my favorite things about social networking is the social aspect of the medium. I enjoy talking to friends, family, and alumni without actually hearing their voices. It helps me to coordinate the active "party life" that I've cultivated (and largely ignored) and helps me to stay abreast of certain news events. It also allows me the chance to tell people to go straight to ... to choose my own level of engagement.  Excessive attempts at private interactions that are not business related receive a warning and quick removal. Projects I'm interested in pursuing, can graduate to private emails. Anything else, can be chalked up to random interactions and general networking tomfoolery. I encourage you, get familiar with your privacy settings. Farmville gangstas can be quite intimidating.

Hopefully, You've noticed a common theme to these safety tips (or, my writing skills are suffering from sleep deprivation), which is paying attention. Do yourself a favor and identify the times when you've divided your concentration in favor of something less important than your life and safety...and then promptly cut it out! We want you around...

1 comment:

  1. With all of the texting, tweeting, etc. this is definitely something that young women (especially) need to be more aware of. Thanks


Questions, comments, concerns, contributions?