"Take a few minutes before you go out to think through and plan your journey, particularly if it's not a regular route."
Jacqui Hames top 10 safety tips
Jacqui Hames served for 25 years with the Metropolitan Police, and is one of Britain's best-known real-life detectives. She co-presented BBC's Crimewatch for 16 years, and regularly appears on Sky News, Five News, Radio 5 Live, and the former GMTV, to comment on news stories.
1. PLAN AHEAD
Take a few minutes before you go out to think through and plan your journey, particularly if it's not a regular route. It may sound obvious but try and avoid poorly lit or very quiet areas if possible - even if it is the quickest route. Check public transport journey times and look for alternative options should your plans change or a bus/train is canceled - have a contingency.
2. CARRY A MOBILE PHONE
This can be a lifeline when stranded but when you need it most you can guarantee you'll have forgotten to top up your credit or the battery will be flat! If nothing else, make sure you have change for a call box. Some phones have an SOS message facility - check yours.
3. LET SOMEONE KNOW
Keep in touch with a member of your family or a friend, particularly of you're feeling nervous or a little vulnerable on a new route. Phone or text just before you start your journey and let them know what time you should be arriving.
4. CARRY PERSONAL SECURITY ALARM
This could give you the opportunity to stop any attacker in his tracks. Attaching the ila Dusk to the outside of your bag also provides you with the additional feature of using a woman's scream.
So many of us are literally 'struck dumb' with fear when confronted by an attacker - the ila Dusk gives you back a voice and valuable seconds to escape. Sad to say these days there aren't many knights in shining armor about to come to your rescue unless you're really lucky, but using the few seconds to put as much distance between you, could stop you from becoming a victim.
5. WALK WITH CONFIDENCE
Following all these tips will give you confidence and there's no doubt that striding out, head up, oozing confidence is one of the best ways of putting off a potential attacker. He won't want to raise his risk of being caught, so if he thinks you're going to cause him trouble he's likely to be put off. When you arrive at your front door have your key ready to go straight in. Try to wear flat shoes (or have spares with you) and walk with traffic coming towards you so a car can't creep up and surprise you from behind.
6. DON'T FLASH YOUR CASH OR VALUABLES
If you stop at a cash machine or shop on the way, try to conduct transactions as discretely as possible. Carrying your bag with the clasp facing inwards is a good idea, but keep your keys and phone separately in your pocket if possible.
7. TAKE OFF THOSE HEADPHONES
It's sooo tempting to lose yourself in your favourite music when walking home or to work, but being aware of you surroundings and the other people around you will sharpen your senses and provide an early warning system of any potential trouble.
8. ALWAYS USE LICENSED CABS
When your feet are sore, you're tired, fed up and desperate to get home it's oh so tempting to get into a car when the driver says 'Want a cab, love?' Please don't - licensed cab drivers are only allowed to ply for hire in a regulated cab rank. Would you willingly get into a stranger's car under normal circumstances?
Well that's exactly what this is.
Book a cab through a known cab company and make sure the driver tells you the name it was booked in - before you get in. Programm a couple of reputable cab numbers into your phone before you go out.
9. IF YOU THINK YOU'RE BEING FOLLOWED
I know - our worst nightmare. But it needn't be if you keep your wits about you and act fast. First try crossing a road or turning back on yourself. If they continue to follow, assume your suspicions are right and get help. Try pretty much anywhere there are people - pub, bar, cafe, shop, service station etc or
knock on the nearest door where the lights are on. If the worst happens and you think an attack is imminent set off your ila Dusk alarm and run as fast as your can towards an area where you know there will be people. Leave your shoes behind and even your handbag if that's what he's after - you are far
more valuable than property.
10. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
We’ll all develop instincts or intuition for danger as we gain more experience of life. But it's easy, particularly under influence of alcohol or peer pressure to ignore what they're telling you. Trust them and you'll invariably stay one step ahead of the criminal.
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