When things go south, it’s the little things that decide the outcome. If you stay calm and equip yourself with relevant knowledge, even the most gruesome situations can be resolved with little to know damage to your well-being.
Which is why we’ve put together this list of personal safety tips. If you keep them in your mind, they might save your live of lives of your loved ones someday. You know, the winter has come and the night is dark and full of terrors. Get ready!
1. Always let others know where you’re going to be.
Make sure there’s always at least one person who’s going to look for you in case of emergency. This rules applies particularly to people who live alone.
You probably have a routine, like most people. If you decide to deviate from it, make sure someone knows where you’re going to be. This way, if you fail to show up at a given time and place, someone will begin to worry about you and try to reach you, eventually leading to a rescue operation.
It only takes a short phone call. Call your mom, your significant other, your flatmate, it doesn’t matter. If you want to be extra safe, tell them the exact locations and times, or even people you’re going to meet. Or you can use a personal safety app .
2. Never pull out any weapon.
“Never bring a knife to a gun fight.” When it comes to personal safety and self-defense, the opposite is true. In other words, unless you’re exceptionally skilled with a weapon, you don’t want to bring it into a fist fight.
If you pull out a weapon in a fight, you expose yourself to the risk of the attacker disarming you and using the weapon against you. Besides, robbers usually only bring weapons to intimidate and coerce. You don’t want to make these situations potentially more dangerous than they already are.
3. The bystander effect is real. Call out one person from the crowd.
Everybody knows the case of Kitty Genovese, even if not under that name. In 1964, Genovese, 28 years old, was stabbed, sexually assaulted, and murdered in front of 38 witnesses. The attack reportedly lasted for at least half an hour during which time Genovese screamed and pleaded for help.
Yet, not a single one of the witnesses helped her, each of them assuming that others would take responsibility. Psychologist call this the bystander effect.
For this reason, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, point directly at the nearest person and ask them for help like that. This way, they you’ll have a much better chance of receiving the help you need.
4. Always try to imagine all the possible dangerous situations.
Never stop being aware of your surroundings. If you’re walking alone, don’t be on your phone and take out your earphones. Once you give up one of your senses, you dramatically decrease your chances of survival, should something dangerous happen. The most important thing is to see the danger coming before it hits you.
Once you’ve got all your senses ready, train your mind to always imagine all the possible dangerous situations. See that dark alley? You might want to take another way home, you never know what’s hiding there. Who’s the most suspiciously looking person on the tram? Make sure he doesn’t follow you. You get the idea.
5. Take a step forward when physically threatened.
When someone tries to intimidate your physically (e.g. an idiot who’s trying to pick a fight), take a step forward. Most drunk fighters are no heroes and only pick weaker or easily intimidated targets. If you take a step forward, you have a much better chance they’ll stop harassing you.
Sure, it can seem a bit counter-intuitive, since everyone’s first instinct is to protect oneself. For this reason, you should try to imagine the whole scenario beforehand so you know how to react.
6. When walking alone at night, call someone or fake a phone call.
Many sex workers use this trick when returning home after a night shift. They simply call someone to continually describe their surroundings as they commute through a city. The effectiveness of this strategy is two-fold.
First, there’s another person on the other end of the line. In case something happens to you, they’ll know it and will be able to summon help exactly to the place you’ve described.
Second, attackers usually prefer picking low risk targets. Once you have a phone in your hand, it defers attackers from approaching you, as it’s more risky than attacking a true lone walker.
7. When stuck in a riptide, swim parallel to the shore.
Riptide is a fast narrow current running offshore and cutting through breaking waves. If you live near the sea, you probably know this. You also know how dangerous it can be if you get caught in one.
The surest way to escape a rip current is to swim parallel to the shore, left or right, as they’re usually quite narrow and easy to escape.