Note: I got this document from a coworker with a list of safety tips and thought it would be a good idea to post them and share.
When you’re a woman driving alone, car crashes are far from the only risk you face. Carjacking, abduction and falling prey to a police impersonator all pose additional hazards for women, who are more likely to be targeted by sexual predators. International Association of Chiefs of Police President Ron Ruecker says most crimes involving women drivers occur when they are heading to or away from their cars, particularly in parking lots, where thieves are tempted to steal both cars and property. While it’s important not to be overly fearful, it’s smart to be on the lookout for trouble and prepared if you’re confronted. Here are 10 ways to stay safe when traveling solo.
1. Be careful where you park. Ruecker and other experts recommend finding a well-lit spot or lot, whether it’s indoors or out. Avoid spots where few other vehicles are parked. Steer clear of vans, especially commercial models that lack glass side panels, where wrongdoers can hide. Lock your car, and memorize or jot down its location. Pay lots with attendants are less likely to play host to criminals. Also consider letting the attendant know where you’re parked as you return to your car: If you don’t come through the pay window shortly, he’ll know something’s wrong.
2. Have your keys handy. Fumbling for keys in a handbag can give a criminal the extra few seconds he needs to pull off a mugging, abduction or carjacking. If your key fob can be programmed to open only the driver-side door, do it. Consider attaching a canister of pepper spray to your keychain. Make sure the car is locked once you are in.
3. Pay attention to vehicles near yours. As you head back to your vehicle, is someone sitting in another vehicle’s passenger side, next to where you’ll be getting in? Is the vehicle pulling out, or just idling? If it’s the latter, back off. This could be trouble.
4. Avoid playing Good Samaritan. This is especially true if you’re waved down by a lone man in a remote location whose car seems to have broken down. Use your cell phone to call his location in to the highway patrol or police. They can help him out. Most 911 operators can also connect you quickly to a non-emergency line.
5. Think twice about pulling over for an unmarked police car. If you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong or think the “officer” looks suspicious, call 911 and ask for the local police authority. They should be able to tell you whether unmarked cars are patrolling your area. If you’re still not sure, turn on your dome light and wave to acknowledge that you see them, says Ruecker. Then drive slowly to a well-lit, populated area — a gas station or convenience store, for example — before pulling to a stop. Don’t leave your car or roll down the window. Make the officer show his official identification card. Don’t settle for a badge or an official-looking hat — they’re easy to find. And make sure he’s in uniform and that the uniform parts match. Police departments use unmarked cars but rarely staff them with plainclothes officers for traffic patrols.
6. Know where you’re going at all times. Have directions handy whenever you’re going somewhere new. Consider keeping a GPS device in your car if it doesn’t have a navigation system. You can find portable navigation systems for less than $200, and some of the least expensive systems are mounted on sports watches. The device will allow you to be tracked and to call in your precise location if you become lost or just aren’t good at reading maps.
7. Keep your vehicle well serviced. A poorly maintained engine can let you down at exactly the wrong time — or place. The same goes for batteries that haven’t been charged recently or tested in cold weather. Tires that are long in the tooth and short in the tread can go flat just when they’re needed most. Keeping up on your maintenance can go a long way toward avoiding a bad situation.
8. Use all of your car’s safety and security features. Read the manual — you may not even know how your car can help protect you. For example, run-flat tires can go up to 150 miles if they spring a leak. General Motors’ OnStar and other telematics systems let you call an operator at the first sign of trouble and can be used to pinpoint your location. They also alert police and medical authorities if you are in a serious crash. Several vehicles, including some sold by Chrysler, let you start the engine from outside the car, saving what may be critical time if you’re in a bad situation. And several Volvo models have the “Personal Car Communicator,” which alerts you through your key fob if the car is left unlocked or has been broken into. When you’re buying a new car, factor both vehicle safety and personal security options into your decision.
9. Have a plan when trouble arises. If confronted by a potential abductor or carjacker while you’re in or around your car, drop your packages and run, while making lots of noise. Experts say most criminals will quit right there. What you want to avoid at all costs is going with them to another location, even if they say you won’t be hurt. Once you no longer control the situation, you have few options. If you’re being followed by another car, head to a police station (call 911 for information on how to get there) or a gas station. If you are driving and discover someone hiding in your backseat, slam on your brakes to throw them off balance, put the car in park and run.
10. Always let someone know where you’re going. Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau and a former FBI agent, says when he planned to drive from Sacramento to Chicago last year, he plotted his likely course on a map, marked off overnight stops and times he planned to check in by telephone and gave it to his wife. He recommends that kind of caution for far shorter trips when women are driving alone. The back-up person can alert police quickly if you fail to return on schedule, saving critical time — and perhaps your life.
Safety Tips for Women
The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!
If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.
The three reasons women are easy targets for random acts of violence are:
1. Lack of Awareness – You MUST know where you are & what’s going on around you.
2. Body Language – Keep your head up, swing your arms, stand straight up.
3. Wrong Place, Wrong Time – DON’T walk alone in an alley, or drive in a bad neighborhood at night.
Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.) DON’T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.
A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage: Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars. This is a good reason to park away from big vans.
Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (Better paranoid than dead.)
ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot.) Do not get on an elevator if there is a weirdo already on there. (Of course bad men don’t always look bad.) Do not stand back in the corners of the elevator. Be near the front, by the doors, ready to get off or on. If you get on the elevator on the 25th floor, and the Boogie Man gets on the 22nd, get off when he gets on. Don’t ride the elevator with him if you are not comfortable.
If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! Police only make 4 of 10 shots when they are in range of 3-9 feet. This is due to stress. The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times. And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!
As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good looking, well-educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.
Pat Malone told us the story of his daughter, who came out of the mall and was walking to her car when she noticed 2 older ladies in front of her. Then she saw a police car come towards her with officers who said hello. She also noticed that all 8 handicap spots in the area were empty. As she neared her car, she saw a man a few rows over calling to her for help. He wanted her to close his passenger side door. He was sitting in the driver’s side, and said he was handicapped. He continued calling, until she turned and headed back to the mall, and then he began cursing at her. In the meantime, she wondered why he didn’t ask the 2 older ladies, or the policeman for help, and why he was not parked in any of the empty handicap spots. As she got back to the mall, two male friends of hers were exiting, and as she told them the story, and turned to point at the car, the man was getting out of the back seat into the front, and the car sped away. DON’T GET CAUGHT IN THIS TRAP.
Tips to saving your life, if you have gotten into a violent situation:
REACT IMMEDIATELY – If he abducts you in a parking lot, and is taking you to an abandoned area, DON’T LET HIM GET YOU TO THAT AREA. If you are driving, react immediately in the situation, and crash your car while still going 5 mph. If he’s driving, find the right time, and stick your fingers in his eyes. He must watch the road, so choose an unsuspecting time, and gouge him. It is your ONLY defense. While he is in shock, GET OUT. This sounds gross, but the alternative is worse if you do not act.
RESIST – Don’t go along with him: Run, if you are able: DON’T EVER GIVE UP! You DO NOT want to get to a crime scene.
Always keep your distance when walking past strangers on the street or in dark areas.
GET A CELL PHONE: If it is not already done so, program 911 into speed dial #1. Voice dialing is also a good idea. If your parents are hesitant because of the cost of regular cell package, there are packages for $19.95 a month that allow you to program only 911 into the dialing out program.
BREAK DOWNS: Make every effort to avoid this by ALWAYS keeping your car in good working order. If your car breaks down:
LOCK YOUR DOORS. You better have a cell phone to call for help. If you don’t have a cell phone: (shame on you) keep a blanket, warm clothes, a pair of boots, and a flashlight in your car always, for emergencies.
If it’s noon on a business day, you may want to put your hazards on and walk to safety. If it’s 2 AM, put on your warm clothes, and walk to a lighted area. You are a perfect target if you are sitting in your car broken down. Predators search the highways for easy targets like you.
If you’re on a desolate road: Walk away from the car (in your warm clothes) and go to some bushes, or some area AWAY from your vehicle. It will be cold, and uncomfortable, but you DO NOT want to stay in your car, and there are no psycho bogeymen waiting in the bushes who knew you were going to break down there and then.
Physical defenses that we can use against the violent predator: The EYES are the most vulnerable part of the body. Poke him there HARD. It may be your only window of opportunity.
The neck is also a vulnerable spot, but you MUST know where to grip, AND HAVE THE STRENGTH to cut off his breath. Punch him in the throat to cut off his air supply.
The last place is the KNEES. Everyone’s knees are very vulnerable, and a swift kick here will take anyone down.
**** A cautionary note about these things. If you do not do these things right the first time, you are in trouble, because it will only anger the individual, and that anger will be TAKEN OUT ON YOU. I’m not saying don’t attempt them, it may be your only hope, but be forceful when you do.
If you are walking alone in the dark (which you shouldn’t be) and you find him following/chasing you: Scream “FIRE!” and not “help”; People don’t want to get involved when people yell “help” but “fire” draws attention because people are nosy. RUN!
Find an obstacle, such as a parked car, and run around it, like Ring Around the Rosie. This may sound silly, but over the years, 5 women have told Pat Malone that this SAVED THEIR LIVES. Your last hope is getting under the car. Once you are under there, there are tons of things to hold onto, and he will not be able to get you out and will not come under for you (most likely). Usually they give up by this point. The catch here is that YOU MUST PRACTICE GETTING UNDER THE CAR. You must have a plan (he will have one); know if you will be going on your back, front, from the side or back of the car. It must be practiced.
Never let yourself or anyone that you know be the “closer” in any type of business (bar, store, restaurant, gas station). Pat knew Danielle, who was a girl that just died from being shot point blank by some kids while she was closing at the local gas station. He talked with her the night before she died, and asked whether it ever scared her to close alone. She said, “Yes, but I’ll be alright, Pat. I’ll be all right.” She wasn’t. Our world is not as safe as we pretend that it is, and living in our fantasy worlds WILL get us in trouble, sooner or later. Pat Malone said again and again that the women who die EVERY MINUTE from violent crimes expected to go to bed tonight, and get up tomorrow. No one expects it, but we must be prepared and aware so that we HAVE A PLAN. BE PREPARED TO ACT! HAVE A PLAN!