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Safety On The Streets

On-The-Street

 

As with every neighborhood in San Francisco, and every city in the United States or around the world for that matter, crime is a fact of life.  A certain typical level of crime occurs each day in each neighborhood based on the characteristics of the area and the opportunities made available to criminals and petty thieves.

 

General Safety

 

  1. BE ALERT - Keep your head up, and your eyes open at all times. Criminals look for easy targets, and will prey on weakness. Stay aware of who is around you, who is approaching or following you on the street, and don't get lost in your cell-phone conversation or in your i-pod.
  2. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS - If something doesn't quite feel, look, or seem right - it probably isn't. Trust your primitive survival brain instinct even if it makes you look foolish or causes you to walk a mile out of your way. It's better to be proven wrong while still in one piece, than to be proven wrong and end up in hospital.
  3. DON'T OVERLOAD - If your concentration is on your backpack, laptop carrier, jacket, and a couple of parcels it's not on your surroundings. Getting too overloaded makes it harder for you to focus or run away if needed - and all that "stuff" may prove appealing to an opportunistic criminal.
  4. STAY IN THE LIGHT - At night, and even during the day, stick to well lit, well traveled streets and routes. Avoid dark, less traveled, out of the way routes as they will attract the type of people you just don't want to meet on your journey, whether walking, cycling, or driving.
  5. PARTNER PROTECTION - If you must travel at late at night, travel with a friend, or better still, get a taxi to and from your destination. Single people often present a more attractive target for opportunistic crime.
  6. PHONE FRIENDS - If your inner voice isn't sure and you're feeling a little uncomfortable, call a friend and talk with them until you get to an area where you feel safe. Tell them exactly where you are and what is bothering you.....or ask them to come pick you up. Cell phones can be life savers when used properly. Pretend to be telling your friend that you're "Just around the block on xxxxx street...I'll be there soon."  It may deter an opportunistic attacker if they know you may have friends close by - and in the worst circumstances, your friend on the other end can call the police for you.
  7. BE COURTEOUS - Many physical altercations occur because of a perceived slight, insult, or gesture. Try to be courteous, compassionate, and apologetic yet firm in your resolve to move on to a safer area if confronted by someone who is apparently annoyed at you.  It's always better to walk away apologizing, than to end up unable to walk.
  8. ATTRACT ATTENTION - If you cannot avoid a problem situation, or you suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself in one, attract other people’s attention to your plight as loudly and forcefully as possible. Be sure to state you don't know your assailant if others are around you as this will clue them in to the fact that it's not a 'lover’s quarrel' and may encourage them to call the police. Use a whistle or personal safety siren if you have one. Shout "FIRE, FIRE" as people are more apt to be inquisitive about something that shouldn't turn around and attack them.  Bump as many cars as you can to get their alarms going. Although most people ignore car alarms....if ten alarms in one street are going off, it's likely someone will take an interest.
  9. FLIGHT BEFORE FIGHT- If things seem likely to become physical - try your best to run away as fast and as far as you can to safety. If all else has failed and you feel physically threatened or are actually physically assaulted you must decide if, when, and how to defend yourself. Consider items you may have with you that you can use to help in your defense, and do what is necessary to walk away from the incident. Remember you are legally responsible and culpable for your defensive actions - but it's better to be tried by twelve that carried by six!
  10. NEVER -  allow yourself to be dragged into a vehicle by a stranger nor allow yourself to be taken to a remote or isolated area by a stranger.  No matter what - FIGHT, RUN, KICK, SCREAM, do whatever you must. The chances of surviving such a stranger kidnapping are not in your favor, while the chances of surviving a defensive action are more optimistic.

 

Walking Safety

  • DAYLIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND - Try to complete tasks during daylight hours if possible, or go with a friend or group during darkness hours.
  • WELL TRAVELLED PATHS - Try to stay on well used and traveled public streets or thoroughfares and always try to face TOWARD on-coming traffic
  • WALK INTO THE LIGHT - At night try to stay on well lit and well traveled streets and if possible choose the side of the street with fewer parked cars or obstructions, more open stores, or more houses with lights on
  • AVOID ROUGH SPOTS - Choose a route which does not take you through a known "rough" part of town even if it means walking a mile or two out of your way
  • LIMIT YOUR LOSSES - Don’t carry more money, credit cards or valuables than absolutely necessary for what you plan to do while out. Don't overload yourself with packages.
  • REMAIN ALERT AND ATTENTIVE - Be aware of your surroundings and who is around you at all times!!  Don’t get distracted by personal music devices, phone calls, text messaging, reading the latest best seller as you walk.
  • TELL PEOPLE WHERE TO GO - If a driver stops to ask for directions, stay at least two feet away from the vehicle, and DON'T lean into the window or on the door of the vehicle. Offer assistance but remain vigilant.
  • ANTICIPATE - Look ahead - just as you do when driving, anticipate your route ahead, look for potential problems and try to avoid them EARLY.
  • RUN AWAY WHEN NECESSARY - Don't be afraid to run to a well lit area if you feel unsafe in a less well lit or well traveled area.
  • DON’T FLASH CASH OR EXPENSIVE ELECTRONICS IN PUBLIC - Avoid using your cell phone in public unless absolutely necessary. If so, try to stop into a well lit store or location to do so, and keep you back to a wall while watching your surroundings as you use the phone. 
  • DON’T MAKE YOURSELF MORE OF A TARGET - Avoid vulnerable (target opportunities) situations such as drawing money from ATM's at night, even if they have enclosed sanctuaries. Get your cash during the day if possible.
  • GET THOSE CREDIT CARD POINTS - Use credit cards as much as possible so that you carry less cash - plus you normally get air miles or rewards.  Don’t carry all of your cards at the same time however, just those you anticipate needing.
  • KEEP IT CLOSE, BUT NOT TIED TO YOU - Carry your purse/handbag/laptop bag close to your body and if possible or practical, in front of you. It's harder to snatch and you can see people approach from the front. Wrap any carrying strap over the same shoulder you are carrying it on to prevent yourself being dragged if someone tries to snatch it.
  • CARRY IT RIGHT, FAKE IT WELL - Carry your wallet in your front or inside jacket pocket, and if you have a zipping or Velcro pocket on the front, side, or inside, use that. Thieves have been known to use razor blades to slice back pockets open without the victim knowing it until later. A good tip is to have a second “fake” purse or wallet with say $20 in it (this is a great emergency back-up if needed) as well as some old credit cards and ID’s.  If someone demands you wallet, the “fake” will often be accepted as there is cash inside and most criminals don’t take the time to check dates on credit cards or ID’s as they rob you.
  • BE PRUDENTLY SUSPICIOUS - Should anyone bump into you, make a quick check for your watch, rings, and wallet or purse.

 

Dating Safety

 

1.    It’s cool to meet people on-line, or in bars, clubs, or cafes, but how much do you really know about them and how much can you really trust them?  Trust takes time.

 

2.    While you may REALLY WANT TO go home with them right away, it would be safer to simply exchange telephone numbers or e-mail addresses and arrange to meet another time. If they’re seriously interested, they’ll be willing to wait.

 

3.    First meetings with someone should always be in public places that are easy to leave from or seek assistance in i.e. cafes, restaurants, museums, etc. 

 

4.    USE THE BUDDY DATING SYSTEM – when you do decide to go home with someone, tell a buddy who you are going home with (introduce them to the person and give them the address and telephone number you’ll be at for increased safety) and arrange to call them in a couple of hours, and the following day to confirm you are ok.

 

5.    If you get intoxicated with drink, drugs, or anything else, DON’T go home with someone you just met, and don’t let your friends who are intoxicated do it either. Try not to become intoxicated with someone new.

 

6.    If you can’t reach a buddy or don’t have time, minimally call your own voice-mail and leave the information there. If the worst happens, the police can retrieve that information.  If you leave from home to meet someone, leave the details of who you are meeting, where you are meeting, how you met them, when you expect to return somewhere obvious.

 

7.    Consider double-dating the first few times you go out with someone new. It can relieve the pressure, give you some easy time to get to know and trust them more, and it can be fun.

 

8.    Don’t agree to go to remote or desolate areas with someone you just met or know very little, no matter how romantic that may seem, or how enticing the offer.

 

9.    Assert yourself when necessary. Your needs, desires, and interests should be respected and your right to say no or refuse affection from anyone is inviolable.

 

10. Trust your instincts and act upon them. If you feel uncomfortable with any situation, try to figure out a way to remove yourself from the situation or to attract help.

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