My wife will tell you that I generally downplay people’s fears about home invasions, car-jacking and the like. Fear is no way to live your life. That said, it would be foolish to think these things could never happen to you, and not to take reasonable steps to minimize the likelihood.
Protecting your family’s health and safety are part and parcel to being a mom or dad. Not too long ago I posted a blog about the 10 Things Police Wish You Knew about Answering the Doorbell. Here are some additional tips from the police on staying safe when out in your car:
When Driving Alone
- Keep a cell phone handy in case your vehicle breaks down. Keep it charged. Know who to call.
- Keep vehicle doors locked at all times. Once you get in the car, lock the doors immediately.
- Lower windows only slightly, so no one can reach inside.
- Maintain a relatively full tank of gas. No need to top it off, but don’t let it get too low.
- Choose a well-lighted, well-traveled route even if it’s a little out of the way.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers. Do I really need to mention this?
- Don’t stop to help strangers – get to a phone and call help for them. You can still help people without putting yourself at risk.
- If someone follows you, don’t go home. Drive to an open business and call the police – if possible, record the license plate number of the other vehicle.
If Your Vehicle Breaks Down
- If you are safely off the roadway, raise the hood. Depending on the situation, it may be a good idea to get back into the vehicle and lock the doors. If you are standing outside your vehicle, you may be in danger from passing vehicles not seeing you.
- If someone stops to help, be cautious! Ask them to call for help, if you don’t have a phone or it’s not working.
- It would be very helpful to keep an emergency number of someone you can call if your vehicle breaks down. (Wrecker service, mechanic, roadside assistance, etc.)
Parking Your Vehicle
- Park in a well-lighted area.
- If parking during the day and returning at night, check for street and building lights.
- Always lock the vehicle doors.
- When parking in a pay lot, leave only the ignition key in the car. Do not give anyone a chance to duplicate your house keys.
- Put valuables in the trunk.
- Be cautious when parking next to a van.
Returning To a Parked Vehicle
- Have your key in your hand, ready to unlock your vehicle.
- Look around the area to see if someone is loitering around your car. If in doubt, go back to the store (or wherever) and ask someone to walk you out. Trust your instincts.
- Check the front and back seat areas of the car to see if someone is hiding.
- If possible, walk with someone to your vehicle, e.g. when the bagger at the grocery store asks if you need help with your bags… say “yes, thank you!”
- Be cautious of any van parked next to your car.
Again, the point is not to live your life in fear, but to simply be alert and aware of your surroundings, and make the simple choices each day that increase the odds that you and your family remain safe.
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