National Personal Safety Day took place this week and we have put together some top tips to follow to ensure your safety when out and about or at home.
Out and about:
1. Plan ahead
When heading out, it is important you are sure of your plans well before you leave. Can you travel with friends? What time is your last bus or train? Will your route pass anywhere that could be considered dangerous? Try wherever possible to stick to well-lit, busier pathways and walk down the middle of the pavement if the street is empty.
2. Stay alert
If it is unavoidable to pass through somewhere you would acknowledge is a danger spot, think what you would do if you did feel threatened and how you might react to certain situations. Can you head to a public place such as a shop?
Remember that if you're chatting on the phone or listening to music while talking, you're far less likely to be fully aware of your surroundings and any danger that may be approaching.
If you think you are being followed, don't be afraid to take action. Stay as calm as possible and confidently cross the road, turning as you go to see if there is someone behind you. Keep moving if you are still being followed and head towards the nearest well-populated area, telling as many people as possible what is going on. If necessary, phone the police.
Be wary of stationary cars with their engines running and people inside them, and cross the road if necessary to avoid walking past them. Walk so you are facing oncoming traffic where possible, but if a vehicle suddenly pulls up alongside you, turn and run in the opposite direction.
1. Assessing your property
Look at your home as if you were a burglar. Are there any weak points that pose a security risk, such as a window a person could fit through that you often leave open, or an unlocked patio door? What is there to discourage a would-be robber? Consider burglar alarms, safety lights triggered by movement and a video surveillance system.
2. Dealing with unexpected visitors
If you have an intercom system, spy holes, door chains and/or outside lighting, all of these make it easier to safely identify callers at the door. Many will claim to be representing an organisation, so ask for ID and if you are uncertain, contact the company using details you already have - ie from a bill - rather than those provided by the person.
Beware of bogus callers attempting to distract you while an accomplice enters your property. The easiest way to guard against this is to ensure all other entrances are locked when you answer the door.
3. Leaving the property unoccupied
When leaving the property, be sure to close and lock all windows and doors. A timer switch is an effective way to turn lights - and even a television or radio - on and off, which will give the impression someone is home.
If you are going away on holiday or a business trip, try not to make it obvious that this is the case - such as noticeably packing your car on the driveway or announcing plans on social media. Remember to cancel any milk or newspaper deliveries you usually receive, as these will make it obvious that you are not at home if they sit on the doorstep.