It’s not easy being a Pinay in the city. Not only do we have to deal with horrible traffic, rising prices and the rainy season, but there’s also the random criminal elements waiting to catch us off-guard. Rest assured though, as these 8 tips will help keep you safe on the way home.
Situational awareness is the ability to pay attention to details in your surroundings and to process them in response to your safety. You can increase your situational awareness in a number of ways. The most practical thing to do is to be aware of changes in your surroundings and routine. Is there a streetlight in your area that recently went dead? Make sure you walk only in the well-lit areas. Has that car been parked in that corner for a few days now? Inform the nearest guard to check it out. Paying attention to details can mean the difference between getting home safe and not getting home at all.
Criminals have mastered specific MOs that target people during critical moments, such as near ATMs. Ask yourself when you think you are most vulnerable to being attacked. Try to identify at least three “weak points” in your daily routine and do something about it. For example, if you get home extra late on Fridays, have a trusted person escort you home, or sleep over at a friend’s place instead of commuting home alone late at night.
I mean it. Please, STOP texting while walking. Using your phone while walking not only causes you to lose sight of what’s around you (situational awareness!), it also calls attention to pickpockets, holdapers and other dangerous elements.
There are two simple things that every Pinay should have in her bag: a small flashlight and a whistle. The flashlight comes in handy if you need to walk down a dark street, stairway or hall. It’s especially handy during sudden brownouts. Loud noises can help deter potential attackers, so don’t be afraid to blow your whistle as loud as you can. It’s best to keep it within easy reach, like on your keychain or bag.
Whenever you’re at a safety “weak point” as mentioned above, you can make yourself safer by letting people know where you are and what you are doing. The best example for this is when you need to ride a taxi by yourself. Nowadays it isn’t enough for a friend to take note of the license plate of the taxi you ride in, so do the following:
– Make a phone call to a family member or friend and give them the name of the driver, the license plate of the taxi and your destination. Why not just a text message? Because the driver needs to hear you taking note of these details and giving them to another person.
– Politely ask if you can take a selfie with the taxi driver and upload it to social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) at the start of your ride.
If the taxi driver acts rude, suspicious and/or refuses to have his photo taken, get out of the taxi immediately. Safety is more important than convenience.
Have you ever stopped in front of your gate or door to rummage through your bag for the keys? It’s time to break that habit. This is one of the most vulnerable points in your trip home because your guard is down (you’re practically home already, right?), you’re distracted, and your bag is open. Someone could easily grab your bag, or worse, break into your home. Instead, make sure your keys are already in your hand by the time you get to the gate or door so you can get in quickly.
When a thief demands that you hand over your bag, wallet, laptop or cellphone, hand these over quickly. When possible, throw your things away from you and run away. More often than not, muggers only want your belongings and will run away once they have them. These things can be replaced. Material objects are not as important as your life.
What if the worst happens and you’re attacked? What if your attacker forces you to get into a van or a deserted alleyway? Don’t give in. Channel your inner (or outer) aggression. Make noise. Yell your lungs out. Hit the most vulnerable parts of the body: eyes, ears, nose, throat, groin and shin. Don’t forget that your elbow is the toughest part of your body, so don’t be afraid to use it. There are a number of self-defense classes available now, such as Krav Maga, and it’s a great idea to take them, especially if you go frequently go home alone and/or late at night.
Do you have any tips for staying safe? Share them with us in the comments below!