[Tl;Dr: Quick tips on staying safe when vacationing so you don’t get mugged.]
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Lot of people these days are thinking about staying safe from an invisible, faceless threat of catching some sickness post-2020. But not everyone realizes that there other everyday hazards and dangers out there. As someone who lived in a relatively safe environment and had a good normal upbringing and relatively safe school district, you often grow to trust those around you and to think everyone has your best interests at heart. Sadly that is not always the case.
Our current generation and previous generations often came together to overcome adversity.
While Boomers had a pretty good sense of work ethic and tried to instill their sense of morality into their kids, time and change inevitably moved the bar on what people though acceptable. While a lot has stayed the same, the rising and changing social tides of justice has brought for new movements, calls for equality and also brought additional discourse and also sowed a few seeds of disagreement and discord and widened the differing berth of political views.
One of the first time of realizing that the world was not what it seemed and that people would do what they could to further themselves was just finding a few people telling white lies or trying to push the envelope to see what they could get away with and opening up the room to apply more pressure. Perhaps someone makes a simple request to prime you for a bigger request by getting you to say yes to a smaller gesture and then while you’re in the moment they ask you for something else when you’ve already done the first step. For example let’s say someone asks if you could donate something like $5 for something and then when you’ve opened your wallet they ask if they could have one more dollar just for something else small.
Or maybe you find yourself closing for the day and someone waltzes into your office at the last minute and asks to get some service because they are in an “emergency situation” and then need just a little bit more help holding you past your normal hours.
Maybe you have a relative that asks you for an errand and you’ve done it before but too busy now and so they ask if you could just do it just one more or do it because that’s what family does… etc.
In a lot of these cases, there’s not necessarily a bad thing to want to help people. Humans are made for helping and there’s a natural tendency for people to want to help and trust each other since we are social animals because we needed each other in ancient times. And to be ostracized or banished from one’s group often was humiliating or could even mean death because we had no support system.
Nowadays the world is so large and there are so many options that often we don’t mind staying at home and being in front of the TV or ordering Doordash or something. We don’t need to go to movies and socialize. It’s almost as if the Coronavirus era has accelerated people being antisocial. And of course that will have unknown repercussions on our generation and kids a few years from now. Many people many never go back to not wearing masks and being social and going to movies and being in public if we get this pandemic under control.
But that’s not really what this article is about even though that’s an interesting trend to explore.
What we want to mention is that to aware of trends, but also for this particular topic today to be aware of your surrounding and your person and also to have a slightly healthy skepticism but now paranoid schizoprenic conspiracy ladened outlook on life.
We looked at a few sites about going out and about in the world and this week found some safety tips to help you stay healthy and happy and safe:
- When walking out on the street pair up or have friends with you especially if new somewhere. Having a buddy system can help protect you.
- Don’t go walking anywhere unfamiliar late at night alone or exercising.
- When out in public have your hands free and ears and eyes aware and not busy or occupied. That means unless you’re in a really safe place then don’t have your earphones or headphones on. Don’t have your face or nose in your phone and walking and texting or watching videos and not pay attention to oncoming traffic or miss the site of bicyclists, dogs, strangers. Sometimes a lot of assaults and injuries could be prevented if someone was simply paying attention.
- Don’t chase down or try to catch a bus if it’s already left. It’s dangerous and you can get your body caught underneath or seriously hurt.
- Try to do your banking inside a safe building, not in a public street ATM in the middle of nowhere. When you do it inside the actual bank or inside a store it’s much safer than being caught unawares on a public street.
- Thanks to social distancing we have an excuse to be 6 feet apart. But sometimes you might have a stranger ask you for a question or for directions. Make sure you stay wary and on guard. One time a person asked for help on something but when asked what it was and wouldn’t say what was needed even though it was within hearing distance then I guess the person didn’t really need that help.
- Be mindful of how you telegraph your mental state and vulnerability. If you are slouching or walking slow or taking odd steps or not moving fast enough someone could think that you’re easy pickings for something malicious and so when out and about make sure you’re don’t have your head down and just wandering like you’re lost. Have purpose in your stride and don’t stick out too much in a crowd.
- Wear clothes that make you blend in with the general population. You don’t want to wear touristy shirts or have clothes that make you look like you’re not from around the area. When in Rome do as the Romans do goes the old saying. If the locals wear head coverings, wear head coverings.
- Speaking of looking like a tourist, don’t be snapping pictures every 10 seconds or making a lot of chatter about things and acting like you’re surpised about everything. You want to look like it’s just the every day norm. Some people that have gone to other countries have been accosted or stopped because they looked suspicious. It’s just a normal day.
- Speaking of looking normal sometimes a person might come up asking you for something because you look like you have money or are well to do or wearing designer clothes or earrings or shoes. Someone is less likely to come approach you if you look like an average joe without cash than maybe someone that looks a bit more affluent? Don’t make yourself a target.
- Keep your belongings out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Have a family member or trusted person pick up your mail if out of town or water your plants or turn on the lights and all the normal stuff if on vacation.
- Don’t post phone numbers, vacation photos, personally identifiable info and week plans on your social media. So many millennials do this or post health records and pay stubs and other weird things that telegraph their day to day movement. And they even “check-in” at certain restaurants. This is a way to get someone to rob you or worse. FB and other social media accounts don’t need to know everything about your life. Pick up the phone and stay in touch with your friends the old fashion way. Not with Mark Z looking over your shoulder.
- Don’t wear your find jewelry and necklaces or employee badges etc when out and about on the street. Only when you’re safe at work. If you wear heels, perhaps have another set of clothes you can change out of so you can walk or stroll normally after hours. Keep your fancy purses and watches and electronic gadgets at home and out of sight.
- Don’t talk about F. Club. If you tell people you have an expensive car or Porshe or have a lot of crypto and other stuff like that you might have someone try to “yoink” your items. Don’t tell them you have any or show it to them. Don’t brag about having things because you’re asking for someone to have the green eye and take it.
- Be careful about what you’re telegraphing with posture about what’s in your wallet. Sometimes there are people watchers that can tell where you keep your important items just by the number of times you touch it on your body. Maybe you put you hand on your back pocket every now and then or maybe reach into a particular vest pocket. Someone can probably tell where your wallet is if they watch you near an ATM long enough and so it’s that’s why it’s important to be in a well-lit safe location. Consider just having direct deposit most times.
- Shred your important stuff. Ditch and shred the receipts that often have quite a few digits on them. Cut up old credit cards and statements so they are unreadable. You can also consider burning or wet pulping certain items. Many people don’t realize there are more dumpster divers than we want to admit. Cut up certain packages especially if you have a box with big fancy electronics. Someone seeing a box of a new TV now knows you bought an expensive wide screen TV and what house this side of the street made the purchase.
- Keep doors, windows, car doors and garages closed. It only takes a few seconds for you to lose items.
- Use cable locks to secure your laptops and computers and don’t let anyone else see them or give access to them especially when staying in a hotel or on vacation. Mum’s the word and the less they know the better.
- Use chains on your doors. There have been a few circumstances in college where that was one of the few things that saved our roommates. And it also gives you privacy in hotels.
- Learn self defense and have some important items like pepper spray or your keys in hand when leaving to get to your car. This is especially important during the holiday season when you might be distracted and have your hands full of packages. Don’t get distracted or let your guard down. Unfortunately sometimes you just have to be skeptical about people.
- Have some good pets to deter people at your house.
- Consider having cameras and security systems around your house or property or extra lights.
- Get the city to fix street lights, pot holes, stop signs in your neighborhood.
- Possibly have a neighborhood watch.
- Don’t go out too early or stay out too late to walk or go to the park. This is especially true if you don’t have reflective gear or lights. Often people might not be able to see you or realize you’re in the street jogging especially in the wee hours of dawn and dusk especially in the winter.
- If you forget something late at work / school and need to go back and you’re going to be all alone consider waiting till the next day so you don’t make yourself vulnerable.
- Know your limits for drinking and partying. Don’t put yourself in a position that could be dangerous or compromising. Again, have a good buddy system.
- Have your phone with you. Know who to call and how to use it and have plenty of battery life. Don’t let the battery run all the way down. Know how to mute or set on vibrate or send out an emergency message or call for help. Having a spare battery or charger can be good. Know how to use your GPS functions especially if you get lost.
- If something doesn’t feel right, you probably should be careful.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and loudly if need be.
- Consider having a whistle or emergency siren if need be.
- Keep extra clothes, shoes, mittens, hat, and some spare water or food in your car especially in winter.
- Check your battery levels and fluid levels so you don’t ended stranded in a part of town and not know how to get out.
- Try to not carry too much bulk on your person. Having essential carry-ons can be helpful but some people carry their kid’s social security cards and birth certificates on them in a humongous purse or wallet for no apparent reason.
- Be aware of events around the world. Know when tornado season is and flood season. Know how your computer works. Know what information is found in your wallet. It is not cool to be clueless. No one ever said being ignorant was admirable. You’re responsible for your own health and safety. Being in the know is intelligent and smart.
- Do your research and shopping online surveying before you go in the store so you know what to expect and can quickly get items or not get sidetracked by deals you aren’t aware about. Some times you might have tricky salesmen and you want to know what options you have so you don’t waste money on gimmicks and protection plans you don’t really need. Also some upgrade plans might seem great like it’s only an extra 9 dollars every month for XYZ service, but when you price that out it’s a significant amount that’s nearly an additional 100 a year. So even though it doesn’t seem like much can add up.
- Be aware of what can be seen from the outside of your house: Christmas decorations, you watering your plants, what can be seen on the second floor windows, evening lights, snow foot prints, deep in your garage and what can be heard.
- Be knowledgeable about what you eat late in the evening like medications, cold medicines, alcohol, caffeine and how it affects you.
- Don’t fall asleep in public places like a bus or someplace like an airplane if you can or again have a buddy system or someone you trust to keep vigil for you if needed.
- Be careful of people asking for something like directions or money from you and being too close in proximity to your body as they can quickly grab you or your wallet or phone from you. Keep your items close to your body and backpacks zipped up and purses around your neck instead of on one shoulder. Also don’t just put your briefcase or laptop bag on the floor or under a chair or hanging off your chair. Some people have special clothing with zippers and such. Use that to your advantage.
- Keep your RFID credit card chips / smart cards and other wireless devices in protective cases so they can’t be skimmed or have information stolen from them. Consider having a Faraday bag or pouch.
- Don’t overshare information. Even at work or with prospective romantic partners.
- Don’t click on shady links or get phished by emails. A lot of scammers are out there trying to get your information. Often you can spot them, but sometimes not. If the email seems not right or not official or not proper or unprofessional then don’t click, perhaps call the actual company from their offical channels instead, but not through the numbers or links provided in the suspicious email.
- Don’t be so fast to try to get a date, hookup, or get in an online romance and get spammed or have your phone compromised, simjacked, or have someone use your phone or email as a way to annoy or spam. There are a lot of scammers and fake profiles, webcammers, and cyberhackers and state sponsored campaigns to compromise your device. Don’t fall for the old tricks in the book by having a person learn some of your interests and then specially target those interests tailored to you. That’s spear phishing. And for instance you’re interested in vaccines or maybe the latest holiday electronic gadgets for a laptop. And you suddenly get an email about those very same targets. You take the bait and end up with locked out of your email, simply because you revealed certain interests on your online dating profile, someone reverse Googled you and found your social media profile name is the same as your dating profile name and then send you an email found there to ask you to sign up for a topic you’re interest in.
- Don’t reuse passwords, usernames. Someone can easily find you on the internet these days with a reverse image search and some old dating profile names and phone numbers. They can probably find old Myspace pages, your Pinterest pictures, and even where you live and a picture of your house on Google Maps all before you even set foot on a date with your romantic interest.
- Check your online statments or accounts to review for fraud, bounced checks, overdrawn conditions. For instance you might not realize your card was previously declined till you go to buy some groceries a few days later.
- On that previous note, always carry just enough cash with you for some groceries or emergency supplies, but not too much to get robbed. For instance between $30 to $50 is probably a decent amount to have to buy a few groceries in this day in age. Also have enough money in the bank to pay for maybe at least 1 or 2 months of basic bills if possible just in case something bounces.
- Don’t overspend or put yourself in a position to be in financial straights or a hardship. Don’t put yourself behind and get help if you’re a compulsive gambler.
- Check gas station pumps for skimmers that could skim your card before you run your credit or debit card.
- Consider using a banking card that has certain fraud protections on it.
- Don’t park too close to big vehicles that can obstruct your view or drive behind or beside them.
- Stay active and fit so you’re in shape.
- Get enough rest so that you’re not groggy in the morning on the way to work or back home or have to fall asleep on the ride home.
- Pull over to a rest stop if you need to or turn on the air conditioning or radio to help you get there.
- Don’t drive during incoming inclement weather such as snow storms, flood conditions, and tornados.
- Tell people or let someone know when you are going out and text or call when you get there so they won’t be worried. It’s good manners.
- Know your exits and escape routes like in a movie theater if there’s a fire. Know your shelter points and other ways to protect yourself in a bad situation. Learn smart safety tips. For instance military people know to put their back to a wall to feel safe since no one can sneak up on them.
- Train for certain events or happenings before they happen.
- Have an emergency plan.
- Don’t fumble around with a map in public or you may attract attention as someone who’s not from around here and end up getting targeted for money.
- Don’t keep your valuables obvious and open in your house. Find places that are inconspicuous and not readily accessible.
- Have a good clear line of sight to your child. Don’t be so occupied in conversaton with another parent that you lose track of your kid that might be crawling off. Monitor your kid and safely put them in your car or the correct way in your grocery cart. It only takes a few seconds to get injured.
- Get proper rest before and through the end of vacation travel, account for jet lag and time changes.
- Plan for unexpected flight changes and vacation plans.
- Consider any currency changes and associated costs when traveling to not only save time, but also exchange fee costs. These are some ideas to get you started to prevent you having someone target you or for things to get worse. The world can be a big and scary place, but not everyone is out to get you. A lot of us become paranoid or xenophobic. But most times people look out for one another and have at least some human decency even when they are somewhat inadvertently rude or seemingly selfish. People do things to try to better themselves and sometimes forget their manners or inadvertently disregard other’s feelings or are just clueless. It’s important to be more open and learn more about your fellow human beings and be in their shoes. We don’t all have to be selfish self-centered being. But we don’t have to be savvy and smart about it. Be safe out there.