If you watch the nightly news, you can’t help but be aware of crime, not just in our city, but all across the nation as well. Have so many news reports about crime made you a bit more fearful than you used to be? If so, according to a University of Michigan study, that’s actually a good thing. It turns out that a healthy fear of crime may actually help protect you from becoming a victim. When you are well-informed about where and when crime is likely to occur, you are better able to make smart choices that will help keep you safe. So don’t let your fear of crime stop you from enjoying life—instead, put it to work for you!
Teach these ten practical tips for staying safe to your children and the older adults in your life:
Staying Safe at Home
- Always look through a window or a door peephole before opening the door. If the person you see is a stranger, remember that would-be thieves often knock or ring the bell to see if anyone is home before they decide to break in. That’s one reason experts say you should not ignore the person. Instead, follow these safety tips:
- Even if you are home alone, call out, “Can somebody please get the door?” or “I’ll get it!”
- Without opening the door, ask the person to identify him/herself. If they say they are there to do maintenance or take a survey, ask them for a telephone number you can call to verify their identity.
- Do not answer personal questions such as, “What time does your mom get home from work?”
- If the person says they have run out of gas, or have a medical emergency, offer to call the police for them, but don’t risk your safety by opening the door.
- Keep all doors and windows locked at all times. Try the locks to make sure they are strong and not easily broken. If they need to be replaced with sturdier locks, be sure to do that.
- Don’t make it easy for a burglar to see what’s inside your home at night when the lights are on. Close your blinds or curtains in the evening.
Be Street Smart!
- Keep your car doors locked at all times and don’t lower your car window or open your car door to speak to a stranger.
- Walk outside with a friend, and avoid dark streets or parking lots. Always walk and park in well-lit areas.
- Ladies, carry your purse with the strap over your shoulder and across your body. Men, put your wallet, cash, and credit cards in an inside pocket.
- Never resist a robber. If you are confronted, hand over anything the robber demands.
- Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails disguised to look like they come from reputable companies. The goal of every “phishing expedition” is to trick you into revealing personal information, such as your passwords or credit card numbers. Delete any email that:
- Threatens to shut down your account
- Requests private information such as a password or your Social Security number
- Uses words such as “Urgent!”
- Is poorly written and/or does not use proper English grammar. Legitimate companies send properly edited, well-composed email messages.
- Uses a forged email address. For example, if you get an email that appears to be from Bank of America, hover your mouse over the email address of the sender. If you see something like “firstname.lastname@example.org,” the email is almost certainly fake.
- Spam is electronic junk mail. Never click an “Unsubscribe” link in a spam email. Doing so just lets the spammer know your email address is legitimate, which could result in even more spam.
- Change your passwords often and don’t use easy-to-guess passwords like “mypassword.” Experts recommend using different passwords for each of your accounts. This is for your protection. If you use the same password for both your bank account and your email account, for example, you make your information more vulnerable. The strongest passwords contain six or more characters and include a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols such as #, $, and @.