Archive for category Home Safety

5 Parking Lot Personal Safety Tips

Personal Safety and Security Awareness In Parking Lots

What Makes Us “Soft” vs. “Harder” Targets

 

In this 2 minute video, we will look at some of the elements criminals factor into their victim selection process, and the importance of remaining alert, even in familiar surroundings such as at home, work, or school.

Notice the difference in our prospective victim’s ability to react to an attack as she walks from her car in an apartment parking lot.  Watch the video for demonstrations of the importance of things most people never even think of.

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3 Tips (and 1 Bonus Tip) to Enhance your Daughter’s Personal Safety on Campus

Although we like to think of our daughter’s years away at college as safe and idealistic, the reality is that her time at school puts her at risk.

RAINN, (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, reports that close to 1 in 6 college-aged women received assistance from a victim services agency.  They also report that a female college student is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted as robbed.  Please also bear in mind that 4 out of 5 students who were sexually assaulted do not report.

Enhancing your daughter’s campus safety, security, and survival is crucial.  The best way to do this is to educate and empower her with strategies (or “hacks”) she can use every day.

Although there is no 100% guaranteed blueprint for keeping our daughters safe, there are many empowering, yet simple, precautions we can teach them.

Of course, the cardinal rule is to always use the Buddy System.  They learned it in kindergarten, and it’s a classic for a reason.  You don’t stop using the Buddy System just because you turn 18 – in fact, it’s more important than ever, because the stakes become higher as our daughters leave the protection of parents and home.

These are 3 simple – but highly effective – strategies to enhance your daughter’s personal safety both on and off campus:

1. Headphones Are Off; Earbuds Are Put Away.

That means even if I can’t see you, I WILL HEAR YOU.  No exceptions when in public. Some argue that wearing headphones is a useful social signal that indicates they don’t want to talk.  A predator just sees an easier target.  We need the full range of all our senses at all times. Hearing is the most effective alert to when we’re being approached from behind.  Police remind us that 90% of surprise attacks are launched from closer than 15 feet behind an unaware person.

2. BYOB. (Beverage)

Bring your own beverage and pay attention to it.  Ideally, this will be in a reusable bottle with an attached lid.  This dramatically cuts down on opportunities for someone to tamper with or switch the drink.  Remember, most often it is someone with whom your daughter is acquainted,  or may even know well, who will attempt to spike her drink. Even ice could contain a predatory drug, such as GHB, which is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.  Have her bring her own bottle everywhere and protect it, all the time, just as she would her wallet.

3. Lock It Up, Lock It Down.

On university campuses, as in life, complacency sets in and people get lax about locking doors and windows.  This can be especially problematic in dormitories.  One person propping open a back door – even innocently, as a favor to a roommate, for example – puts everyone at risk. Unlocked windows are often an overlooked security risk, especially on the ground floor. If your daughter will be sharing off-campus housing, install a lock on her bedroom door.

While the risks of college life are real, don’t let fear drive your daughter’s university experience.  Instead, educate her with these and other tips for personal safety and security, and empower her for life.
Apple

— Jennifer Kaminer, 28 Feb 2017

Related: The Clery Act and why you need to know.

Related:  Personal Safety Webinar for young Women in College

Stalking: Resource from John Carroll University 

Most Victims KNOW their attackers.

Date Rape drugs: GHB and Rohypnol

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Burundanga – Another Predatory Drug

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I recently received a warning about another predatory, or date rape, drug.

It was the account of a woman who was approached at a gas station by a man offering his painting services. She took his business card, got into her car and left the station. She states that the painter and a second man followed her.

She states that she immediately began to feel dizzy, could not catch her breath, and noticed a strong odor in the car. She apparently went a neighbor’s home and honked her horn for help – at which time she says the men following her drove away.

She noticed a substance on the business card.  Later, she went online and found that a drug called “burundanga” can be used to incapacitate victims after being absorbed through the skin.

This warning email was accompanied by a link to an article written by Stephen Pittel, PhD, a forensic expert and consultant’s site.

Doctor Pittel indeed describes Burundanga as “a potent form of scopalamine that has been used for decades in Columbia in native rituals, as a weapon and by criminals who prey on tourists.”

Doctors most commonly use scopolamine to treat nausea and motion sickness and often with a transdermal patch. Scopolamine can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and blurred vision even in lower doses.  In higher doses, it can cause delirium, unconsciousness and memory loss – three reasons it has been used as a predatory drug.  As with many substances, alcohol has a compounding effect!

Some authors state that in recent years, fifty percent of emergency room admission for poisoning in Columbia are due to overdoses of this agent.

Pitell and others note that the State Department has issued warnings to those traveling to South American countries to be aware of this potential threat, given the number of tourists who have been robbed after unknowingly ingesting burundanga.

Although this substance is absorbed through the skin, most sources seem to question if one can absorb a large enough dose transdermally from touching a card or travel brochure. The bigger threat is a large dose being put into a drink.

Whether or not the account of the tainted business card is accurate, and whether or not one can absorb enough of a transdermal agent to become incapacitated, is not the real issue.

  • This should remind us that we need to be cognizant of those around us any time we are out in public, and especially when at parties or functions. Any number of substances can be slipped into any beverage, or food for that matter, anywhere and at any time.

My recent blog entry recounts the tragic story of a couple who were robbed after being drugged by someone they befriended at a coffee shop while traveling in Europe.

Substances commonly used as predatory drugs  in the United States include Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine. Even if you open your own sealed bottle of water or can of soda when out in public, be aware that these compounds can be mixed into the ice cubes that a “considerate” person may offer you!

Always watch your drink being prepared, even if it is a latte on a sunny day. Be wary of someone who prepares your drink below bar top level and out of sight. Also be wary of anyone who wants to keep pouring you alcoholic beverages at a party!  Remember, the most commonly used substance for predatory purposes, especially date or acquaintance rape, is alcohol!

Oftentimes a “cocktail” of different substances may be used to incapacitate the victim.

Opioid analgesics such as Oxycontin and hydrocodone, are anti-anxiety medications and muscle relaxants.  Although they are effective pain medications when used appropriately, they are quite dangerous when abused or combined.  Alcohol combined with these medications can result in death, as the victim gradually loses their urge to breathe, also knows as respiratory depression.

Obviously avoiding predatory drugs is paramount. If you are in a public setting or attending a function and do start to suddenly feel sleepy, disoriented and “out of it,” especially accompanied by loss of motor control, it is best to assume you have ingested a harmful agent and seek medical attention immediately.

Waiting to “see if I feel better” only robs you of precious time, time doctors will need to help you!

The most important thing to remember is to keep distance between yourself and strangers. You should always be wary of a stranger closing distance on you regardless of the stated reason, and especially when in an isolated environment! If you are followed, drive to a busy, well-lit area – or even a police or fire station – but not home, to a friend’s house, your place of work, or any location where your children will be.

  • Predatory Drugs are also addressed in our Travel Safety Training.
  • Please visit the Resources area of our site for more information on these and other topics
Related: 

What is Situational Awareness ?

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Child Grooming

Child Grooming. Recognizing this behavior for what it is!!

Guest blog entry courtesy of Kim Estes.  Kim  is a child safety expert and the founder of Savvy Parents Safe Kids. Kim believes that every child deserves a safe childhood and that adults have the power to keep children safe.

The past week has been a firestorm surrounding the Penn State Child Sexual Abuse scandal. We have by now figured out what when wrong. We know horrible mistakes were made. We know horrific crimes were committed.

Walking in on a child being raped is obviously Child Sexual Abuse in progress. However, it didn’t start “just like that”.  Sandusky had a process that he followed to gain access to that child. So how exactly do predators get to the point where they have complete access to a child and complete immunity within a community?

The answer is simple. It is called grooming.

We hear about grooming of children, but before that can happen, a predator must groom the adults. Grooming adults clears the way to victimizing children.  If we want to stop children from becoming victims, we need to be able to identify when adults are being tricked and groomed and what the predators grooming steps are.

 

Steps and Signs of Child Grooming:

Identifies opportunities, organizations and communities with children

Builds trust through friendships and/or leadership (with the adults and children)

Begins to identify potential victims

Gains access to children

Begins testing boundaries (with children and adults)

Provides presents, praise and privileges (to both the adults and the children)

Creates secrecy

Abuse begins

Uses threats (towards children and sometimes adults) to keep their crimes secret

Adults are responsible for keeping the children in our lives safe. If you observe what you believe is child grooming in progress it is your duty to intervene. Talk to a supervisor, talk to your partner, talk to the police, talk to a specialist in Child Sexual Abuse prevention. Limit that person’s access to children immediately. Predators like to fly under the radar. If you start making noise and asking questions you will make it harder for them to be stealth in committing their crimes against children.

Visit Kim’s website at www.savvyparentssafekids.com

 

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Online Safety and Social Media Security Awareness

Our Predictability as a Vulnerability

Social media safety and security are a growing concern. As more people engage in social media the amount of information being shared in relatively open forums continues to grow.

Best practice is to post information and photos after an event rather than letting people know where you will be or where you are right now. It is also a good idea to be cautious about “checking in” when using locations based services. Geo location is a growing concern amongst social media safety experts.

If you exercise the discipline of only posting after an event, keep this tip in mind; if you frequent the restaurant or establishment mentioned in your post, you are still leaving a criminal with enough information to start building a predictive profile on you.

What do I mean by this? Simply put, our predictability is one of our primary vulnerabilities. It provides criminals a good map of when and where we will be.  This information helps them streamline their planning and victim selection process whether it may be a burglary or a violent crime on a person.

Humans are creatures of habit. We tend to walk and drive the same routes and stick to schedules that become quite obvious to those who might be observing. This is why those charged with protecting dignitaries and high profile people continuously change the routes, vehicles and departure times while transporting their clients.

Even if you are careful, but mention several times over the course of a few weeks that you are home from a specific location; a restaurant you frequent, your gym, your child’s school or a more regular after work activity, you have supplied enough information for someone to predict when you will be back at one of those locations.  This information greatly enhances the targeting opportunity.

So keep in mind, even if posting after an event, keep the specifics and location vague. Predictably is our Achilles Heel.  Again keep the specifics and location very vague!!

You might think that only friends and family in your social media network are privy to anything you share. You also might think that your friends have vetted the friends they share their platforms with.  Think again!

A Reuters article on a British company, Legal & General published some statistics from a study they did several years ago.

Their study revealed that only 13% of Facebook users vetted a friend request and a staggering 92% accepted new follows on Twitter without doing any checks!!

They also found that 38% of people on Twitter and Facebook would post about an upcoming vacation.

 

Social Media Safety Training Available onsite or in webinar format / One hour duration

Related:

Back to School Safety Tips — Social Media, Device Security, Malware by Christopher Burgess (For the Huffington Post )

Password- Creation and Usage – Online Safety & Security by Christopher Burgess

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