The Most Dangerous Season
By Andrew Wooten, president of S.A.F.E.
Summer is almost here! With summer come baseball games, beach time, barbecues and vacations. But summer also brings more dangerous situations than any other time of the year. The FBI reports that violent crime rates are highest in the July and August. New York Police Department states that crime is heaviest in the summer because hot weather and school closures draw more people into the street, leading to greater potential for crime. Home invasions increase during the summer months due to lighter security-namely, open windows and homes left empty during vacations. So how do you protect yourself, your belongings and your office during the most dangerous season of the year?
Step One: Be Aware! In the summer we all tend to relax our attitudes. Days are longer and we stay so busy that we tend to forget simple things. Stay alert and remember the basics: Lock your doors and windows. Don’t forget to keep the door from your garage to your home locked, especially if you keep your garage door open.
Keep your car locked at all times and don’t forget to close your sunroof!
Put things away in your car. Don’t leave anything of value in sight (purse, wallet, laptop, camera, iPod, GPS, etc.). Park in a well lit area. Even if you arrive during daylight, it might be dark when you leave. Keep your car serviced and always have at least a half tank of gas. Prepare your roadside emergency kit and keep it handy in your car.
Safety at Summer Social Events: Summer is the time to attend lots of outdoor events including parties, barbecues and sporting events. There are many opportunities to meet new people and network. But that doesn’t mean letting your guard down! Criminals frequent social events looking for their next victim.
- Don’t give your personal information to a stranger. This includes access to your social networks. They could easily stalk you by reading your Facebook posts or tweets.
- The old saying “there’s safety in numbers” is still true. Take a buddy!
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry or clothing that is too revealing.
- Don’t park where you can get blocked in.
- Keep your purse and wallet in a secure location.
Safety During Vacations: We all look forward to our summer vacations. But whether you are going on a cruise, staying at a resort or just heading to the next state, you must take precautions before you leave and while you’re away from home.
Securing Your Home
Install motion sensor lights around the outside of your home.
Put indoor lights on timers so they come on at different times, making it appear as if someone is home. Have a trusted neighbor or friend collect your mail and newspapers.
Pay someone to cut your lawn and pick-up any litter or trash.
Engage the garage door lock before you leave (use the lock on the wall box or on the main device overhead).Lock up or shred papers with any sensitive information before you leave, including bank statements, credit reports, receipts, credit card statements and tax returns.Be sure your trusted neighbors know you are away so they can keep an eye on your home.
Staying Safe While Away: Never show large amounts of cash or traveler’s checks. If you must carry it, keep it hidden. When using Wi-Fi in a hotel or other public place, be careful with what information you are transmitting-and what information might be accessed on your laptop or mobile device while your Internet connection is open. Remember these are public airwaves. Anyone could be tapping into them.
Use the hotel safe. There is no need to carry more cash, traveler’s checks or jewelry than needed. If it will fit, you can also secure your laptop inside the safe.
Be aware of pick pocketing. It does still happen! Be sure you secure your wallet and purse at all times. Hold onto all your receipts. Match them with your credit card and bank statements when you get home and watch for any charges or withdrawals you did not make. Be aware of your social media posts while away. You may be letting a criminal know there’s no one home to prevent a break-in.
Safety at the Office: You’ve heard most of my office safety tips, but they are worth repeating and repeating again: Keep the blinds closed in your office windows. Criminals won’t know all the treasures inside if they can’t see anything. (Plus, it will help keep those air conditioning bills lower!)Outer office doors and windows should be kept closed and locked. I know we want to open them to let in the fresh summer air, but safety must come first. Lock all file cabinets that hold staff or clients’ personal information. During summertime there are more people coming and going in your office, so it’s important to keep files locked at all times. “Lock” computers by requiring a password to log on. Also require a different set of passwords to access documents or programs with sensitive information.Use your shredder!
Above all else, trust your instincts. If a situation doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If that walk through the parking lot is giving you a shiver down your spine, turn around and go back inside the restaurant or hotel lobby. No matter how busy you are, you are never too busy to be safe!
Andrew Wooten is a certified crime prevention practitioner and the president of S.A.F.E. (Safety Awareness Firearms Education). He has been in the safety and security industry for over 25 years. firstname.lastname@example.org