Richard Parfitt, Director of Public Safety –
Who has not heard the adages ‘watch where you step’, ‘don’t talk to strangers’ and ‘don’t run with scissors’. Though sometimes funny, they have been passed down for generations to keep us and our children safe, but sometimes we forget or ignore these common sense warnings and others like them. In a similar way we block-out our internal monologue, that inner voice that tells us we shouldn’t do certain careless or reckless things in life.
The two safety mechanisms mentioned above are easy to use and cost nothing, except maybe a little more thought and possibly some time.
Because danger never takes a vacation, safety must never take a holiday. Some of the best advice for protecting yourself is not about training in martial arts, the latest weapons on the market, or the latest technology, but from your awareness of your surroundings. This is not intended to have you become paranoid, or become a student of actuarial science, but to be more aware. Always evaluate what you are doing and where you are. Have you been out walking and the shortcut to your destination is a darkened street and your ‘gut feeling’ tells you not to go that way…do you continue on that path or go a different route? Many times we ignore those ‘gut’ instincts or intuition and go into potentially dangerous situations we could have avoided. Maybe not always accurate, but those instincts are hard-wired into us from the days of the caveman when man had to protect himself from animal predators. Unfortunately today we must protect ourselves from human predators.
You can train yourself, your loved-ones, and especially your children the importance of the responsibility of protecting themselves. We don’t want to give our children the belief, or maintain the notion ourselves, that our safety is someone else’s responsibility. There have been various campaigns over the years that help us remember that we are ultimately responsible for our safety: don’t drink and drive; wear seatbelts and more recently, don’t text and drive. These marketing campaigns and messages stress the need to protect yourself and others.
Gavin de Becker, an expert on the prediction and management of violence and author of a number of books on protecting ourselves wrote in his book, The Gift of Fear, “whether it is learned the easy way or hard way, the truth remains that your safety is yours. It is not the responsibility of the police, the government, industry, the apartment building manager, or the security company” (p.12).
To take safety seriously means accepting responsibility for our own protection. Become aware of your surroundings; take notice of people or circumstances that seem out of the ordinary and trust your instincts. If that inner voice says, ‘don’t walk down that dark street’ or ‘don’t take a ride from that person’, trust those instincts. Weapons may protect you from violence, but the best solution, according to de Becker is not from technology, but intuition.
You have to know when your intuition is sending you messages and trust them. Animals have natural instincts, but de Becker says that we sometimes do not explore those mes-sages and even ignore those ‘survival signals’ (p.31). The messengers of intuition can include the following:
• Nagging feelings
• Persistent thoughts
• Gut feelings
De Becker says that intuition might send one or more of these messages to get your attention, and you must recognize them for what they are. Because they differ according to urgency, you must also understand they are not all equal and the ranking goes from the more simple of nagging feelings to the messenger of highest order, fear (p.73).
Train yourself in a simple way and apply those concepts to your safety at home and work and remember with any training you are going to react to situations based on how you’ve trained. Trust your intuition while using what-if scenarios, where you can mentally plan for what you would do in a particular situation. What-if scenarios can be done any time; while driving, walking or just relaxing. It doesn’t require a classroom setting. Being aware of your surroundings can help you avoid becoming a victim of an accident or a crime.
As an example, if you’re walking to your car at night in a dark parking lot, be aware of people around while thinking: “What would I do if I’m confronted? Where would I go?” Basically, have a plan in mind and if the situation changes, for example if you see someone sitting on your car’s hood, what would you do? This is not about becoming paranoid, but aware.
Being aware of your surroundings and listening to your inner voice are two ways that you can increase your safety as well as those around you.
Edison State Collage
www.edison.edu | 800-749-2322