At JomsVikings Protection and Security, we are committed to helping people stay safe in their day-to-day lives and we know that making even the smallest adjustments can have a HUGE impact on your overall safety. As such, we are starting an ongoing series of tips and thoughts about general safety.
We all spend lots of time in and around vehicles. Many times, our most precious cargo (loved ones) is with us. Coupled with the current crime trends and general chaos in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, having some proactive ideas about Situational Awareness is more important than ever before.
We are calling this Situational Awareness blog: Locked, then Loaded! 5 tips for vehicle safety.
1. Lock, then Load!
The first, and most important step, when climbing into the car is to lock the doors. This controls who enters our “concoon” or safe space. After that, you can proceed to look at your cellphone, put keys in the ignition, set the GPS, rummage through your belongings, etc. If we are approached, but not accessible, the decision to engage or not is made solely by us. If we feel uneasy about the situation, we simply put the vehicle in gear and drive away. Crisis averted!
2. Avoid the Sliders!
We aren’t talking about White Castle Sliders! Although, that may also be a consideration. We are talking about gas station “Sliders.” There is a national trend happening at gas stations. It is called “Sliding.” This happens when unsuspecting people get out of their vehicle (usually larger SUVs that block their view) at the pump, start engaging in the multitude of steps that it takes to refuel, and neglect to lock their vehicle. While they are engaged in the process, a thief pulls alongside them at the other pump, slips out of their car, and quietly reaches in to steal their belongings, the most common are purses. The most effective protection is to simply lock the doors of the vehicle upon exit. This one-step process can save us the time-consuming process of closing credit card accounts, changing locks on our house, getting new identification, and dealing with the fear that these people probably know where we live. All it takes to increase your level of safety is the push of a button.
3. Trust the key fob “unlock” button!
Most vehicles have a key fob for our convenience. When approaching our vehicle, if we aren’t using a “proximity” key, we press the unlock button once, and it unlocks the driver’s door. A second button push unlocks all the doors. By doing this, we give access to our vehicle to whomever wants to enter from the other unlocked doors. Just as in tip #1, we want to keep our “cocoon” secure so that we have the opportunity to decide who gets in. Unlocking the other doors unnecessarily leaves us fully exposed to someone else’s will.
If your key fob happens to be a “proximity” key, be sure that the settings are such that it takes a deliberate action to unlock all doors. If you are unsure how to adjust the settings, have your local dealer walk you through the process. It is worth the time and effort.
4. Light up the night!
All vehicles give you the option of setting interiors light to come on when the door opens. These settings will either be electronic or manual. Regardless of your system type be certain that the interior lights activate either when the door is opened or when the key fob activates the unlock feature. To climb into a vehicle without confirming it is safe would simply be foolish. Without proper lighting, it is impossible to assess whether there is something (or someone) inside the vehicle that shouldn’t be there. You certainly do not need a bomb-sniffing dog to sweep it prior to entering. But, a cursory glance to ensure the contents of your center console and glove compartment aren’t strewn all over the seats would be prudent. Awareness is the key to avoiding dangerous situations.
5. Leave room to move!
When coming to an intersection or moving through stop-and-go traffic, always leave a way of escape. Leaving extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether you do it so that you have room to escape a possible violent incident or leave room if a driver comes up too fast behind you, having extra space doesn’t cost a thing. But the potential rewards could be priceless.
A good rule of thumb has always been to leave enough room so you can see where the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you meet the pavement. While that is certainly good, we suggest you leave a few more feet.
Carjackings are on the rise in this nation. That is just a fact! They are happening in “good neighborhoods” all over the country at an alarmingly increased rate. They are also proving to become increasingly violent in nature. The vehicle you are driving is your MOBILE safe zone. Giving yourself a pathway of escape would be a significant step in avoiding victimization.
Lastly, be prepared to use your vehicle as a weapon if the situation dictates. Not all of us are equipped or prepared to have a physical response to a violent situation. And any violence on our part should certainly be a “last resort” option. If all you have as an option for survival is your vehicle… then use all you have!
In the end, we cannot outsource our personal safety. Your loved ones want you home at the end of the day. Making small, yet significant adjustments in how we maneuver through our day could make all the difference in the world! Each of these tips, when practiced consistently, can become second nature. Like tying your shoes, you’ll get to a point where these things just…happen. The fight you always win, is the fight you never have!
This blog is brought to you by JomsVikings Protection and Security.