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Health Feature Articles

Living Safe

Gail Carlson, MPH, Ph.D., Continuing Medical Education, School of Medicine, University of Missouri Extension


Paying attention to your safety is an important part of taking care of your health. Be aware of your surroundings and take steps to prevent falls, car accidents, fires and crime. When it comes to your personal safety, the first step toward prevention is recognizing that you are a potential crime victim. Protecting yourself from crime not only means protecting yourself but protecting your home as well. How would you respond to the following questions?

  1. Do you stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, or driving?
  2. Do you avoid places or situations that put you at risk?
  3. Do you vary your daily routine often enough so that individuals can't predict a pattern in your coming and going to and from home, or from an office?
  4. Do you have easy to use double-cylinder deadbolt locks on your doors at home; do you use them?
  5. Do you live in a neighborhood where neighbors look out for each other?
  6. Do you have a list of all the valuables in your home in a safety deposit box at the bank?
  7. Do you trim tree branches and shrubs that hide your doors and windows?
  8. If you're traveling by car, do you get maps, plan your route ahead of time and have the car checked before you leave?
  9. Do you let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return?
  10. Do you always carry your medical information, in case of an emergency?

A "No" response to any question suggests some additional steps you could take to protect yourself. Here are some other things you can do to protect yourself and your home:


  • Carry a cellular phone or CB radio in your vehicle. When you can, call ahead and let someone know when you expect to arrive. 
  • Carry money, credit cards and valuables in an inside pocket, don't carry a purse if you don't have to. If you must carry a purse, carry it close to your body, not dangling by the straps. 
  • Put lights and a radio on timers to create the impression that someone is at home while you're away. Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. Stop mail and deliveries, or ask a neighbor to pick up mail and newspapers. 
  • Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through vacant lots, wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys. 
  • Don't give your name or phone number to callers who have the wrong number. Tell them to look up the number again. 
  • Keep alert for possible scams and get rich quick schemes.

In spite of our fears, few of us will ever become crime victims. We are at much greater of risk of being injured or killed in a fall or automobile accident. Nevertheless, assaults and personal attacks can happen to anyone. Taking precautions and staying alert can further reduce your risk. If you look confident and sure of yourself, you are less likely to be a target. One of the least expensive measures you can take to protect yourself against crime is to change your own behavior. Adopt a "security conscious" lifestyle. The best prevention is precaution. Stay alert, trust your instincts and if you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.



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Last Updated 05/05/2009