Recently I have noticed an uptick of “suspicious person/vehicle” posts in my neighborhood from people out walking/hiking/cycling through the neighborhood or one of the many trails and parks in our area.
In this age of home schooling, social distancing, and quarantine, the need to get out of our homes for some fresh air and relaxation has never been greater. It may not be feasible to always use the buddy system, but there are a few simple things you can do to help keep yourself and your neighborhood safer.
- First and foremost, trust your instincts. If the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up and your gut is telling you to do something, do it. Don’t worry about going out of your way, being silly, or politically incorrect. Your safety is paramount.
- If you’re going for run/walk/ride, be sure someone knows where you went and how long you think you’ll be gone. Leave a note for your family.
- Snap a picture and text it to someone to let them know where you are. Text messages do not need as much signal strength as voice calls to go through. Texts will also keep trying to send until they get enough signal strength. This will also create a “ping” to the cell towers.
- Take pictures along the way of landmarks. They will be available in the cloud if needed for someone to backtrack your route.
- Even in worst case scenarios, take pictures. Picture files contain EXIF data that pinpoint the location using GPS, the date, and time it was taken.
- If you see anything you even think might be suspicious, snap a few pictures. You can delete them later, but you have the security of having them just in case.
- Share your experience or suspicions on your neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor groups. Check if your neighborhood has a specific “Crimewatch” group.
- Walk facing traffic, but cycle in the direction of traffic. Be alert and follow all traffic laws.
- Carry a protective device. Pepper spray can deter an aggressive dog, wildlife, and humans if needed. Even a simple police whistle is a deterrent if you are not comfortable with using sprays. Give whistles to your kids and teach them to only use them in emergencies.
- We all love our headphones. Unfortunately, the may keep us from observing danger until it is too late. Try keeping your volume down to around 25% or lower so you can hear your surroundings. Personally, I use a single earbud and keep my open ear facing the higher traffic side of me. This works in the office as well so I don’t scream when someone sneaks up on me!
- If you are coming up on someone, remember to announce yourself “passing on the right”. This can avoid an accidental collision or the heightened pulse rate of thinking someone is sneaking up behind you.
- Download a GPS map to your phone in case you get lost and can’t get a signal. Google maps is one that will allow you to download maps for use offline.
- Don’t wear dark colors. Purchase a roll of reflective tape. Use a strip of tape on your clothes, bike, stroller, leash, or anywhere else that can be seen by oncoming traffic in both directions.