The following information is provided by A Positive Action Handbook entitled
"
A Senior's Guide to Crime Prevention."  This handbook is distributed to
seniors by the Rocky River Police Department in Rocky River, Ohio.  The
information was shared with the editor of this website and, therefore, has
been included on this web page.  We are sure that you will find it to be an
extremely useful resource.  Comments in brackets are those of the editor of
this site.
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Senior Safety
Safety for Seniors II
Women's Personal Safety Network
Women's Safety
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Just for Women Only!
Copyright© 2008 WPSN
WPSN

PARKING
  • Choose a well-lit space.  Make sure you can easily see your car and the area around it from a distance.  Note where you
    parked.
  • Look around before you get out of your car.  If you see suspicious-looking people around, drive on.
  • Lock all doors while you are in the car and when you leave it.
  • Be sure your windows are up and doors locked at all times - when at stop signs or traffic lights, when you are parked and still
    in the car.

RETURNING TO YOUR CAR
  • Have your car key ready before you reach your car.
  • Before you get into your car, check that no one is hiding in it.
  • Keep purses and packages out of sight - in the trunk or under the seat/on the floor.

IF YOUR CAR BREAKS DOWN
  • Put on the emergency flashers.
  • Stay inside your locked car if it is safe to do so.
  • Raise the hood or hang a white cloth on the door handle or outside mirror as a sign you need help. [Place a "Call Police" sign
    in the rear window if you have one (see Safety in Your Car).
  • If another driver offers help, open the window slightly to talk to him or her.  Have the person phone for help.  Do not get out of
    the car.
  • Don't let anyone in your car and only accept a ride from the police or local highway patrol or from a professional towing service
    who responded to your call for help.  Join a car association such as AAA..
  • Consider buying a car phone for emergencies.

IF A CAR HITS THE BACK OF YOUR CAR
  • If you feel unsafe, stay in your locked car until police arrive.  The accident may be a ploy to lure you out of your car.
  • If you fear you are in danger note the license number and description of the car.  Drive away and call police when you're in a
    safe place.
  • If the other driver leaves, note the license number, color, and model of the car.  Do not follow the car.

IF YOUR CAR IS BEING FOLLOWED
  • Do not drive home or pull over.  You could be trapped.  Instead, drive to the nearest police or fire station [as fire stations are
    always manned, your best choice may be the nearest fire station] or to a [busy]  public place where you can phone the police.
  • If you think it is unsafe to get out of your car, honk your horn steadily and flash your lights.  If you have a cell, phone 911.
  • Try to get the license number and description of the car following you.  Report it to the police.

THE DOs AND DON'Ts OF PROTECTING YOUR HOUSE KEYS
  • Do give a spare key to a trusted friend or neighbor in case you get locked out.
  • Do change your locks immediately if you lose your keys.
  • Don't hide house keys anywhere outside.  A burglar might find them.  If you can think of that one place no one would think to
    look, the burglar has already thought of that place!

SAFETY-PROOFING DOORS AND WINDOWS
  • Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer so you can see who is outside.
  • Be sure that outside doors are solid metal or hardwood--never glass or mostly glass.
  • Use more than a doorknob lock or chain lock.  You should also have a deadbolt with at least a 1-inch throw (the bolt that slides
    into the door frame).
  • Be sure that all windows have a locking device.
  • Check at the hardware store for locks that will work for your type of windows.  Also ask about installing steel pins; they stop
    some types of windows from opening fully.
  • Remember to secure your basement and attic windows.
  • Never leave a window open if you leave the room.  If you need to leave it open, install a locking device that will allow the window
    to be locked in that open position that is no more than 6 inches open.

LIST AND IDENTIFY VALUABLES - Marked property puts off thieves, helps police, and speeds up insurance claims.  Many libraries
and police stations lend out engraving tools.
  • Engrave valuable property with some marking.  
  • Keep photos of your valuables and a current list describing each item, with brand and serial number if appropriate.

GUARDING AGAIN FRAUD -- STOP FRAUD BY REPORTING IT
  • One-third of people who are victims of scam artists report them to police.  Report these criminals so they cannot take
    advantage of you or someone else in the future.
  • Agencies to contact include:
  • local police or sheriff's departments
  • local postal inspector
  • state insurance commissioner's office
  • area Office on Aging
  • Social Security Administration
  • state attorney general's office
  • local or state consumer complaint departments

IF YOU USE AN ATM
  • Go only during the day.
  • Use drive-up ATMs rather than walk-ups, if possible.
  • If using a walk-up ATM, lock your car and take only your ATM card and your car keys to the machine.
  • Get back into your car and do not use the ATM if you see anyone suspicious-looking hanging around.  If your gut feeling is that
    someone is making you feel uncomfortable, that is all you need to know -- get back in your car!  Whether or not that person will
    cause you harm is not at issue.  Why wait to find out?
  • Enter your transaction quickly and scan the area around you.
  • Take your cash or receipt and leave quickly.
  • Never accept help from a stranger by the ATM.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A CRIME VICTIM
YOUR CHANCES OF BEING A VICTIM DECREASE AS YOUR SAFETY MEASURES INCREASE.  BUT EVEN PEOPLE WHO ARE CAREFUL
CAN BECOME VICTIMS OF CRIME.

IF YOUR HOME IS BURGLARIZED WHILE YOU ARE AWAY
  • Do not go in if you think anyone may still be inside.  Go to a neighbor's home or a public phone.  
  • Call the police right away.
  • Do not touch anything.

IF SOMEONE BREAKS IN WHILE YOU ARE AT HOME
  • Do not confront the burglar.
  • Lock yourself in a bedroom or other room.
  • If there is a phone in the room, quietly dial 911.

IF YOU ARE ROBBED
  • Give up your valuables.  They are less important than your safety.
  • Phone police right away.
  • Try to remember what the robber looked like and what he or she was wearing.

IF YOU ARE ATTACKED OR RAPED
  • Hitting, biting, or screaming may allow you to escape, or it may lead to further harm.
  • If the attacker has a weapon, it is usually safer not to fight.
  • If you choose to fight, shout "fire."  People are more likely to respond to "fire" than to "help" or "rape."  Or use a personal attack
    alarm or pepper spray. Protection Devices
  • Phone police right after the attack.  Do not wash.  It destroys evidence.  Also, go to the hospital or a doctor as soon as you can.
  • There are victim assistance and rape crisis programs in many cities.  Contact them if you need emotional or financial help.
  • Press charges when the criminal is caught.  This helps stop future crimes.
Because of the continuously evolving nature of crime as well as new techniques or technology in
crime prevention, be sure to check this page periodically for new or updated tips.
Return to Pg 1 of Safety for Seniors
(continued from Seniors I)