National Emergency Medicine Assoc. (NEMA)


a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)


Be Safe: One Hundred Practical Ways Seniors Can
Protect Themselves Against Crime.


In the last few years, crime has escalated across the country. After a few moments with the daily paper or TV news, one would have to wonder; can we be safe from crime?

Consider that someone in the United States is:

murdered every 22 minutes
robbed every 47 seconds
seriously assaulted every 28 seconds
Further, there is a crime against personal property committed every 3 seconds!

Clearly, this problem has gotten too great for Americans to rely on local police for protection.

Out hospitals are so filled with crime victims that resources are stretched to the limit. Each of us must take every measure we can to protect ourselves and our families. this book is designed to help you do just that. the suggestions will help empower you to be safe.

Please read it today and then share it with your family.

A. Safety at Home

We all wan tot feel safe at home -- but are we? The facts are that we are more likely to suffer an attack at home than anywhere else because home is where we spend most of our time.

All a criminal needs to invade your home are time and concealment. If you take proper safety measures in your home, you will become a far less attractive victim. Begin with these suggestions:

1. Install a peephole that provides a field of vision of 190 degrees or more.

2. Make sure your outer doors are solid and in good condition (not hollow-core).

3. Use only dead-bold locks on exterior doors.

4. Keep a careful inventory of who has keys to your house (family, cleaning help, etc.).

5. Don't ignore strangers at your door; they may assume that you are not home and break in.

6. Don't open the door to a stranger, not even a crack. Talk through the closed and locked door.

8. Verify a repairman's identification by calling his office before you let him in.

9. Make sure your door bell is in good working order and that it is loud enough for you to hear it from any room in the house.

10. Replace any broken window locks, even on upper floors.

11. Install proper lighting in front of your house and behind it.

12. Trim back bushes that are near the house and large enough for someone to hide behind.

13. If you live alone, don't advertise it, especially if you are a woman. Consider adding another name to your mailbox. Use your first initial instead of your name in the phone book.

14. Never admit to a stranger -- on the phone or in person -- that you are alone.

15. Carefully word your answering machine message; "We are not available " instead of "We are not home."

16. the only people that should now you are going on a trip are people who can help your house look occupied -- family and neighbors.

17. Instead of stopping delivery of mail and newspapers when you are away from home, have a neighbor pick them up.

18. Never put your address on your key ring; keys do get lost -- and stolen.

19. Never leave your house key with your car keys when leaving them at a repair shop.

20. Install a phone on every floor of the house.

21. If you will be away for several days, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway so it appears that someone is home.

22. Install a timer to program a few lights to go on and off sat dusk and late in the evening.

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23.If you must hide a key outside your home, hide it behind the house where no one will be seen retrieving it.

24. Make sure nothing valuable can be seen through an open window.

25. rent a safety deposit box for jewelry and other valuables.

26. Never talk in public about valuable collections, such as coins or stamps that you have at home.

27. Have someone you trust mow and water your lawn in your absence.

28. Make sure your address is never printed in the newspaper in connection with a wedding, funeral, or other event that the entire household would attend.

29. Turn down the volume of your phone before you leave the house. A constantly ringing phone is another indicator that no one is home.

30. Encourage your neighbors to install exterior lights.

31. Leave a light on when you go to bed.

32. Lock your garage.

33. When buying a house, don't choose the corner lot. Four out of ten burglaries occur in those homes because they have fewer neighbors.

34. Live as far away from a busy street as possible. Criminals strike 40% more often within three blocks of a major street for an easy escape.

35. Don't assume you are safe because you have a high-tech alarm system. No system is fail safe and some professional criminals can break the codes.

36. Lock everything! 50% of all completed burglaries occur in homes where doors and windows are unlocked.

37. Don't relax on safety during the day. 38% of all burglaries occur during the day.

38. When calling 911, give your address first, in case you are disconnected before completing the emergency report.

39. If a stranger wants to make an emergency call from your house, phone it in yourself for him or her.

40. Don't leave ladders outside.

41. Use metal rods to reinforce sliding glass doors.

42. If you don't have n alarm system, purchase "dummy" decals that make it appear that you do.

43. A clothes line can tell a burglar who lives in a house. Especially if you are a woman living alone, bring clothes in as soon as they are done drying.

44. Make sure that any pet door is no more than 6 inches across.

45. Alter your schedule. Don't be predictable in your comings and goings.

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B. Safety At Work

Too often the workplace is turning into a battlefield of violence. Disgruntled employees with guns and mad stalkers make the headlines, yet they seem removed from day-to-day life. Try the following to minimize your risk of crime at work.

46. Do not accept a job with a company that is not committed to safety.

47. Never work alone after hours.

48. Set up a car pool with some of your peers at work or in your neighborhood.

49. Avoid stairwells that aren't well-lit and monitored by police.

50. When riding an elevator, try to stand as close to the floor buttons as possible in case you need to press the emergency alarm button.

51. carefully lock up your purse/wallet/valuables when you take a break and leave your office.

52. If you must work late, notify security guards at your office so they can monitor your area.

53. When working at a register, do not leave the cash drawer open long enough for someone to size up the cash in the drawer.

54. Encourage employees safety training in your workplace.

56. If you interview prospective employees, be sure to carefully screen them and check their records.

57. Be careful when notifying an employee of the termination of his or her job. A medical or psychiatric professional should be on hand for these situations.

58. When closing a store, keep the cash register well-lit and open to let burglars know that there is no money in it.

59. Make sure your business has out-door lighting that focuses on all means of entry.

60. Never open or close a store alone.

61. Be sure to keep track of suspicious or troublesome customers. If they repeatedly disrupt the store, notify the police.

62. If you run a store or a business, make sure that employee records are kept locked up.

63. If you are traveling for business, do not advertise your travel information.

64. In a large business, keep track of visitors by using badges or name tags, and be aware of unfamiliar faces in the workplace.

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C. Safety On The Road

Often when we travel by car, our minds are focused on many things; our next stop, the weather, the song on the radio... Yet, all too often, that is when criminals strike -- carjacking is becoming a national epidemic. A few safety tips can make a big difference.

65. Quickly size up the area around and inside your car before approaching it.

66. Have your keys ready to unlock your car door.

67. Lock your car as soon as you get into it.

68. Park as close to a street light as possible.

69. Always drive safely to avoid making other drivers angry.

70. Don't pull over for anyone late at night or in an unfamiliar area. Drive to the local police station or a busy, well-lit area, before stopping your car.

71. Avoid driving alone at night.

72. Never leave your keys in the car, especially in the ignition. 20% of all stolen cars had the key in the ignition.

73. Use car alarms, key-less entry codes, devices that lock the steering column, cut off fuel supply, or prevent the car from starting without your key or turning a switch if possible.

74. Keep packages, telephones, wallets, purses, and any valuables out of sight when leaving your car AND when driving it to avoid car-jacking.

75. When you buy a car, try to get a removable car radio.

76. If your car breaks down, drive slowly for as long as possible until you get to a safe, well-lit area.

77. If a stranger tries to help you when your car breaks down, stay in your locked car and tell him/her to get help.

78. Get a car phone if you can afford one, or a CB radio, but remember that it can reach criminals as well as people willing to help you.

79. DO NOT pick up a hitchhiker!

80. Keep a working flashlight in your car at all times.

81. Have your car checked and/or repaired regularly to avoid a breakdown.

82. Tell a "buddy," a friend or relative when and where you are going and when you will be coming back. Notify your "buddy" of a change in plans if necessary.

83. If you feel that you are being followed, DO NOT drive home, go to the police station or a safe place.

84. make sure you know of several safe places in the area that you are driving such as all night convenience stores, police or fire stations, hospitals, etc.

85. Do not stop to help another driver unless there is a serious accident; even then, use your best judgment. Your best bet is to immediately notify the police of the nature and location of the problem.

86. When parking in a hotel or condominium lot, remove your luggage and other belongings from the car.

87. Don't make it obvious that you are a tourist. Keep maps, brochures, etc. out of sight.

88. If possible, rent a car when traveling far from home. An out-of-state license place can make your car highly noticeable.

89. When parking at a mall, hotel, or any large parking lot, remember where you put your car. Try parking as close to the building as possible.

90. If you are confronted by a car thief, don't risk your life, give up your car if you have to.

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C. Safety Around Town

Walking down the street or in a store, day or night, in a big city or small town, makes us the most personally vulnerable to attack.

Purse snatching and pick-pocketing are running rampant on busy streets. A day does not go by when we don't hear or read about a stabbing, a drive-by shooting, or a hold-up. There are many myths about protection from street crime, but the following suggestions are known to reduce your risk of attack.

92. Make brief but confident eye contact with pedestrians. It shows that you are aware of your surroundings.

93. Walk briskly with your head up.

94. Don't distract yourself by wearing headphones or reading.

95. When using an ATM, choose one in a busy, well-lit area and never allow someone to stand behind you.

96. Try using a waist or "fanny" pack instead of the traditional purse.

97. carry a traditional purse tightly, under your arm, "football style".

98. Carry valuables in you pocket whenever possible.

99. Beware of possible purse snatchers on bikes as well as on foot.

100. Keep your purse zipped and hold onto the zipper.

101. Consider a personal alarm or mace.

102. chose an ATM number that no one could guess. Avoid using your social security number, license number, credit card number, or your birthday.

103. Carry as little in your purse or pockets as possible. Keep credit cards to a minimum.

104. On a bus, sit as close to the driver as you can.

105. When you are on a train or bus, hold your belongings on your lap, with both hands.

106. Don't sit near the door on a train. Criminals often grab a purse or necklace on their way out of the automatically closing door.

107. Always walk facing traffic.

108. Wear glasses on a chain so they can not be knocked away easily.

109. When walking on the streets, try to walk with fiends, especially if you must be walking around at night.

110. If someone grabs you and your are able to fight back, do so -- but only if you can follow through completely. Give it your best shot.

111. Beware of someone who "accidentally" bumps into you.

112. Leave a store or mall well before closing time to avoid being alone and tired.

113. Remember where you entered the mall.

114. If you are suspicious of someone following you out of or around the store, let him go ahead of you and make sure he goes to his car or to another store and doesn't walk around aimlessly.

115. Avoid appearing lost or confused. Go to the information desk for any type of assistance.

116. In an attacker approaches you in the parking lot or at your car, drop your packages if you can, thus causing the criminal to look away form you and giving you time to run away and call for help.

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D. Safety From Sexual Assault

This is a topic that most people do not talk about, but one that is growing more horrible and more important every day. Many sexual assailants know no age, race, or social limit; the oldest reported rape victim was 92 years old. It seems very easy for a woman to feel trapped and unsafe anywhere, anytime.

Statistics regarding sexual assault are terrifying; every five minutes, in the United States alone, rape is attempted or committed. these suggestions may help prevent the most hideous crime imaginable:

117. take all previously mentioned measures in your home, car, and on the streets.

118. Find a "buddy", someone you trust, to check with you as you come and go, especially if you live in an apartment or condo.

119. Don't hide a key outside your home or apartment.

120. When changing clothes, keep shades and blinds closed.

121. Be aware of escape routes in your home.

122. Keep a weapon handy, such as a club or chemical spray, in your car and at home. Remember that guns are extremely dangerous and lethal. Avoid using them.

123. Learn a form of self-defense/martial arts.

124. Never walk alone, especially at night, in a quiet, unfamiliar area.

125. Avoid working late or taking evening courses where there is no security guard or no one to walk with you.

126. If someone bumps your car or visa versa, make sure you are in a safe area before getting out of your car to survey the damage.

127. Don't use a pay phone unless you are in a well-lit, safe area.

128. Try to memorize emergency numbers, the less time you take to get help, the more time you have to get away.

129. If you are walking and a suspicious person in a car drives next to you and tries to get you into the car or harass you, turn around and go to a safe place. Report the license plate number if you can.

130. If you do run into trouble and calling for help does not attract anyone's attention, yell "FIRE!" People are sometimes more likely to react to the threat of fire than someone calling for help.

In closing, perhaps the most important safety tip to follow is: don't live in fear, but always be aware of the risks that surround us every day. review this book often, so that safety becomes second nature and you can enjoy living. Do all that you can to BE SAFE.

Resources used in compiling this book:

Bresnick, Jan; "Get Street Smart"; Prevention Magazine; January 1994; pages 69-74, 127.
Coline, Stacey; "The New Safety Rules for the '90's"; Redbook; September 1993; pages 58 & 62.
Eaves, Allison Victoria and Betty L. (Editors); What Every Woman Needs To Know About Sexual Assault; Guardian Press, Copyright 1993; Allen, TX.
Eaves, Richard W. and Watson, Steven E.; Don't Be The Next Victim; Guardian Press; Copyright 1993; Allen, TX.
Englander, Debra Wishik; "How to Foil Purse-Snatchers"; New Woman; September 1993; pages 144 & 148.
Fike, Richard A.; Staying Alive, Your Crime Prevention Guide; Acropolis Books, Ltd.; Copyright 1994; Washington, D.C.
Crime Prevention In and Around Your Car; Pattison Press; Copyright 1994; Pattison, TX.


During 1992, in the United States alone, 

Over 23,000 people were murdered or killed;
Over 100,000 women were raped by force;
Over 600,000 robberies were committed;
Over 1,100,000 people were assaulted;
Almost 8 million cases of larceny theft were reported;
Almost 3 million burglaries occurred; and
Over a million and a half cars were stolen.

This book is given to you in hopes that you will not become one of those terrible statistics in 1995. Produced by the National Emergency Medicine Association, it is designed to help you become more aware of how you and your loved ones can be safer from criminal attacks.

Share "Be Safe!" with a friend. Just choose the feedback page and fill in the appropriate boxes. For additional copies please send a minimum donation of $4.95 per booklet. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

Please send your gift of support to: Seniors Life Council,
a program of the National Emergency Medicine Association.

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Copyright 1997 National Emergency Medicine Assoc., Inc.
Last modified: December 29, 2021