Sunday, October 18, 2009

Survivor Sunday: The Dangers in Daylight

Most people are fully aware and prepared for the dangers that come as the sun goes down.  They lock their doors, set their alarms, and stay inside until the next day arrives.  It's understandable; a great deal of crimes do occur at night with all those opportunities the cover of dark gives the criminal that can't be had when the sun's out.  But that doesn't mean one's risk of becoming a victim leaves with the night so here are some tips to keep in mind to remain safe even in the sunlight:

Tip #1: Beware of Dusk and Dawn

These two times of day, where it's still or getting to be light out, frequently give people a false sense of security.  Those early morning and late evening joggers become prime targets for just that reason...with their iPods rocking and concentration set on the run rather than their surroundings joggers are ripe for the kill.  It's true that these times of the day are great opportunities to get a workout in without the hassle of other runners, but it's also true that the potential killer simply sees it as a time in which a target is available minus all those pesky witnesses.  ...The tip?  Either push your run times to where there will be more people around than just you (and a potential attacker) or run with some friends.  The calories burned are the same no matter the time of day or the number of people out with you.

Tip #2: Midday Murders Happen

The sun is shining and people are out and about enjoying the fine midday weather.  A guy, his arm in a sling, walks up to a pretty girl and asks if she could help him in unloading a sailboat from his car...he would himself but, well, the busted arm and all makes it hard for him to do all on his own.  The pretty girl agrees and heads off with him...the pretty girl is never seen alive again.  That was the story of Janice Ott and Denise Naslund from Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah, Washington...both victims of serial killer Ted Bundy on July 14, 1974.  ...The tip?  No matter the time of day it's deeply unwise to follow a stranger (even a seemingly handsome and somewhat crippled one) off somewhere alone.  Don't be afraid to decline to help and suggest the person go in search of someone better able to help.  If you really do feel the need to help there's always suggesting someone else for them ("I'm not strong enough to help, sorry, but that friggin' huge guy looks pretty capable") or asking others in the area to go with you and Mr. Sailor-In-Need ("The more the merrier, right?")  If the person in distress moves on or declines your new offers then you're off the hook from the guilt of not helping and all the safer...of course if the guy does turn you down and appears to go off to the next available pretty lil' thing with the same story you might want to notify the nearest official (lifeguard, park ranger, cop, etc) that there's a guy that might to be in search of more than just a helpful hand walking around.

Tip #3: Secluded is Secluded, No Matter the Time

The title pretty much speaks for itself.  Yes, I'm sure the national park or nice country road is lovely to walk down on a nice sunny day, but that doesn't mean it has to be walked alone people!  Think of it this way, while you can better see the scenery an attacker can better see you, the lack of witnesses, and what he's doing.  ...The tip?  Bring some friends.  None of the natural beauty of where you are will be lost if some friends join you in the appreciation of it; heck having friends along might increase your enjoyment because you're sharing the experience with those you know, care for, and trust.  Remember, what can be enjoyed alone can often be better, and safer, enjoyed with others.

Tip #4: Go Ahead, Make A Scene

This is something that parents frequently teach their children but forget the importance of themselves; don't be afraid to make a scene.  It's understandable that people fear that, if wrong in the threat assessment (or, even if correct, the threat level not being obvious to others), they will look strange, incredibly rude, or even crazy to others nearby...but kidnappers, car-jackers (the ones where they want you to stay in the car with them), and killers likely depend on this fact for their success at times.  Take a tip from yourselves on this one, moms (and other older family members), and don't be afraid to scream, yell, hit, kick, and otherwise make as much noise and fuss as possible if some creep tries to grab or threaten you in attempts to take you somewhere you don't want to go.  Better safe and thought crazy than be remembered fondly by those you loved and left behind.

Tip #5: Always Be Aware!

It would seem this essay is encouraging paranoia or hyper-vigilance, but that's not the case.  The idea isn't to assume every person or circumstance is a threat, it's merely to be more aware in general.  For the most part criminals aren't really all that invested in one specific victim, they're just going for the easiest mark and a good way from keeping from being that is to be aware of what's going on.  Look around you, keep your headphones low enough so that you can still hear people, and avoid areas that look a little unsafe (i.e. secluded).  Even if you're really not taking in that much look like you are.  Look people in the eye, keep your head up, and give off the vibe of being fully in charge...killers are losers looking for an easy win, if you look like the type to fight they're going to move onto the next person.  Also it never hurts to bring that herding mentality so frequently used in trips to the ladies' room into other aspects of life - smoking breaks, walks to the car (the last two in the group can park next to each other), and even taking the family out to the beach or park (this one gives moms and dads the added bonus of extra babysitters and helps with that whole "it takes a village to raise a child" ideal).  The more aware you are of your surroundings the safer you are, enough said.

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