By Gordon Knight, Co-Founder of SAFER
You know that moment in a movie when the heroine goes into the dark house or, even worse, into the basement to check something out?
This is exactly the situation that thousands of women working alone face every day. They’re doing the business equivalent of a blind date all the time – meeting a stranger in a place that isn’t always of their choosing.
Fortunately, most of these interactions don’t have the consequences which we see in the movies – here are 5 tips to help avoid dangerous situations:
Let people know where you are
While this sounds obvious, how often do your colleagues in the office know exactly where you are, who you’re meeting and how long you’re going to be? Would they raise an alert if you didn’t get back in time? There are several apps that allow you to share your location in real-time, but if something did go wrong would the people watching know?
Is pepper spray enough?
”I’ve got pepper spray, so I’ll be fine” is something that we often hear. It definitely has a useful role to play in a layered approach, but is it giving you a false sense of security? Have you tried it out? Do you know if it’s going to come out in a fine spray that can get blown away, or worse, back onto you? Or is it a jet, which must be aimed directly at your attacker’s eyes? This could be like trying to hit the bull’s eye on a dart board while under extreme stress. Do you know how firmly you need to press the trigger? It’s not as easy as you might think! How close do you need to be for it to be effective? Are you always carrying it in your hand, even though it may send out the wrong impression to your potential client? If it’s in your handbag then it’s no use to you when you need it!
Self defence courses are very valuable, as long as you’re trained so that you instinctively know exactly how to react in any given real-world situation. One day spent in a classroom won’t help you when there’s someone threatening you. Continual practice, situational awareness and instant reactions are what are needed here.
We all carry our phones with us wherever we go. Having it in your hand is far more normal and innocuous than walking into a client brandishing your pepper spray or Taser. There are many personal safety apps that you could have on your phone, some much better than others. If you use an app like SAFER (www.saferapp.co.za) for example, you can simply shake your phone or discretely press the volume buttons and an alert is instantly raised. Your exact location is automatically shared with a network of thousands of armed responders, while at the same time their Control Centre is notified. There’s even a link sent to all of your nominated emergency contacts, so everyone knows that you’re in trouble. They are able to see or hear what is happening to you using the phone’s camera, which is activated as part of the alert.
Trust your instincts
We all seem to have an inbuilt ability to detect when something feels wrong. So often, when interviewing victims, they say that they knew it was going to happen before it did. If anything about the situation doesn’t feel right, rather cancel the appointment, change the venue or take a colleague along with you. No potential sale is worth risking your life.