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The authority on gender empowerment in business for nearly 20 years.

Potentially life-saving safety tips for working women on the go

Written by Staff Writer

June 19, 2023

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? We all shout at the screen, telling her not to be so stupid!

Yet, this is exactly the situation which 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 which isn’t always of their choosing.

Fortunately most of these interactions don’t have the consequences which we see in the movies and if you’re fortunate should even result in improving your business. What can you do though, to ensure that you don’t become a victim? 

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 which 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 which 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 which 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!

Defend yourself

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 with a gun in your face, shouting at you to get out of the car. Continual practice, situational awareness and instant reactions are what are needed here.

Use technology

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 which 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. 

Read more tips and insights in the 18th edition of Top Women Leaders:

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