Personal Safety for Older Adults

March 14, 2009

Stay alert, stand tall and exude confidence
KeysThinking about safety when you’re out and about does not mean that you need to be afraid or paranoid of every stranger you encounter. But you do need to be aware of your surroundings. Stay alert, stand tall and exude confidence.

Most criminals are looking for a vulnerable, easy target and will decide you are the wrong person to approach. If you feel uneasy walking alone try to pair up with someone or carry a whistle or other personal safety alarm. At night, use well lit, busy streets and walk in the middle of the sidewalk.

If you are carrying a purse, hold it close to your body keeping one hand over the opening. Replacing a purse with a waist/fanny pack would be an even better idea. Your wallet is safer in your front pocket than in your back pocket. It is best to keep your keys in your pocket not in your backpack or purse.

If possible avoid carrying large amounts of cash but if you must be discreet when you open your wallet to make a purchase.

Watch for public phones or places where you can ask for help. Free emergency assistance is always available by dialing “0”.

Don’t stand by your home or car searching for your keys. Have your keys ready and in your hand when approaching your home or car.

Vary your daily routine. Having predictable patterns could place you more at risk.

When traveling by car park in open, well-lit areas and when returning to your car visually check the vehicles interior. Lock all your car doors and windows of your vehicle. If you are inside the vehicle only roll the windows down a few inches, until you are in motion. It is very important to ensure that your vehicle is in good repair, that you have enough gas to get you to your destination and that you know your route. Store a flashlight or flare in your car. If you do break down and someone offers to help, stay in your vehicle and ask them to call for assistance. Do not accept a ride.

Safety advice to keep in mind while using Public Transit

1. Plan the route you will be taking and know the transit schedule before you leave home.

2. Choose busy, well-lit bus stops after dark.

3. If traveling late a night ask to be let out closer to your street or door.

4. At night try to sit near the bus driver on sparsely occupied buses.

5. On Skytrain scan the car interior before boarding to make sure there other passengers aboard, if possible sit in the middle of the car so you have more options to move if you are bothered by the passenger next to you.

Traveling Out of Town

1. Make reservations so you know your guaranteed a place to stay.

2. When traveling alone ask for a room close to the manager’s unit or the second floor or higher.

3. Keep your hotel room door and windows locked at all times.

4. Always look through the peephole before opening the door and if you are the least bit suspicious, keep the door closed and check with the front desk.

5. Do not keep valuables, especially cash (it is advisable not to use cash as your main form of payment), passports, airline tickets or credit cards in the hotel room, keep them in the room safety deposit box or take them with you.

6. Before setting out in an unfamiliar area ask the front desk for the safest route.

7. Carry as little cash as possible, using a credit card or traveler’s checks is a much better option.

Keeping your home secure while you are away

1. Place light timers in the living room and at least one bedroom and have them activate at various times in the evening.

2. Use a timer to turn the T.V or radio on and off during the day.

3. Suspend newspaper delivery.

4. Have someone reliable collect your mail each day.

5. Give a friend, relative or neighbour a house key, your itinerary, and phone/cell numbers where you can be reached and ask them to check on your home periodically.

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