Of course we rely on public safety officers to look out for our well-being, just as we rely on those who design and maintain public spaces to create an environment that is safe. But a large amount of personal safety comes down to individual behaviors.
Here are some tips to keep Miami residents safer no matter where they are.
Safety at home:
- Always lock your doors, whether you’re at home or away. 23% of Americans say they rarely lock their doors while they’re at home, and 7% leave them unlocked even while they’re out of the house. No matter how safe your neighborhood feels, there’s no reason to essentially invite someone to walk in and take your belongings.
- Don’t leave your spare key sitting under the mat or flowerpot. If you really find that you need your spare key, you won’t mind having to work a bit to get it. Any hiding spot that’s right next to the front door is going to be the first place someone checks. Consider swapping out hiding spots with a trustworthy neighbor; their key is hidden on your property, while yours is on theirs.
- If you’re inviting a stranger into your home, make sure you’re not alone. This includes when you’re showing your home for sale, selling a piece of furniture on Craigslist, or having a new neighbor over for coffee. If you can’t get someone you know to be present, try meeting outdoors or in a public place instead.
- Don’t reveal personal information. If you get an email from “your bank” or “the IRS” asking you to confirm personal details, don’t answer. Visit the actual website of the institution in question (not the site in the link provided) and call them yourself to ask whether you are being scammed.
- Manage your privacy settings on social media. If you post photos from your European vacation for everyone to see on Instagram, that’s a heads up to thieves that your home is likely to be vacant for an extended period of time. Similarly, those cute photos of your children are easily stolen by those who deal in child pornography, even if they were never intended to be “sexy” photos. Lock down your privacy settings and when in doubt, don’t post.
Safety out and about:
- Whenever possible, stay with a buddy. That can mean walking out to the parking lot together with a coworker, finding an early morning running partner, or making a regular date with the neighbor to walk your dogs together when it gets dark.
- Consider carrying a personal alarm. They make a lot of noise and attract attention, but there’s no risk of accidentally hurting yourself and others with it.
- If you carry a bag, keep it both close and closed. Those open-ended totes are cute, but they’re incredibly easy to reach right inside of when you’re not paying attention.
- Make sure you always have the ability to get home. That can mean enough gas in your car, bus fare in your pocket, or the phone number of a taxi service and the means to pay for it.
- Keep your phone handy to report suspicious behavior when you see it. This not only keeps you safe in an emergency situation, it also makes your neighborhood safer on the whole. Downloading an app such as Torch means you can report suspicious activity while walking down the street or waiting for a train without calling any attention to yourself. It looks just like sending a text message or looking at Facebook.