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10 safety mantras for those living alone
Juhi Dua |
July 27, 2006
I live alone in Mumbai city -- a single, working girl with her sights firmly set on her career. And, although living alone in a new city or town can be a challenging experience, it also means you need to be more careful about safety. These are the 10 rules I abide by to stay safe.
1. Keep personal information personal
Do not give out your mobile number or address to strangers. This thwarts unwanted visits or calls from people with dubious motives. Request to be de-listed from bank directories and club lists.
2. Answering the doorbell? Stay alert
A peephole is a must, as is a security chain attached to the door. Home deliveries should be attended to at the door, so keep your money ready before opening it. Apply the same rule to ALL strangers.
3. Observe your surroundings
When choosing a home to rent, make sure the path to your home is well lit. Report non-functional streetlights in your society and ensure that fused bulbs in your building are replaced instantly. Dark places can encourage crime, so watch out.
4. Be an alert traveller
I never wear headphones while travelling late; it cuts me off from the outside world and may give the impression that I am not alert, making me seem vulnerable.
If you are using public transport, avoid discussing personal details on the phone. Be watchful about being followed and take a self-defence course if possible. While driving alone, lock yourself up in the car and don't ever give lifts to strangers. Bipin Doshi, an executive producer with Sahara One who often travels late, has a useful tip: "Don't let the cab driver take a 'shortcut' through unknown lanes and be more careful if he has been chatty along the way."
Ruchika Agarwal, an art director who has been living in Mumbai on her own says, "I never share taxis with strangers at night and always keep my cell phone charged while on the move. I also carry pepper spray. I may sound paranoid, but I don't there's anything wrong with being concerned for your safety."
If a situation arises, remember � the eyes are the most vulnerable part of the body, so attack a predator there. The neck and knees are the next two sensitive areas. You may be weaker than your predator but, if you make some smart moves, you can escape.
5. Keep friends, colleagues and family informed
Make sure they all have your home address. Keep a friend's number on speed dial. If possible, alert one or two friends about your late night schedule so they can raise an alarm if they can't reach you for a while. If you are travelling out of town, keep your family and friends informed, and call them when you get back.
6. Secure your home
Make sure to lock your door before stepping out, even if it is for just five minutes. Get a good branded lock and fix new ones when moving into a new place (with the permission of the landlord, of course). This will ensure that previous tenants can't sneak in.
7. Be careful with your keys
Keep car and house keys separate. I make it a point never to give my bunched house and car keys to valet parking attendants at clubs. These keys can easily be duplicated, while your address can be obtained from your car's licence plate. Also, while duplicating your house keys, stand and get it done yourself instead of coming back to pick it up later. Ensure the key-maker is not making two sets. Do not hide keys under the doormat, over the ledge of the door or in the garden, and never leave them with security guards at your housing society.
8. Hiring house help?
When you move into a new place, do not hire the first maid who walks into your house or one willing to charge the least money. Talk to the neighbours if possible. Hiring a maid referred by a trusted neighbour could be your best bet. It is also a good idea to register her details with the nearest police station.
9. If you get locked out�
Keep a duplicate set of keys with a friend who lives nearby. You could also keep a pair in your office drawer, which must be kept locked. If your landlord lives nearby, you can borrow his or her copy for an emergency, but that means you need his or her number on your cell phone.
10. Going out of town?
Shut all windows and doors, switch off all lights and electrical appliances. You could consider keeping the lights at the entrance on, to illuminate possible hiding places around your house. Avoid leaving keys behind with neighbours not well known to you. The bottom line is, be smart and you stay safe!
Illustration: Dominic Xavier
Do you live alone? Share YOUR safety and lifestyle mantras.