Category Archives: Safety Tips

Keeping Warm This Winter

When I woke up this morning it was 29 degrees outside my front door. A bit too cold to snow, thank goodness, but darn cold nonetheless. Despite my intense dislike of winter, it’s here to stay for a few months.  While, I’m desperately hoping otherwise, I fully expect to get slammed with a snow storm or two in the coming months.

With recent occurrence of Sandy, I started wondering about my preparedness for other types of inclement weather, in particular snow storms. To that end I found myself on Ready.gov, a FEMA website that gives you information about dealing with all manner of extreme weather.  Here’s just a little bit of what I found about being ready to deal winter storms and extreme cold.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

  • Before winter approaches,put together emergency kits for both your car and house. You can visit Ready.gov for details on what to include in both kits.
  • Make a Communication Plan. If your family isn’t together at the time of the storm make sure you all know how to contact on another and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen check your  local news channels forl information from the National Weather Service. Stay up to date on changing weather conditions.
  • Travel only if necessary and  keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle. Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. (They may have fur coats but they need warmth just like us please bring them inside during the winter months.)
  • If you must go outside during a storm, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
    • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
    • Wear a hat. A hat will prevent loss of body heat.
    • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

Should you get stranded in your car in a storm:

  • Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
  • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
  • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a  window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
  • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
  • Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
  • Leave the car and proceed on foot – if necessary – once the blizzard passes.

Stay safe and warm out there this winter.

~Rayna

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Hurricane Sandy Storm Safety

Hurricane SandyWith Hurricane Sandy barreling down on us, I thought I’d keep today’s post short and sweet. No one can say what havoc Sandy is going to bring, but in an effort to ride out this storm as safely and comfortably as possible, here a a few preparedness tips.

 

  • Have enough water for each person in the house for 3 days. Best estimate is one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Have a three day supply of non-perishable foods.
  • Have enough pet care supplies for three days
  • Have flashlights and batteries for them
  • Have a battery operated radio
  • Have  first aid kit
  • Have emergency blankets

During the storm:

  • Go to an interior room and stay away from windows and doors even if they’re covered
  • Don’t go outside including when the eye of the storm is passing.

For additional hurricane preparedness and safety tips or to prepare for any other type of storm, you can visit the American Red Cross’s Disaster and Safety Library.

Hang in there all. Sandy is going to give us a heck of a bumpy ride.  So stay safe and dry.

~Rayna

Stop Cyberbullying

The internet can be a wonderful place to find information, but it can also be a nasty place as people (kids and adults) find it much easier to spew their venom from behind a computer screen. Just read a few YouTube comments on any video and you’ll see what I mean. As our kids are connected to the internet at earlier ages, it seems to me cyberbullying is becoming more and more rampant. My daughter’s school recently sent home some safety tips on Cyberbullying that I wanted to pass on you. The information comes from the Connect Safely website. Please share this information with your children, as cyberbullying can be very hurtful and very serious. For more information about Connect Safely, visit their website at www.connectsafely.org.

Tips To Help Stop Cyberbullying

Here are some tips if you or someone you know is being bullied – and advice for ending (or preventing) the cycle of aggression.

Don’t respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants. It gives him or her power over you. Who wants to empower a bully?

Don’t retaliate. Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully’s behavior. Help avoid a whole cycle of aggression.

Save the evidence. The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. Save evidence even if it’s minor stuff – in case things escalate.

Block the bully. If the harassment’s coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favor: Use preferences or privacy tools to block the person. If it’s in chat, leave the “room.” This may not end the problem, but you don’t need harassment in your face all the time, and no reaction sometimes makes aggressors bored so they’ll stop.

Reach out for help. You deserve backup. Of course you know there are different kinds of help, from talking with a friend to seeing if there’s a trusted adult who can help. It’s usually good to involve a parent but – if you can’t – a school counselor can sometimes be helpful. If you’re really nervous about saying something, see if there’s a way to report the incident anonymously at school. Sometimes this can result in bullies getting the help they need to change their behavior.

Use reporting tools. If the bullying took place via a social network, use that service’s reporting or “abuse” tools. The social network may also have “social abuse-reporting” tools, which allow you to forward hurtful content to a trusted friend or directly ask someone to take offensive content down. If the abuse threatens physical harm, you may have to call the police, but think about involving a parent if you do.

Be civil. You’re doing yourself a favor. Even if you don’t like a person, it’s a good idea to be decent and not sink to his or her level. Research shows that gossiping about and “trash talking” others increase your risk of being bullied.

Don’t be a bully. You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone’s shoes; even a few seconds of thinking about how another person might feel can put a big damper on aggression. That’s needed in this world.

Be a friend, not a bystander. Forwarding mean messages or just standing by and doing nothing empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop, or let them know bullying is not cool – it’s cruel abuse of fellow human beings. If you can’t stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behavior.

Please contact admin@connectsafely.org for permission to reprint or post.

Stay Safe on and off the internet!

~K.M. Fawcett

Tips for Conference Goers

It’s conference season, at least that’s how it seems. Between March and August there are quite a few writing conferences that are taking place, so now seemed liked a great time to offer a few helpful tips to make all your conferences fun and successful.

  • Have business cards at the ready.  They don’t need to be elaborate, just something simple with your name and contact information on it.  You can make them yourself or get them printed inexpensively at places like GotPrint.com or VistaPrint.com.
  • Dress professionally and comfortably. Consider wearing layers.  There is no happy medium when it comes to temperature at many of these conference sites. The best thing you can do is to have layers so that you’ll always be able to make yourself comfortable.
  • Don’t be afraid to mingle and make connections, but be sure to pay attention to social cues. You don’t want to accidentally cut in on an important discussion.
  • Even if you aren’t taking an editor/agent appointment have a pitch for your current work in progress ready to go. You never know whom you’ll wind up chatting with and what can come from that interaction. Remember editors and agents are people too. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true.
  • Be mindful of your alcohol consumption.
  • Most importantly, enjoy yourself and let your creative juices be replenished by interacting with other writers.

Navigating your way around the conference is only part of the adventure. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe en route to the conference and while staying in the event hotel.

  • If possible travel with at least one travel companion.
  • Never tell anyone that you are traveling alone. If someone persistently asks, don’t hesitate to lie.
  • If attending a conference do not wear your name badge when you leave the event hotel.
  • Wear minimal jewelry. Lots of expensive and flashy jewelry makes you an easier target for predators. Also, consider using disposable cameras instead of bringing your digital camera. Expensive cameras are popular targets for thieves.
  • Never open up your door to any stranger and use all the locks on the door while in room.
  • Don’t open the door just because someone says security or maintenance.  Get the employee’s name and call the front desk to confirm before opening the door.
  • Avoid giving out your room number to anyone you meet in the bar or the trip.
  • Avoid leaving jewelry or credit cards in the room. Thieved don’t need the actual card, just the number and security code.
  • Lock your baggage if possible. (Airline locks are fine)
  • Avoid the scam this is the front desk calling please update your credit card information.
  • Never leave the plastic keys when you checkout. They can contain personal information.
  • If possible request a room closest to the elevators, more foot traffic, less secluded, more opportunity for crook to be seen
  • Try to avoid a room above the 10th floor; fire equipment usually does not reach that high.
  • Avoid going out alone at night and as always TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!!

If you’ll be at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference in March I look forward to seeing you there. Whatever conferences you may be attending stay safe and have a great time.

~Rayna

Scream And Shout

Pacific Ocean 2010

In Monday’s post, we discussed that the goal of self-defense is not to win, but to not lose. If you haven’t read the post and are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, click here.

In the comments, someone had shared her story of being attacked years ago and being so stunned at the viciousness, she couldn’t fight back. All she could do was scream. She kept screaming as he punched her in the face. She kept screaming as he yelled at her to shut-up. And because she kept screaming, he feared she’d gain attention from the on-coming cars and he ran off. In other words, she did fight back…using her voice.

When we think about self-defense, we tend to think about blocking and striking. But as we discussed in past blogs, self-defense is also about using our brains (common sense is the first step to self-defense) and heeding the warning of the little voice whispering inside us when something doesn’t feel right. Self-defense is also about using our VOICE. Screaming to gain attention from someone who can intervene or call the police is as important as striking our attacker. Remember, he does not want to get caught.

Our voice is so important to self-defense that we even have a name for it.

Kiai (Kee-eye). It’s a spirit shout. And it has a few purposes:

  1. It helps draw attention to our situation.
  2. It can scare our attacker.
  3. It tightens our muscles to prepare us to take a hit.
  4. And it fires us up. (Don’t athlete’s do this before games? “Come on!”  “We got this!”  “Go [insert team name here]!” Of course they do.

You might recognize a kiai as the “hiya” from old karate movies. However, it can be any word or sound that you want to make. Swearing a string of profanities at your attacker counts. Or shouting, “Fire!” or maybe for a child, teaching them to scream, “Stranger, stranger, 911!”

It doesn’t matter what sound you make. Just make some noise. Even if it’s a high pitch girly scream (which I admit I do when someone scares me. Yes they laugh, but I can’t help the sound. I call it my auto-response kiai.)

Like singers train their voices or drill instructors train theirs, martial artist also train their kiai. Usually a new person in the dojo has trouble making any sound at first. Perhaps they feel silly or self-conscious, but after a few weeks they are shouting with enthusiasm and much spirit.

What sound you make isn’t as important as using your voice to fight back.

~KM Fawcett

Personal Safety Review

I write romantic suspense, books where my heroines are always targeted by someone with malicious intent. Here at Attacking the Page, we’ve done a number of blogs on personal safety, but we haven’t posted some of this information in a while. There are detailed posts in our archives, but I’ve listed some quick tips below to start you thinking about what you can do to stay safe.

  1. Be a hard target – pay attention to your surroundings. Avoid talking on your cell, texting, and/or wearing headphones when you should be aware, i.e. running or walking across a parking lot.
  2. Park close to buildings, in well-lit areas. Pay special attention if the vehicle next to yours is occupied or if a van or other vehicle you can’t see into is parked next to yours.
  3. People principle – stay with a group for safety, or if you’re in trouble, seek people out. Isolation makes you more vulnerable. Don’t run or walk alone.
  4. Carry a cell phone and keep it charged.
  5. Protect your personal space – if someone makes you uncomfortable, let him know his behavior is unacceptable. He may be “feeling you out” to see if you’re an easy target.
  6. Take a self-defense class. They’ll teach you even more ways to stay safe. Plus, Bureau of Justice statistics show that 50% of attackers will break off the attack if the woman indicates she will fight back. If she goes with her attacker to a secondary location, 90% of the time, she isn’t coming back.
  7. If you’re a woman alone, you can’t always be a Good Samaritan. Don’t stop for someone who appears to be having car trouble. Instead use your cell phone to call the police and report their situation. Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy took advantage of women who wanted to help others. One of his best ploys was to feign injury and ask for nice young women for help.
  8. When out with girlfriends, make a pact to go together and stay together. Honor that pact. Do not let a friend leave the group. Date rape drugs are easy to get, tasteless, odorless, and becoming increasingly more common. Only drink beverages that you opened yourself or watched the bartender pour. Do not accept drinks from strangers and take a friend to the hospital if you suspect she has been drugged. Date rape drugs can be made at home from drain cleaner. Any guy who gives them to a woman doesn’t care if she is alive or dead when he rapes her.
  9. Whistles, personal alarms and pepper spray make good sense. Panic can make some people unable to scream.
  10. When booking a hotel, use initials or Mr. & Mrs. Do not give anyone your room number. Do not stay in a room without a peep hole and security bar. Don’t take anyone’s word that they are a hotel employee. Call the desk and check before opening the door.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it should get you thinking. Your brain is the most important weapon at your disposal. Above all, trust your instincts. If you feel like someone is a problem, he likely is. If a situation is making you uncomfortable, get out of it. This feeling isn’t your imagination. It’s your primitive survival instinct kicking in. I would much rather feel silly asking a security guard to escort me to my car than be attacked in the parking lot.

Stay safe!

So You Think You Know How To Party?

Back to school is a great time for partying with friends. It’s also a great time for a safety reminder. The following tips on How to Party Safely have been posted on this blog in April of 2010. These tips are for anyone at any age, and can’t be repeated enough.

When going out to a party, club or bar, make a plan and stick to it. If for some reason things change during the night, have a back up plan.

PLAN A: There is usually safety in numbers, so go with a group of friends you trust, stay together and leave together. Don’t leave or let your girlfriends leave with a stranger. Be sure you have a designated driver. If you decide to stay out later, leave earlier or realize your designated driver has been drinking, go to PLAN B: call someone you trust to come get you or call a taxi. Always take a charged cell phone with you and money for cab fare.

PLAN A: Don’t share personal information (phone numbers, business cards) with strangers. If you really like the guy and want to talk again, go to PLAN B: Get his number instead.

PLAN A: Stay with friends and make sure they stay with you. Don’t wander off alone even if you need to find a quiet place to make a phone call. Buddy up when going to the restroom. If you get separated from your friends and a stranger starts bothering you, go to PLAN B: find help from someone you trust or an employee at the bar. If you can’t get away or he refuses to stop harassing you, implement PLAN C:

DEFEND YOURSELF!

PLAN A: Know how much you’re going to drink before going out. If you are going through your drinks faster than you anticipated, try PLAN B: Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. No one needs to know your second and fourth vodka and tonics are only tonics. Or that you filled up your beer bottle with water.

PLAN A: Drink only from bottles or cans you have opened or have watched the bartender pour. Don’t accept drinks that are in punch bowls or other open containers. Never accept drinks from strangers or people you don’t absolutely trust with your life. If you didn’t see what went into your glass, assume anything can be in it. Your nonalcoholic drink could be spiked with alcohol. Your alcoholic drink could be laced with drugs. And consider this, even if it isn’t drugged, the guy buying you a drink may think you now owe him something in return.

PLAN B: Get help immediately from someone you trust with your life if…

  • Your drink tastes bitter, is unusually salty, has a strange color, odor or has foam or residue on the surface. Makers of Rohypnol (“roofies”) changed the formula so when dissolved in liquid, the pill produces a blueish-green dye. Clear drinks turn blue, beer turns green and dark drinks turn murky. BE AWARE however, that many date rape drugs are colorless, odorless, tasteless and can dissolve quickly in liquid.
  • You begin to feel usually drunk for the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed
  • You feel dizzy, nauseous, drowsy, “out of it,” or hallucinate
  • Your girlfriend acts in the above manner. (Remember you’ve already made a buddy plan to watch out for each other!)

You or she may have been drugged and may only be alert for a moment longer.

PLAN A: Don’t leave your drink unattended. If you leave to go to the restroom, the dance floor or to make a phone call, then (PLAN B) throw out that drink when you return. You can always buy yourself another one.

Party Smart and Stay Safe!

~KM Fawcett

Talk A Walk On The Safe Side

Photo Courtesy of Flickr and Nick Harris1

As the weather turns warmer (at least for some parts of the country. I’m still waiting for Spring in NJ), more people will be heading out doors.  Here are some safety tips on walking from certified women’s self-defense instructor, Kathleen Kuck.


-Avoid walking and talking/texting on a cell phone when in public.

-Back up to a wall if you must take a call.

-Always carry a cell phone for emergencies.

-Avoid ear buds or headphones while walking or jogging in public.

-Walk with a purpose. Head up, look around.  Eyes forward.

-Avoid walking/jogging/running alone whenever possible.

-Stay on paths that have people and traffic.

-Avoid shortcuts through alleys, fields, wooded areas, and secluded locations.

-Keep a grip on purse if over a shoulder.

-It is harder to escape if wearing heels.  Avoid scarves or long thick necklaces.

-Keep hands as free as possible.

-If attacked, don’t let anyone take you away to a secondary location. Your chance of returning are slim to nonexistent.  Fight back right where you are.

-Walk against traffic.

-Avoid walking next to bushes, walls, fences.  Anywhere a bad guy can hide.

-Take corners wide.  Same reason as above.

-Carry pepper spray if possible.

-If you don’t like pepper spray carry a personal alarm.  They cost very little money.

-A walking/hiking stick may also do the trick.

-Walking with a dog is also a great deterrent.

-Don’t walk up to a car if asked for directions or the time.

-If something goes wrong RUN RUN RUN to where people are; a store, a business, a group of people in the park.

-Make noise.  Suspects do not want witnesses and are looking for speed and ease.

-Keep as much distance as possible between you and a bad guy.

-If a friend is dropping you off, ask them to wait until you are safely inside the building.

-If you think you are being followed, change to the other side of the street.  Pick up your pace, start heading toward people, businesses, other people walking, etc.

-Try taking a few turns or pause inside of a business to see if you are being followed.

Thanks, Kathleen, for the great tips. If anyone has another, please share it in the comments section. If you don’t have a tip, then tell me your favorite place to walk. My favorite place is hiking in the woods.  🙂

Stay Safe!

~K.M. Fawcett

Parking Lot Safety

The following parking lot safety tips are courtesy of firearms expert and instructor Kathleen Kuck.  You can see her last post “Handguns and Your Character” here.  Thank you for the safety tips Kathleen.  They are important to remember especially at this time of the year.  ~KM Fawcett

-Park as close to the doors of the business as possible.
-Park in well lit areas.
-Don’t leave expensive items in plain sight. Laptops, purse, wallet, GPS, cell phone, etc.
-Don’t leave your cigarette lighter open, close the cap or put the cigarette lighter in it. If left open it could be a sign of electronic devices (Ipod, GPS) things that crooks want
-Don’t leave docking stations or cables in plain sight.
-If possible have your valuables hidden or in trunk before you reach destination, so you are not seen putting them away.
-Ask security to walk you out if you feel uncomfortable.
-Hold multiple items (shopping bags, etc) in your week hand, always have strong hand free.
-Use caution if the vehicle next to yours is occupied.
-Pay attention if a van or other vehicle you can’t see into is parked next to yours.
-Watch for people loitering in the parking lot.
-Have your keys in your hand before you get to your car.
-Look around to make sure no one is in the area looking suspicious.
-Don’t be on the phone or texting.
-Walk with a purpose and your head up. Look attentive.
-If it doesn’t feel right walk past your car and go back into the business.
-On approaching your vehicle see the reflection in your vehicle windows, pay attention to see if anyone is coming up behind you.
-Lock your doors immediately upon entering your car.
-Take a look to see if the car is secure before you enter it. Look in backseat.
-Most camper shells are not uniquely keyed so there is a good chance the key to yours will open the camper shell next to yours. You might even have a CH751 key for your camper shell…this CH751 key opens most t-handles, camper shells, landscaping controls, light timers, car top carriers, truck bed type tool boxes, equipment locks, and starts golf carts, which means crooks also have it.
-SUV’s & trucks have no trunk and thief’s look under seats, glove boxes center consoles.
-Don’t leave your mail in the car. This can lead to identity theft.
-Don’t leave your checkbook in the car.
-Only carry the electronics and valuables you will need.
-A device like a Nanovault 100, 200 or 300 tethered to the seat post and under the seat hidden might help for small items like Ipods or GPS devices.

Safety Tip of the Week: Holiday Shopping

The holidays are a wonderful time, but criminals often take advantage of harried shoppers.  Here are some tips to help you stay safe when shopping this holiday season.

Just the rest of the year, be aware of you surroundings. Shop with a friend, if possible.  And try to shop in daylight hours.  Also try to avoid the malls during the busiest times.  Weekdays are less crowded than evenings or weekends.

Don’t be distracted by your cell phone or a great sale. Pickpockets love the holiday rush.  Make sure you can manage all your packages.  Put your wallet in your front pants pocket and/or carry your purse close to your body.  Try not to use the hook in the restroom stall or set your purse down anywhere while you shop.

Don’t carry much cash.  Remember, credit cards can be cancelled if stolen, but be wary of carbon copies of credit slips.  Carry only one or two cards at a time and use your credit card company’s online service to keep daily track of purchases.  Make sure all the charges on your bill are legitimate.  Keep a list of your cards and numbers at home in case you are robbed.  If you must use cash, don’t put it all in one place.  Put some in your purse, some in your front pockets, etc.  That way, if you are a victim of a pickpocket, he won’t clean you out in one shot.  Be careful to conceal the keypad if inputting the PIN for your debit card.

Remember where you parked.  Park in a well-lighted area, lock your car door, and stow packages in the trunk, out of sight. When walking in a parking lot, keep your keys in hand. Walk with confidence.  Don’t’ dawdle.  When approaching your vehicle, be wary of vehicles parked next to it, especially vans.  If there’s a van parked on the driver’s side, approach and enter your vehicle on the passenger side.  Check under and around the vehicle.  Before getting inside, check the interior.  Lock the door when inside.  If you feel uncomfortable, return to the store or mall.  If there’s a security guard available, ask for an escort to your car.

Happy holidays and stay safe!