Tag Archives: Safety Tips

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.


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

Man’s “Best Friend” Part 1 – Avoiding an Attack

While researching canine behavior for my work in progress, I came across some information on how to survive a dog attack.  This isn’t something I’ve given much thought to before even though I used to be a competitive runner and had a few come after me on the roads.  None did anything more than bark and give chase until I stopped and yelled at it to go home.  The one time I was bitten by a dog was in my friend’s home.  I think she (the dog) was jealous I spent too much time with her owner.  As he and I were walking out the door together, she chomped down on my calf.  I’m wincing, remembering the pain.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my suffering as more than 4 million people are bitten by dogs each year according to the Cellino & Barnes, Personal Injury Attorneys website. They state as many as one million people nationwide require medical treatment for dog bites every year.  More than 334,000 victims end up in the emergency room.  More than half of all the animal attack victims are children.

Below are some tips compiled from researching various sites to help you avoid a dog attack.  Feel free to share more tips in the comments section.

  • Don’t stare an aggressive dog in the eyes.  Eye contact to a dog may be seen as a threat or challenge.
  • Stay calm.  A dog may attack if it thinks you want to fight or thinks you are weak.
  • If you are jogging, stop and walk by the dog, avoiding eye contact and sudden movement.
  • Try commanding the dog to Sit, Stay or Go Home.
  • Keep your hands down at your sides and avoid making any sudden movements.
  • Don’t smile. Bared teeth may signify aggression to a dog.
  • Don’t turn your back on the dog. Canines often take that as a sign of weakness or an opening to attack.
  • Don’t run.  It will excite the dog to chase you.

Look for Man’s “Best Friend” Part II – Surviving an Attack in upcoming safety tips.

~KM Fawcett

Safety Tip: Walking to School

With school starting I thought I’d build on our previous tip about school bus safety and offer a few tips on being safe while walking to and from school.  The following tips come courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Make sure your child’s walk to a school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week to make sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.
  • In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider starting a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
  • Consider having an emergency phone number card printed and laminated that you child can carry in their backpack or or wallet. That way in case of emergency there are multiple people that your child can contact and not have to worry about forgetting a phone number.
If you have any other tips please share them we want everyone to have a safe and happy school year.
[tweetmeme source=”Rayna_Vause”]

Travel Safety pt 3

When traveling, particularly to large cities, at some point you’ll probably use a taxi or a shuttle to get you where you’re going. Here are just a few tips to consider when hailing a cab.

  • The buddy system is your friend. Try to avoid hailing/riding in a taxi when you are alone. When ever possible travel with a friends or relative.
  • Make arrangements in advance. Call a cab company and schedule a pick up. When the taxi arrives verify with the driver who they are there to pick up and ensure that he/she are from the taxi company that you called.
  • Being friendly and sharing a little light conversation with the driver is fine, but keep personal information to yourself. Don’t give out too much information about your plans or yourself.
  • Upon arriving ask the driver to wait for you to enter your destination if possible.
  • If you are uncomfortable or feel threatened have the driver let you out of the cab in a busy, familiar or popular place.
  • As always  Trust Your Instincts!

Travel Safely part 1

The kids are out of school. The days are long and hot. It’s vacation season, the perfect time to get away and explore new places. Whether your summer adventures take you a short distance from home or oceans away, here are a few tips to help you enjoy your travels safely.

  • If possible travel with at least one travel companion.
  • When traveling out of the country do your research and be aware of local customs, laws, etc.
  • Be mindful of your luggage at all times
  • Carry your money and personal objects in a bag or purse that you can hide under your clothes.
  • Use a business card as your luggage tag. Try not to use your home address.
  • 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.
  • Avoid going out alone at night and as always TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!!

Please share your thoughts and tips on having safe and fun summer vacations.