Personal Safety for the Holidays
Personal safety is important every day. As a Realtor, I have been trained to be constantly aware of my surroundings as well as some small tips to use when showing a house, holding an open house or going to a listing appointment. As the holidays approach, we are all likely to be in situations and locations where personal safety is even more important. I asked my personal trainer, Mark Simons, to write an article to help us all stay aware and, hopefully, safe during this time of year.
Nothing messes up a Christmas celebration more than getting mugged in the mall parking lot. Hard to argue with that statement. In the law enforcement world, officers are trained constantly in the arena of use of force. But it’s not just using force to effect an arrest. Often officers are attacked without provocation. In their world it’s called a sudden assault.
Now these assaults can seemingly come out of right field. But over the years, officers have picked up nonverbal cues that can predict a possible assault. They have a list of cues that they train to look for from offenders. Let’s look at a few of those and see if we can apply them to our lives and hopefully avoid being mugged in the mall.
When we are getting that funny feeling in our gut that someone is thinking about harming us, we often want to dismiss it. Don’t! Here are some names to those queasy feelings swirling around in our tummy: We refer to them as Threat Assessments:
Watch for these Pre-Attack Postures
- Hand set
- Shoulder shift
- 1000 yard stare
- Target Glance
- Boxer Stance
Let’s look at each one and briefly break them down.
Hand set. When someone raises their hands above their waist in a manner that seems out of the norm, or as my kids say, random. Take note.
Shoulder shift. The act of twisting your upper body so as to place it with your shoulder towards you as as opposed to being more forward facing or squared off.
1000 yard stare. That creepy, “I’m looking through you” look. It could mean they are about to pounce and anything you say may be falling on deaf ears, much like when I ask for chores to be completed by my teens.
Target glance. Police are sketchy if the person they are encountering glances at their holstered firearm. In training class I loved to mess with them and do this. They were quick to step back and express their concern. Same for us. If someone is about to strike us, unless they are highly trained, they will most likely give it away by glancing at said target. Beware.
Boxer stance. Think of when people are intoxicated and they have “beer muscles.” When they want to fight they will “put up their dukes.” Hands are up, fists being made, shoulder shift in place, maybe even bending their knees. If you were forward thinking enough to own a Taser, now would be the time to deploy it.
Be relaxed, but alert. Look around at people, not just the pretty ones. Take note of any that creep you out. Most sudden assaults happen because we are distracted. Perhaps with texting, being on a call, or just having our head in the sand.
If you hone in on that one person who may be smoking next to your car for instance, have a preplanned response, both verbal and physical. You want to be assertive, not passive and not aggressive. Not yet, that is. Focus on them. Make eye contact. Let them know there will be no sneak attack on you this day.
Lastly, if said smoker wants to get in your personal space be prepared to use stern verbalization coupled with a physical alternative. If they reach out to grab or assault you, be determined to fight and strike back. Those who are willing to use force, are less likely to need it. You set off a signal to them that if they “mess with the bull they are going to get the horns.” This must be true because I have never been attacked by a smoker in the mall parking lot!
To wrap this up, many people think that when it hits the fan they will rise to the occasion. In fact, you will actually sink to the level of your training. If no forethought has been put in, you will most likely freeze and be a submitted victim. Or, you will over react, and destroy some poor soul who was innocently asking for directions to give a donation to the Salvation Army bell ringer. Training is the key. The more realistic, the better your survival. Take it seriously, be safe and Merry Christmas!
Mark Simons spent 30 yrs a a police officer. He was on the SWAT team, and was a certified instructor in firearms, Use of force, Taser, and pepper spray. He now is a certified personal trainer and self defense instructor for civilians. You can reach him at 615-519-1712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of mrpuen and Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net
Michelle Froedge is a residential Realtor and Principal Broker in the Greater Nashville and Williamson County areas of Tennessee. “Mom” to four-legged fur babies, Tyler and Livvie, Auntie to Zelamie, she is a vegetarian and sings in her spare time. Michelle has lived in Nashville and Franklin since 1997 and has been selling homes since 2004.