Safety and Security Tips for Everyday Life

PSPA provides the following Safety and Security Tips for Everyday Life as a Seasonal and Holiday reference:


  • Effectively illuminate residential structures, outbuildings, and perimeter grounds.
  • Effectively illuminate pedestrian and vehicular entrances.
  • Conduct maintence and landscaping to ensure acceptable curb appeal.
  • Play music or television so your residence looks and sounds occupied.
  • Maintain effective locks on all doors and windows – and use them!
  • Secure your residence and entrance areas while at home and away.
  • Consider a wide-angle door viewer and/or camera on all applicable exterior doors.
  • Refrain from using full names on mailboxes, directories, and answering machines.
  • Refrain from hiding keys in easily accessible areas.
  • Confirm who is at the door before opening the door, and do not open the door to unexpected visitor(s). Refrain from allowing strangers into your residence.
  • Be aware that criminals can pose as couriers and service workers. It is common for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people (especially during the holiday season) by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes although no charity is involved. Ask for the solicitor’s identification, and find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate.
  • Ask for photo identification of all repair persons. If you are suspicious, call to verify employment or simply call the Police.
  • Refrain from providing personal information to solicitors.
  • Be suspicious of unknown person(s) loitering in the area of your residence.
  • Know which of your neighbors you can trust and depend upon in an emergency.
  • When leaving your residence for an extended period of time, engage a trusted party to watch your property and manage newspapers, parcels, mail, and applicable tasks.
  • Refrain from displaying valuables and holiday gifts in areas visible from outdoors through windows and doors.
  • Ensure Christmas trees are mounted on a sturdy base to reduce the risk of accident and/or injury to children, elderly and family pets. Place live trees in water or wet sand to reduce drying and the potential of catching fire. When using lights, ensure wiring is not damaged or frayed.
  • Refrain from burning wrapping paper and related materials in a fireplace.
  • Consider investing in residential insurance.
  • Consider investing in a residential security system.
  • Always report to the police suspicious people and/or activities.



  • Refrain from leaving valuables unattended. Many thefts are categorized as thefts of opportunity; so do not leave your identification, wallet, purse, keys, electronic devices, or other valuables in open view. If you must leave valuables in your work area, lock the items in a secure locker or desk.
  • Ensure reception areas are arranged so it is difficult for people to access inner office areas without first passing by the receptionist. Require staff members to come to the reception area to escort visitors to the proper destination. Refrain from allowing visitors to wander unescorted.
  • Take ownership of your work area. If you detect unknown person(s) within your work area, ask them who they are looking for, or if you can help them. Never assume a stranger wandering around is a staff member or invited guest. Challenge him/her with:  Can I help you? If you do not like the response you get, immediately notify Office Management, Building Management, Building Security, and/or Police as per your office procedure.
  • Refrain from allowing the removal of office property/equipment without first confirming the approval of such.


  • Lock and secure office door(s) before you leave.
  • If your area contains expensive equipment or valuable information, consider the strength of the door against being forced open. Additional door security hardware reduces the risk of forced entry.
  • Refrain from posting vacation times or itineraries on common area doors.


  • Always keep your windows locked when absent.
  • Use window curtains or blinds to conceal the contents. If possible, move valuables to a less visible location.
  • Easily accessible windows create an additional security risk. Consider enhancing your window security by installing additional physical protection such as security film, shades, blinds, or bars.

Locks and Keys

  • Deadbolt locks offer good protection.
  • Do not lend keys or leave keys where they can be stolen or duplicated.
  • Immediately report all lost or stolen keys as per procedure.
  • Facility representatives must keep a record of key distribution. Key duplication should be kept to a minimum. If a large number of duplicate keys need to be issued, consider alternatives such as a card reader system.
  • If you move to a new area, have a change in staff or lose keys, consider having the area re-keyed.


  • Store cash in a safe or locked compartment.
  • Prevent people from easily observing where money is stored or accessed.
  • Memorize the combination of the safe. If you write it down as a back-up, secure the combination in a separate location.
  • If your cash box is secured with a key, store the key in a secured location. Always lock up and take the key with you when leaving the area.


  • Avoid entering an elevator that is occupied by suspicious individuals or only one other person who is suspicious or simply a stranger.
  • In an elevator, stand near the controls and locate the emergency button.
  • If you are assaulted while in an elevator, hit the emergency or alarm button and press as many floor buttons as possible.


  • Do not leave personal property unattended, even for a minute. Backpacks, laptops, and portable electronic devices are favorites for thieves.
  • Keep your personal property in view at all times. Thieves need only a few seconds of your inattention or distraction.

Athletic Facilities

  • Secure all personal property in a locker.
  • Invest in a good quality lock.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money or valuables with you to the facility.
  • Report suspicious people hanging around the locker room to the appropriate parties.

After Regular Business Hours

  • Do not let strangers into the facility. Remember, as an access card or key holder, you are responsible not only for your own safety, but also the safety of your co-workers. Ask others to use their own key or access card. If you do not like the response you get, notify Security and/or Police immediately.
  • Never prop open exterior doors to secure buildings. If you find a door that is propped open, remove the obstruction and report your findings to facility management.
  • Avoid isolated corridors or hallways.
  • Be extra careful in stairwells and isolated or poorly lighted restrooms.
  • When entering a room, if you sense something wrong, back off. Return to safety and call for assistance and/or the police.


  • Never hitchhike. It’s not worth the risk!
  • When using an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) choose one located in a safe location such as in a bank or well established business. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need. Safeguard your PIN Number by shielding the ATM Keypad from onlookers. Do not discard your ATM Receipt at the ATM location.
  • Refrain from overloading yourself with packages or other items. Keep your hands as free as possible.
  • Refrain from wearing excessively loud headphones while walking or jogging.
  • Refrain from reading or being distracted while walking or standing in public.
  • If you carry a purse, carry it close to your body, preferable in front. Carry no more money or credit cards than you absolutely need.
  • If you wear a purse with a shoulder strap, be prepared to let go if snatched. Otherwise you could fall prey to an injury.
  • Avoid being in public if you are upset or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Know your surroundings and always report illegal activities and/or suspicious activity.
  • Study your neighborhood to best understand your surroundings.  
  • Remain aware of your surroundings, whether alone or with a companion. Utilize your senses; look and listen for people, footsteps, and voices and act appropriately.
  • Be aware that your shoes and clothing may hinder an escape. Think of what to do in case of an attack (e.g. kick off high-heeled shoes).
  • Avoid traveling alone when possible and avoid “shortcuts” in unfamiliar areas.



  • Ensure vehicles are safe, and legal to operate prior to driving.
  • Comply with the law and applicable safety restraint requirements.
  • Never operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Maintain adequate fuel levels, fluid levels, and operating parameters.
  • Avoid driving alone or at night when possible.
  • If you are driving in unfamiliar areas, pre-plan your trip.
  • Keep vehicle doors locked when driving. Adjust windows as appropriate considering both comfort and safety.
  • When stopped at traffic lights or driving in slow moving traffic, allow space between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can readily retreat if necessary.
  • Refrain from opening doors and/or windows if unknown person(s) approaches your vehicle to ask questions or directions.
  • If unknown person(s) approaches your vehicle and attempts to enter your vehicle, blow your horn to attract attention and carefully drive away.
  • Do not engage or pick-up hitchhikers!
  • Do not leave house keys attached to vehicle key rings left with service stations or parking facilities.
  • Do not stop for a stranded motorist. Instead, call the police for assistance.
  • If you have a flat tire, drive on it until you reach a safe, well-lit, and well-traveled area.
  • If your vehicle becomes disabled and help is not immediately available, raise the hood of the vehicle (if you can safely do so), and then stay in the vehicle with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. Activate your hazard or parking lights. If someone stops to assist you, ask him or her through the closed window to call the police.
  • If you are being followed, don’t drive home. Proceed to the nearest police or fire station and honk your horn or alternatively seek safety at an open business and call the police.
  • Utilize anti-theft devices as appropriate.
  • Park in safe, well-illuminated areas as close to your destination as possible. Refrain from parking next to vans, trucks, and large vehicles especially those with tinted windows. Additionally refrain from parking next to large objects and/or obstructions that can be used as staging areas for criminal activity.
  • Never leave your vehicle unoccupied with the motor running or with children/pets inside.
  • Never leave packages or valuables in open view.
  • Prior to returning to your parked vehicle, have keys in hand, while visually inspecting the route to your vehicle and the area surrounding your vehicle for signs of suspicious and/or illegal activity. If you observe such, immediately seek safety and call the police.
  • It is a good idea to carry in your vehicle: a flashlight, fix-a-flat, maps, cellular phone, comfortable warm clothing, a portable fire extinguisher, and first aid kit, to name just a few.

Public Transportation

  • Beware of open conversations. Do not discuss with strangers on a bus, subway or any public transportation your travel plans or personal information.
  • Stay awake and alert.
  • Have exact change or payment ready.
  • Sit as close to the driver as possible.
  • If you sense someone is following you when you get off, walk toward other people or to an open business.


  • Refrain from leaving a laptop computer, tablet, or cellular device in an unlocked office or in plain view inside an automobile. Refrain from leaving electronic devices unattended even for a few minutes!
  • Refrain from placing electronic devices near exterior windows where they can be easily viewed and subjected to theft.
  • Consider investing in a locking and tracking device.
  • If you must leave equipment in an automobile, use the trunk. In sport utility vehicles, station wagons and vans safeguard devices by hiding property out of sight.
  • Use an inconspicuous carrying case for storing and transporting electronics.
  • Record identification numbers and maintain records it in a safe place.
  • Consider investing in personal property insurance.


  • Shop during daylight hours when possible. If you prefer shopping at night, do so with a friend, cohort, or family member.
  • Dress casually and comfortably.
  • Refrain from carrying a purse or wallet. Each are targets of criminals in shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other forms of mass transit.
  • Refrain from carrying large amounts of cash.
  • Refrain from wearing expensive or flashy jewelry.
  • Carry your Driver’s License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks, and/or applicable credit cards in a front pocket.
  • Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
  • Notify the credit card issuer or financial institution immediately if your credit card or bank card/checks are lost, stolen, or misused.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.

SHOPPING TIPS (when accompanied by children)

  • If possible, leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter.
  • Teach children to stay close to you at all times while shopping.
  • Disallow children from making unaccompanied trips to the restroom.
  • Disallow children from going back to a parked vehicle without an escort.
  • Teach children to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case they become lost or separated from you.
  • Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police or security in the event of an emergency.
  • Teach children to recognize suspicious behavior and immediately inform you of such.

As a Rule-of-Thumb, never delay in summoning the Police if you suspect suspicious and/or criminal activity.

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