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Car Safety Tips – It’s About More than Locking Your Doors!

I was making a visit late in the afternoon in a neighborhood that had a history of safety issues. It was unusual for me to visit at this time of day so I was a little apprehensive. I parked in front of the home, got out, and went to put my purse in the trunk. As I was closing the trunk, two young men 8270429104_7fb57e120b_z (1)walked by. One said to the other, “What’re you doing?” The other young man replied, “Oh nothing, just lookin’ for something to steal.” I quickly closed the trunk and headed up to the home. I knocked and no one answered. By then it was dusk. After knocking several times, I left a note on the door then headed back to my car, honestly kind of glad to be leaving.

The truth is, those young men were probably just messing with me, seeing a perfect opportunity to make someone uncomfortable. But what if they were serious? If they were, then I had just provided them with a prime target by making it very obvious where I was putting my valuables.

I’ve written about general safety tips for intervention visits before. In this post, I’m going to suggest some specific car safety tips that I learned over the years from safety trainings and the police.

Car Safety Tips

Store your purse, shopping bags, wallet, etc. BEFORE you leave the office – I’ve seen so many interventionists do what I did, or hide their valuables under their seats after they pull up to the home. Carrying your bag to the trunk offers the bad guys an easy opportunity to rob you en route to the trunk. They’ll also know you’ve put something there so might be more inclined to try to get in. On the other hand, hiding your valuables under the seat makes it awfully easy to access them should someone break into your car. Wherever you hide them, be sure to do it before leaving the office.

Don’t leave any valuables in view – Other than your purse or wallet, this also includes your briefcase, GPS, iPod, cell phone (which you should always take with you into the home), money, or even anything that looks like mail (which could be mistaken for a check).

Look under & around your car as you walk towards it – Survey the area, including looking under your car. It sounds scary but a police officer once told me that he’d seen an attacker hide under a car and grab the driver’s ankles to pull her down.

Park on the street rather than in the driveway – It’s harder to get blocked in and easier to leave when you park on the street. A colleague of mine once got blocked in a driveway by a group of young people and had to pretend to dial 911 and show her phone to get them to move.

Back in rather than pull in – If you have to park in a space or the driveway, back in so you can leave quickly if needed.

Park in a well-lit area close to the home – Keep the walk between the car and the home to a minimum and look for a space in a lighted, open area. Parking behind the apartment building in a dark alley – never a good idea.

Park in the visitor’s lot or get a parking pass – I remember parking in the lot in front of an apartment complex and being warned by the mother to move my car before it got towed. The lot was unmarked so I didn’t know it wasn’t allowed. There was a visitor’s lot across the street so I moved my car – just in time. If you have to park in a restricted area, look into getting a pass if possible.

Ask the family for advice on where to park – A colleague of mine once told me she had a parent who instructed her about where to park and what to do before she got out of the car. The parent knew it wasn’t safe for her to walk to the apartment by herself so they worked out a system where she would park on the street in sight of the apartment then call the mother who would come down and walk her in. Eventually, the neighbors got to know my friend and it wasn’t an issue but initially, she appreciated the parent’s thoughtfulness.

Car time is a huge part of everyday life as an early interventionist. Since safety issues aren’t unique to certain neighborhoods and can pop up at anytime, always be aware of your surroundings and lock your doors. Keep your car in good working condition, follow your instincts and be safe.

What other car safety tips can you suggest? What are your thoughts on driving agency vehicles – safer or not?

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A few more resources:

Home Visits: Tips and Resource for Making Safe and Effective Home Visits

Personal Safety for Visiting Professionals

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2 Comments to “Car Safety Tips – It’s About More than Locking Your Doors!”

  1. I like all of your tips, especially not to leave any valuables in plain view. I have also heard that it is a really bad idea to leave a spare key anywhere on your car. It is great for when you get locked out, but also an invitation for any would be thief to steal your car. The same goes for your house, don’t hide the spare anywhere near the door. It is better to have to call a locksmith than to make your car/house an easy target for thieves.

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