About six months ago, a friend e-mailed me a list of safety tips for women, with the suggestion that I read it and pass it on.

I alerted a few others, but since the e-mail letter is still on my file, it occurs to me that this column might be a good way to get the word out to more women.

Now clearly I am not a police officer nor have I ever taken tae kwon do, or any other courses in self-defense. However these suggestions do make sense, so I pass them on in the hope that you’ll never find yourself in such a crisis situation.

But, should the occasion arise:

1. If a robber asks for your wallet or purse, do not hand it to him, but instead toss it away from you. Then run like mad in the opposite direction. Chances are he is more interested in your wallet/purse than he is in pursuing you.

2. Remember that the elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are being attacked and can use it against an aggressor, do so. And, although it sounds gross, fingers in the eyes are also recommended.

3. I realize this sounds like a “Law and Order” script, but if you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out a back taillight, stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you, but others will. This technique is said to have saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping or working and just sit there for a few minutes updating their checkbooks or making a list — without locking the car doors. You have given a predator the perfect opportunity to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head and tell you where to go. As soon as you get into your car, lock the doors and leave the parking lot.

5. If after getting in your car you discover someone is already in the back seat, holding a weapon and telling you to drive off, don’t do it. Instead, gun the engine and speed into anything — another car, a wall, a telephone pole — wrecking your car. Your air bag will save you, but the intruder will get the worst of it. When the car crashes, get out and run. A wrecked car is far better than having police find your body in a remote area.

6. When you’re parked in a lot or parking garage, look through the car windows at the passenger side floor and in the back seat before getting into the car to make sure no one is inside.

7. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars. If a man is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall or office and get a guard, policeman or another man to walk you back out. Better to be safe than sorry.

8. Always take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are the perfect crime spot, particularly at night.

9. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, always run, preferably in a zigzag pattern. It’s not easy to hit a moving target.

10. Although this may sound heartless, don’t be too sympathetic to strangers. It may get you raped or killed. Serial killer Ted Bundy, a good looking, well educated man, always played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He would walk with a cane or a limp and often ask for help getting into his vehicle — which is when he abducted his next victim.

11. Killers often use the recorded sound of a crying baby to coax women out of their homes at night. It sounds like a baby has crawled to the window and is crying pitifully, and the unsuspecting woman, thinking that someone has abandoned the child, will open the door to keep the child from perhaps crawling into the street. Call the police instead. The “crying baby” technique was mentioned in a profile of a serial killer on “American’s Most Wanted” TV show.

12. If you are walking alone in the dark (and you shouldn’t be) and you suspect someone is following you or begins to chase you, scream “Fire” not “Help.” People may not want to get involved if you should yell “Help,” but “Fire” will get their attention. Then run.

13. Never pull over if a man drives alongside you, pointing at your car, pretending something is wrong Instead, drive to the nearest well-lit and populated gas station and look it over yourself. Many women have fallen for this ruse, fearing that their car will spontaneously explode in the middle of the road. Not likely.

14. When having your car serviced, give the attendant only the car keys, not a key ring with house keys also attached. Keys can be duplicated, and they probably already have your address.

These suggestions probably sound a bit morbid but, ladies, we do live in a dangerous world, and you should take the first steps to protect yourself.

Stay safe.

Ferguson is a feature writer for the Herald-Banner.

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