the Quick Guide to Personal Safety
in Public Places

How to keep yourself and loved ones safe

We’d like to thank Matt Barcaro and Herald Trulear of WGAL News 8 for their special report.

We’ve all been there. Many of us do it every single day. Parking your car, going shopping, grabbing a quick lunch, leaving the office after what feels like the latest you’ve worked in months… Everyday, we’re overloaded with images and reports about bad things happening; unthinkable acts of crime and terror. The human mind quickly becomes desensitized, and we push it away; often telling ourselves “It’ll never happen here, not to me.”

It’s time to get that out of your mind. Thinking like that can get you into very serious trouble, and even killed. We’re proud to present: the Quick Guide to Personal Safety in Public Places. This guide will share with you an overview of tips that are easy to work into your increasingly busy everyday life. These simple to follow tips can mean the difference between going home, or becoming a statistic.



The Parking Garage

When it comes to parking your car in an urban setting, parking garages come to most everyone’s mind. Garages can be found in every major city across the country, and even in smaller towns and cities tucked away amongst rural surroundings.

Parking in these facilities present many opportunities for criminals to hide, patiently waiting for an unsuspecting victim. What’s a victim look like? Normal… Someone running late, looking at their phone, making sure they have their parking ticket to get validated, deep in thought. In other words – someone not paying attention to their surroundings because of distractions.

What to Do

1. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings! This is the no. 1 thing to do anywhere, anytime.

2. Look carefully at areas that are dimly lit, near large vehicles, or around blind corners

3. Pay extra attention near entrances/exits, especially if there are bushes or blind corners

4. Stairwells and elevators are also places to pay close attention, as bad guys can corner you

5. If an attack is imminent – Call 911 immediately, and activate the nearest emergency call box

6. If attacked, Run! Call 911 if possible, and press the panic button found on most car keys & fobs

7. In a worst case scenario, scream as loud as possible, and use any means necessary to protect yourself

8. Don’t hang up with the 911 center until help arrives, if running, put the phone in your pocket if needed

Dark Hallway


The Shopping Plaza

When it comes to personal safety, different environments present unique challenges. Whether leaving the office on your lunch break, catching a show, a formal dinner engagement, or just a night out on the town; being in an urban, downtown setting presents it’s own set of threats and challenges.

From drunk driving, to acts of terrorism, and other life shattering events; there are many things that you should keep in mind, even as you stroll down the sidewalk. From a bad guys perspective, there are inherent pros, and cons, to committing acts in a wide-open urban setting. Let’s examine a few things you can do to help keep yourself safe and secure.

What to Do

1. Again – Pay Attention to Your Surroundings!

2. Watch for persons behaving erratically, or who look out of place

3. Pay attention to vehicles, especially larger in size, that are speeding or driving erratically

4. Look out for persons acting nervously, or are in (or going towards) areas they should be in

5. Be mindful of packages, bags, boxes, etc., that seem out of place, or are in an area they shouldn’t be

6. Always have at least two routes of quick escape from the area you’re in

7. Pay attention to people walking into storefronts you may be inside of (think banks, jewelers, etc.)

8. If something is wrong, or an incident occurs, get away as fast as possible and call 911

Mall Hallway



Going to the mall, or other shopping plaza is something we all do at one time or another. Many who have children may spend more time in these areas than they’d like. They’re generally large, open spaces, and present unique challenges when it comes to one’s personal safety and security.

Intentional as well as accidental incidents involving things like shootings, fires, and the like; can quickly cause mass panic and become disorienting. However – follow these few tips and be mindful of your surroundings; and you can place yourself at an advantage, and increase the odds of escaping an incident without any serious injury – or worse.

What to Do

1. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings! (sound familiar?)

2. Keep a mental note of the entrance you used

3. Pay attention to obvious entrances and exits

4. Look for, and pay attention to emergency exit signs, panic buttons, and fire alarm stations

5. Look for people or items that look out of place, and listen if your gut tells you something’s wrong

6. Pay attention to people who stand out (winter clothes in summer, excessive sweating in winter, etc.)

7. At the first sign of trouble, move to the closest and safest exit that doesn’t cross paths with the danger

8. At the earliest opportunity, call 911 and give as much information as possible

Traveller Bag


Calling 911

We’ve said in the three examples above to call 911. Many people have never called 911, and many people are having what may be the worst day of their life when calling for help. It’s helpful to understand the way 911 centers work, and what they need from you in order to get you the help you need.

Most all modern day 911 Centers (PSAP’s,) have some pretty cool abilities. For example, in most cases when calling from a cell phone, GPS can give your location to 911 automatically. Landlines can also do this, however VoIP phones are a completely different animal. There is certain information the call taker will need to get from you, so let’s examine how the call should go.

What to Do

Stay calm, and speak as clearly as possible! Give your location FIRST, and don’t hang up

If you’re not sure of your exact location, give the best description you can

Next, briefly explain the nature of the emergency

Give descriptions of persons (race, clothing, age, height, weight, hair/eye color, tattoos, etc.)

If a car is involved, try to give the color, make and model (or style: e.g. pickup, sedan, convertible, etc.) and if possible – get the license plate number.

Describe anything special about the car (broken window, bumper stickers, fancy wheels, etc.)

This doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more detailed information you can give – the better



Using an Emergency Call Box

Call boxes are a little different versus calling 911. In most cases (and assuming the box is working properly,) you will be connected directly with a dispatcher or officer with the appropriate department based on the location of the box. Most of the same information should be given, however, it may be less important to give a detailed location, as the call boxes should be precisely mapped out with exact and detailed locations.

It’s worth noting that some of these boxes go to a security desk or other agency responsible for the area – and not the 911 center. In these instances, help will likely arrive faster, but it’s always a good idea to also call 911 in addition to activating a call box (especially true if the call box is inoperable or malfunctioning.)

What to Do

Stay calm, and speak as clearly as possible! Give your location FIRST, and don’t hang up

If you’re not sure of your exact location, give the best description you can

Next, briefly explain the nature of the emergency

Give descriptions of persons (race, clothing, age, height, weight, hair/eye color, tattoos, etc.)

If a car is involved, try to give the color, make and model (or style: e.g. pickup, sedan, convertible, etc.) and if possible – get the license plate number.

Describe anything special about the car (broken window, bumper stickers, fancy wheels, etc.)

This doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more detailed information you can give – the better

Strangers in Public



In Closing

No matter where you’re going, or what you’re doing; paying a little extra attention is the overall key to being safer and more secure. It’s easy enough to take a extra second or two – to have a look at what’s going on around you. Situational awareness, as it’s called, can enable you to see something happening, or about to happen; and give you the extra few seconds you may need to escape. Paying more attention will also allow you to better identify suspicious persons, vehicles, events, and make you a better witness. There’s a shortage of good witnesses across the nation today, mainly because no one pays attention to what’s going on around them.

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This guide is for informational use only and is provided as a public service to the community by TSE. This guide and the contents herein, do not constitute legal or medical advice. TSE assumes no responsibility or liability for the information herein, or for actions or decisions made based on the same.


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