September is Safety Month

Make a Year-Round Commitment to Your Safety

September 6, 2013

By Amy Robey, MORe Now Contributor


In recognition of September as Safety Month, it is important that all REALTORS® remember that safety is their number one priority. No matter where you are--home, office, conducting open houses--be sure to always keep safety on your mind and make safety your year-round commitment.


Check out the National Association of REALTORS® and Illinois Association of REALTORS® resources that include online articles, blog posts, webinars and videos that discuss safety tips for REALTOR® safety. Be aware and empowered to make sure you practice good safety at home, at the office and with your clients.
Always be sure to take extra safety precautions: Here are some safety tips from Joe Rosner, author of "The Real Estate Safety Book", as presented to REALTORS®  in Champaign, Illinois on August 8th. Did you know most people do more planning for dinner parties than they do for their own personal safety?
-- Don't go to open houses alone. Take someone with you--coworker, spouse, friend or lender.

-- Before you get out of your car --do a quick look around--what should you be looking for? Men. More than 99% of all violent predators are male. Ask yourself two important questions--who is he and what is he doing here. It will activate your own intuitive warning system. It activates your subconscious which can process information much faster and more accurately than your conscious mind. Keep an eye on the person and don't go into the house or go waist deep into your trunk searching for a yard sign until you can be sure you are safe.

-- Listen to your subconscious on what that person may be doing there and heed the warning before approaching the house. Your intuition may mean you are in danger. Listen to that intuition.

-- Don't wait until you get a big bunch of adrenaline in your bloodstream. When your adrenaline is bumped up a notch, you lose your peripheral vision and fine motor skills. Review your plans before approaching the house. Think about it before anything happens. If you wait until something happens it may be too late. 
-- Go into the house and turn on lights--find out where all the exits are and know where they lead.
-- Identify any space in the home where you could be cornered or trapped. Don't go in the basement. You can send a potential buyer into the basement to check it out but you don't need to go into the basement if you are in the home alone during an open house.
-- Talk to the homeowner ahead of time to make sure they secure their valuables, jewelry, coin collections and pharmaceuticals. Also instruct them to secure all items in the house that might be used as identify theft against them such as personal paperwork, computers and the family tree. People can get a mother's maiden name and birthdays off the family tree.
-- Always have a sign-in sheet or electronic sign-in equivalent via IPad, etc.. Predators know the information they put down can be used to track them. Get a piece of card stock and create a sign and place it near the sign-in form. Your sign should read "Our company policy requires all to present photo ID."  Have people show photo ID. If someone comes in smelling like alcohol, point to this sign and ask, "Can I see some ID" and tell them it's company policy by pointing to your sign.  A person might say 'I left my wallet in the car' and you may never see them again. You did not lose a sale; you may have saved your life.
-- What can you do to be safer? Go to your library or purchase a copy of the book, "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker.
-- If you feel threatened, run away. If that is not an option, call 911. Keep your call short, simple and factual. "I am calling to report an assault in progress at this address." Ensure your office has a coded distressed signal set up where you can call in an emergency.
-- If you are on an elevator and feel threatened, press lots of buttons. Don't press the alarm button it may stop the elevator between floors or may just ring into a maintenance office. Take your hand and hit several buttons.
-- Yelling "help" is preferable to carrying a personal panic alarm or carrying a whistle.  The best response is "Help! I'm being attacked. Call 911!"
-- Talk your way out of the situation. Hold up your smart-phone  and tell the attacker, 'You had better leave me alone because your photo is now going to 911."  or "You better leave me alone--that is a police surveillance camera." Point to anything hanging off a pole or building. Buy yourself time. "You better leave me alone! My husband is coming to pick me up. There is his truck now!"
-- Elevate your voice and talk confidently.
-- Create a barrier between you and your attacker. A locked door is ideal. Get in the car and lock your doors. If it is not your car, drop to the ground and roll under a car to get away from attacker.
-- If in a self -defense situation, don't face the person square on. Turn yourself sideways with YOUR strongest side toward the attacker. Doing so, it will be hard for your attacker to knock you over and hard for you to trip. The next step you take is giving them a nonverbal gesture. Put your hands out with palms facing the person and loudly state, "Back off!"
-- If the person moves closer to you, kick the attacker in knee and shin or on the top of the foot. A kick to the groin may give the assailant an extra shot of adrenaline and anger and you don't want that. If you kick the assailant's patella, tibia or metatarsal those bones on the top of the foot fracture easily. After you kick, run to a safe place and call 911.
-- Use pressure points in self-defense. Find the suprasternal notch in your throat area--the depression in the top of the sternum between the two clavicles—also called the jugular notch. Put three fingers firmly in that spot, wiggle around and you will find it uncomfortable. Put those three fingers into notch and press back and down. You can lift a 300 lb man with three fingers in that jugular notch.
-- Pepper spray is a best self-defense. Rosner believes it to be superior to stun guns. You have to be close to a person to enable a stun gun--you don't want to be close to the person--you want to be further away. A stun gun will not work through thick clothing such as a leather jacket or raincoat and you have to hold against the person for four seconds. If a stun gun is turned around and used on you it is very painful and will scramble your nervous system and you will be unable to move for several minutes. Blunt and sharp instruments require strength and speed, skill and training, and without that training, these instruments may endanger you more. Wasp spray is hard to aim and does not go very far. If you are in a dangerous situation and all you have is a spray, use it whether it is--cooking spray, wasp spray, spray paint, etc.. Don't rely on your keys as a defense mechanism unless it is all you have. Also, another effective weapon is anything that is granular such as sand, salt or sugar. Take a handful of it and fling it in somebody's face. It is enough to get in their eyes and cause discomfort while giving you enough time to escape, get to safe place and call 911. With pepper spray aim for the face (Their eyes will swell shut as soon as they inhale. Their bronchiolar passages will become inflamed and the attacker will find it hard to breathe. Shout, "Back-off" and spray the pepper spray. You are not killing the person, you are buying yourself time to make a quicker decision to get out of the situation quickly.
Rosner is Director of Best Defense of Illinois and a national recognized expert on safety and self-defense. He is the author of "Street Smarts and Self-Defense for Children" and also author of The Real Estate Safety Book.
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