post written by: Marc Chernoff

20 Tips That Could Save Your Life


Life Saving Tips

‘20 Tips That Could Save Your Life’ is a guest post written by Diggy.

When your life is in jeopardy, nothing else matters.

Personal safety is not a topic I see many bloggers writing about, yet it’s a vital topic to the wellbeing of our lives.  Simply put, your health and safety form the foundation for everything else you do.  Maintaining this foundation must come before wealth, success, happiness, and almost every other aspect of self improvement and personal growth.

As you might expect, preparation is the key.  Often there are many simple habits and observations a victim could have followed to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.  And sadly, in many cases, these simple habits and observations could have saved their life.

Remember, there’s a big difference between being scared and being prepared.  I am not, nor would I ever suggest you live so cautiously that you scare yourself out of trying new things and seeing new places.  I am simply suggesting that, like a boy scout, you adequately prepare yourself before doing so.

  1. Let Someone Know Where You Will Be – When you live alone or even when you go out for the night, let a friend know where you will be.  This barely takes any effort on your part, and if something does go wrong or you are not back in the morning, somebody will know where to start if they have to look for you.
  2. Keep Doors and Windows Locked – I am always amazed at people who leave all the entryways to their house wide open when they are home, let alone when they go to sleep at night.  Although it’s nice to believe that nobody would violate your space while you’re in it, there are, unfortunately, a lot of bad people in the world who would love to take advantage of your naive, overly trusting habits.  Why risk being robbed or attacked in your own home when all you have to do is adopt the habit of locking your door after you go through it?
  3. Have An Exit Strategy – Do you know exactly what you would do if you woke up to a raging fire in your house?  What if there was a sudden earthquake?  What if you are driving on a dark country road and you realize someone suspicious is clearly following you?  By going over these scenarios in your head you can come up with plans and strategies to mitigate the inherent dangers.  The more you think and plan now, the less thinking and planning you’ll need to do in a moment’s notice.
  4. Always Be Prepared For The Unexpected – Never, ever be so humble as to think that something cannot happen to you.  There are simple things you can do to prepare for unfortunate events.  For example:  Keep your cell-phone charged and always have some credits so that it is available for an emergency call when needed.  Keep some spare money in a hidden place (in your car?) in case you get robbed or lose your wallet.  Program emergency phone numbers into your phone because when you’re in shock or in a panic, you will not always be able to think straight.
  5. Learn A Martial Art – Physical confrontation is always a last resort, but if push comes to shove, you better be able to defend yourself.  I suggest Muay Thai for guys and Aikido for girls.  Besides the fact that they are both good forms of self defense, they are also fun ways to exercise.  This (and this) is an awesome guide for simple and effective self defense.  You do not need to study martial arts for years to learn and apply some decent self defense moves.  More often than not, the assailant will be male.  Attack the weak spots on his body: The eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus, groin, knees, etc.  A well-aimed strike or blow to one of these areas could instantly neutralize the attacker.
  6. Carry Pepper SprayPepper Spray (or Mace) is an awesome self-defense product.  It comes in a little pressurized spray can and one little spray of the substance in an attacker’s eyes will immobilize them for nearly 15 minutes.  It is legal in most countries, very cheap, and it can save your rear end in a hostile situation.
  7. Buy a Small Keychain Weapon – Get a Stinger or a Kubaton.  These tiny weapons will easily fit onto your keychain, and if you ever need to defend yourself in a moment’s notice they will give you a significant advantage over just using your hands and fists.
  8. Be Extra Cautious At Night – Do not stop at gas stations or quick marts late at night if anything looks suspicious or if the area is not well lit or supervised.  If you must stop, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you so you have plenty of room to drive away in an instant.  Do not walk along streets late at night by yourself or even with friends.  Darkness usually invites trouble.
  9. Observe Emergency Exits – Just like always having an exit strategy, it is important to know where the emergency exits are when you are in a public location.  The more crowded the location, the more important it is that you know where they are.  An example of this was back in the early 2000’s with a New Years Eve party at a night club in a small Dutch town called Volendam.  The emergency exits were blocked off, the club was packed with partygoers and a fire broke out.  There was a panic and people could not get out easily, the result being that many people were seriously injured.
  10. Never Trust Strangers – Never, ever trust strangers.  I know, it is sad but true.  You simply cannot trust someone you do not know.  I am rather trusting in nature, but I am very cautious when trusting somebody with any important aspect of my life who has not previously proven their trustworthiness to me.  This includes people who claim to be police, firemen or other officials.  Always ask them for identification or proof to support their position.
  11. Trust Your Intuition – If an environment or situation feels wrong, listen to your intuition (or gut-feeling).  Our subconscious mind can often determine when something is not quite right way before we can consciously determine why we have that feeling.  It’s smarter to be cautious than careless.
  12. Don’t Flaunt Your Wealth – If you are well-off and possess what others desire, do not be arrogant about it and flaunt it every chance you get.  This is just asking for trouble.  Of course you can and should enjoy the fruit of your hard-earned labor, but try to do it in a way attracts less attention and is respectful of others who are less fortunate.
  13. Ask For Help When You Need It – Don’t be scared to ask or scream for help if you think you need it.  Wouldn’t you rather risk looking like an idiot than trying to be brave and ending up hurt or worse?
  14. Don’t Get Intoxicated In Strange Places – Sometimes people like to get a little drunk, sometimes very drunk,  and this fine as long as you are in a safe place.  But do not get too drunk in unfamiliar places where it is not safe (where there are people you do not know like public locations, clubs and parties at other people’s houses).
  15. Avoid Deserted Places – When you go out alone, try to avoid deserted places.  Sure, deserted places can seem calm and peaceful, but criminals and bad guys always look for easy targets, and someone who is alone in a place where there are no witnesses or people to help out is an easy target.  If you do go out alone, always let someone know where you will be and have some sort of weapon with you (pepper spray is a pretty good option).
  16. Fight or Flight – It sounds pretty simple, because what other choices do you have, right?  Wrong!  Many people freeze up due to shock or adrenaline when they encounter a hostile situation.  And this is obviously the worst thing you can do.  Even black-belt martial artists who are really good in the dojo can become totally paralyzed when confronted with a real fight on the street.  You need to make the decision in your head and prepare yourself for intense hostile situations.  Either you run and get away (usually the best option), or if you have no other choice, you fight and you fight without hesitation and with everything that you’ve got.
  17. Get a Dog – If you like animals and have the means to care for one, get yourself a dog.  It doesn’t have to be a big vicious dog either.  Most dogs, even small ones, will alert you when they hear unusual sounds around them.  Attackers are also far less likely to mess with you if you have a dog walking beside you.
  18. Be Careful With Your Personal Details – Be careful to who you give your personal information to (name, number, address, work, credit card, etc).  This applies in real life and also on the internet.  Unfortunately, in today’s world there are lots of weirdos and criminals who try to lure people into giving them their personal details so they can steal their identity and take advantage of them in other ways.
  19. Vary Your Routine – Try not to follow the same exact routine every single day.  If you leave and come home at exactly the same times or stop in the same spot or visit the same restaurant at certain times, criminals may pick up on this and target you as a potential victim.
  20. Take Action When You Are Being Followed – If you think you are being followed, cross the road.  If you need to, do this a few times.  If this confirms your suspicion, go into the nearest public place and phone the police.  If you are in a car, first confirm your suspicion by turning into a few different roads.  If you know you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station.  If someone wants you to pull over on a dark or deserted road and he looks like some sort of official or police officer but is not in an official police car, rather be safe and drive to the nearest police station.

Do you have any additional personal safety tips?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Diggy writes all about self improvement and personal growth on his blog, Upgrade Reality.  He wants to inspire and motivate as many people as possible to live their lives to the fullest and to be their best selves.  Spread the word or subscribe to his blog via RSS or Email (and get a free copy of his 58 page ebook).

Photo by: B. Rosen

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38 Comments

  • Thank you for this post! I’ve survived a few scary situations so far (assault, bribery schemes, accidents) and appreciate that you put together this advice/information in a very easily digestible format. Hope all is well and safe journeys!

  • Hey Marc,
    Thank you for allowing me to guest post on your awesome blog! I hope that your readers enjoy the article!

    Cheers!
    Diggy

  • hum… this is a post that could have been written only by an american!;-) …
    The fear of a violent death is so much part of your culture (even though it doesn’t even make the top ten list of mortality causes: http://www.healthypeople.gov/document/images/fig8a.jpg), that you will end up locking yourself in your highly-secured compound and turn your life into a (real) nightmare, just for the sake of “safety”…
    you think your suggestions are simple, basic ones… but for me, “never trust strangers”, or “avoid deserted places” are rather extreme measures… (remember that your best friend used to be a “stranger”… every place used to be “deserted” before someone discovers it)
    As a canadian-born, i grew up with doors unlocked and without the irrational fear of being kidnapped, molested or violented… (now living in Asia, i experience the same natural peace of mind)
    Even though i agree that we should be “aware” of what’s happening around us , I simply can not subscribe to your advices and let my life and freedom being dictated by a unrealistic vision of reality : the US homicide rate is 0,005% !!… if we’re really afraid of dying of a painful death, why don’t we unlock the door and go play outside to exercise, because 75% of us will die of health-related diseases… (now THAT is real and scary!)

  • Hey great post, been a door man for 5 years and have been involved in a good bit of self defense, I would highly recommend Muay Thai for both males and females. It is an extremely effective Martial art for ALL SHAPES AND SIZES, plus its extremely good for fitness and is easy to pick up. In my opinion Aikido is very good BUT it can take a very very long time to get it right. I have seen some people try to use Aikido before on the street and they were just laughed at, then flattened.

    Stinger’s and Kubaton’s are very effective if used properly, I would suggest learning how to use these. Instead of having an obvious self defense weapon/tool I would suggest you find something similar, i.e a strong marker can act as a kubaton, even holding a strong lighter in your hand while striking someone makes a world of difference!

    One of the biggest bits of advice I could ever give to anyone on the street is if you are un easy about someone or something dont show your scared. A scared looking person is always an easy target. If somebody looks confident (in a non cocky sense) scumbags might think twice for they may think you have a reason to be confident in that area and situation!

    Safe walking folks! anyone interested in more info just leave a comment and ill send you my email.

    Ger

  • Keep Calm and Carry On
    June 28th, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Guys… sorry but this is a horrible post. You’re basically saying ‘lock yourself indoors with weapons and trust no one’.

    Big fan of your blog but please, less of the paranoid delusion.

  • We don;t spend a lot of time thinking about how to prepare for the worse, but found this article very interesting — added a few things to the to-do list as a result. Thank you. We think preparing for the worse, might actually help with happiness. When you know you are prepared, you really don;t have to worry — odds are minuscule that something will happen and much, much smaller to result in an unpleasant outcome if prepared. Found you on blogcatalog and will come by often!

  • If you ask me, personal development is much more about creating an exciting life with lots of positive communication and social interraction than it is about gaining safety and locking yourself in. It’s hard to see how never trusting strangers could be a part of such a development.

    Maybe it’s worth the risk to trust random people on the street and not lock our doors if what we gain is a more open world.

  • Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.

  • @All:

    This was a guest post written by Diggy, so I don’t want to speak on his behalf, but I do want to respond to a few of the negative comments.

    I agree with the position that being paranoid is not a smart or prolific way to live. However, I also believe most of these tips (and most safety tips in general) seem overly simplistic and possibly even worthless until the moment the sh*t hits the fan, at which point they become pretty darn important.

    While I don’t completely agree with every single point Diggy makes, I do believe the article as a whole acts as a solid reminder that life isn’t all peaches and cream. And we do need to be prepared for that reality.

    @Diggy: Thanks for the reminder. ;-)

  • Hello Everyone,
    I wrote this article and I am not American, I am actually Dutch but I live in South Africa.

    Of course I am not advocating that you lock yourself in your house and load up on automatic machine guns, hand-grenades and bullet proof vests.

    I do believe that it is stupid to not be prepared and to be naive and believe that you are immune to crime, attack or danger. I have personally witnessed people getting stabbed, getting their head smashed in with a brick, I have personally had my car stolen from me at gunpoint by 5 men (something that could have been prevented with a little caution.)

    It is one thing to take a standpoint of not caring when you have only your own life to care for, because at worst it is you that suffers. But if you live with other people, or have a family or wife and kids, then I believe it is your duty to be safe and be aware.

    It is a vicious world out there and although I wouldn’t attack someone or harm them, unfortunately there are other people who will take your life for something as meaningless as a watch or an amount of money that can’t even buy you a new TV.

    I just want you to be safe. Rather safe than sorry. Maybe you are lucky and never meet face to face with crime, but in case you do, rather be prepared for it than regret that you weren’t.

    Cheers!
    Diggy

  • This is a good topic, though I do feel it is out of place on this particular blog.

  • Thanks Diggy and marc for the very practical tips. I like number 12 and 13 a lot. Thanks for sharing

  • I think it’s a good post and just for kicks, Luigi, I am from Iran and would have written most of these and my Canadian friend here agrees with a good bit of this list so let’s be nice and refrain from pointing fingers at one nationality vs. another. I think Diggy was trying to point out how we can increase our self-awareness in a world where terrible things happen and they happen in the US, in Canada, in Europe, in Iran, and in everywhere, no place is absolutely safe but you can take your own measures of judgment. We all have different levels of comfort.

  • Hey Marc,

    I think what I can relate the most to is the “exit” strategy. Where ever I’m at, I always observe my surroundings. Who is around me, where the nearest exists are… It’s just habit from past experiences.

    Have a good day

  • Wow I didn’t catch that, Sorry Diggy!

  • Hi, Diggy. I took a personal defense class last year and the instructor was also from South Africa (I’m in the US). He related some fairly scary moments, and I can see why he chose teaching personal safety as a career.

    The main takeaway I got from the class is to have a plan in place before you need one so you don’t waste valuable seconds planning in a crisis situation. You spend one afternoon learning it, review it on occasion, and make note of your surroundings as a general rule. It seemed like a good investment of my time.

    After that, you just have to live your life. I read that most people die in accidents around the house, so I guess if you want to play the odds I’m going to be safer traveling full-time than when I was a homeowner.

  • wish i read this article few days ago, it was my first time to travel and those tips would have helped, thank u:)

  • Intiuition is so important on that list. Most of us instinctively know that alley/lane is not the right one to take. Its also important to be observant. Not be lost in iphones and blackberrys. A pickpocket , a stalker thrive on a distracted mind. Its also good for the spirit, to know the road we walk on and the tube you take, to observe life for safety and comfort. Thanks for sharing. A great list.

  • I must say I tend to agree with Luigi it is important to see things in perspective.

    There are always risks in everything you do. But, as any investment banker will concur, risk is necessary for reward. This also holds true in personal situations. To develop oneself, it is necessary to move out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. This is not achieved by being overly paranoid.

    Of course there are dangers in life. Every major city has its neighbourhoods and places you shouldn’t walk through in the night. Some countries (especially relatively unstable ones with lots of poverty such as South-Africa) more than others.

    However, getting robbed isn’t usually aimed at the person. The simplest thing to do is to simply give the assailant what he/she wants. That is what insurance is for and it is important not to limit your own potential because of hypothetical dangers.

    If you ask me, getting a dog out of pure paranoia is just wrong and I wouldn’t want to always carry pepper spray. The sad thing is, if you feel this insecure, you tend to show this subconsciously through your posture and actions. As such you tend to attract problems more than just being normal and confident. (Of naive as you might call it.)

    If you might be wondering, I’m Dutch and currently living in the Netherlands even though I just came back from living in Londen half a year ago.

  • I think in a world where we have enough rules and regulations. I will knock out some of these existential tips. Such as not flaunt my wealth etc. I think if you work hard enough for it. And want to live every day like its your last. All bets are off. But great advice non the less…lol.

  • Good tips. I carry a taser with me now whenever I go somewhere strange or if I am alone in the dark. I also carry the taser if I go running and its a sweet taser.. get in my way and you’ll be on the ground!

  • I started reading the tips, and assumed that it was written by an American. It was only as I got down to the comments that I realised that it was written by a fellow South African.

    I am a director of security for the area in which I live, and would highly recommend everyone everywhere to take all of the points to heart and adopt those that apply to you.
    Often people who are a victim of a crime will realise that there was something that they “could” have done to prevent the crime from happening in the first place.
    I can not tell you how many times people have items stolen from out of unlocked cars, items taken from open garages, ladies leaving handbags on the car seat in full view of smash and grab opportunists etc.

    Security is a matter of personal choice, you can choose to be prepared or you can choose to have someone else make decisions for you.
    Unfortunately, crime happens to varying degrees around the world. What might be a daily routine in my house of locking up at night, might seem strange to a Canadian but as discussed and said above, adopt those tips that apply to you, or could apply to you.
    Having someone present you with a range of alternatives, gives you the option of adopting those that apply to you

    Thanks for the tips, lets see some more.

  • Diggy,

    Great reminders for being prepared and I will second what Marc said,

    “While I don’t completely agree with every single point Diggy makes, I do believe the article as a whole acts as a solid reminder that life isn’t all peaches and cream. And we do need to be prepared for that reality.”

  • While I was walking down the street, a man was walking behind me. I didn’t pay much attention to it because there were a lot of people. An old lady approached me. Maybe that scared the man away. The old lady said the man was trying to open my backpack. How could I not notice?

    I was glad that there are still people who cares.

  • No mention of First Aid training?

  • In some circles, some take offense at the mention of firearms as an option for self defense. However, sometimes, folks want more than just your wallet.

    For those who would also like to know how to appropriately use a concealed carry firearm, the training at Front Sight is remarkable. They are in the U.S. and about 1 hour north of Las Vegas.

    They can teach you how to draw your firearm from a concealed holster and but two rounds into a bad guy’s chest in 1.5 seconds.

    Not necessarily a pleasant thought but it sure beats being on the receiving end of those bullets.

    http://www.frontsight.com/

    They are currently running a promo to their email distribution list for a 2-day training for $200.

  • Hi. I just wanted to comment on the criticism that this list is somehow promoting the idea of hiding from life instead of living it. I believe the opposite is true. A simple example….

    My teenage daughter wanted me to the midnight opening of the newest Twilight movie Tuesday night. By the time we decided on this, the only theater not already sold out was the one in the worst part of town. Now, if I were living fearfully, I would have told my daughter “no” and waited for another day. Instead, be being prepared and following basic safety procedures, I knew this could be a fun mother-daughter experience for us. My husband knew where we would be, I had a fully-charged cell phone with me, made sure to park under a light and lock the car doors, and scanned the parking lot both entering and leaving the theater. (My daugter and I have also both taken self-defense training.) We had a great time!

    I don’t understand how anyone could think that a list like this promotes fear and paranoia. If anything, using the common sense safety tips here encourage me to go out and experience life more knowing I can do so with a certain measure confidence and a relative level of safety. Perhaps it’s less of a nationality thing, and more of a male/female thing. There is an added layer of vulnerability in being female that most men don’t have to deal with. I can’t believe that anyone would NOT want their wife, daughter, mother, sister, any woman of their acquaintence to be aware of potential dangers around them and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety.

    And as to the tip about trusting strangers…distrust does not negate friendliness. I want my daughter to understand that it’s one thing to have a friendly chat with a cute guy at a coffee shop; it’s an entirely different thing to hop in his car for a ride home.

  • THANK YOU! I think that people don’t talk about this stuff enough. Even if you are a strong person who can take care of themselves, there are always some safety issues that everyone should be aware of!

  • The best advice I can give for anyone who is being mugged and can’t fight, is to hide your most valuable possession in-your mouth. It would have to be small and can’t be too obvious, so an engagement or wedding would be your best choice.

    My brother-in-law’s mom was once mugged in a foreign country. She did some quick thinking, and while she was getting her money out to give to the thief, she tucked her engagement ring in her mouth. She couldn’t save her wedding band, but she still got away with her life, and a nice diamond.

  • It’s a case to case basis. What’s applicable for you may not be applicable for me.

  • I went abroad last week. My bag was snatched. I wanted to fight back and not give the culprit my bag. But then again, he had a knife pointed at me. It’s not worth it.

  • thanks for posting this… Really great info.

  • Indeshaw Adenaw
    July 11th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Great tips, Diggy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Having taken Wing Chun Kung Fu and Aikido, and had exposure to several other martial arts, I’ve met several women instructors in varying styles, and the most effective ones (the women I would never tangle with) took Wing Chun, Gracie JuJitsu, or Bujinkan. All three arts were designed with the core concept of superior technique and speed beating strength. Wing Chun is probably the easiest and fastest to learn, with Bujinkan most likely having the longest investment in time before you see any benefit (but will give probably the widest range of skill overall, compared to other arts I’ve seen). If someone wants to “train realistically”, they might try taking Gracie at a gym that also teaches MMA for competition.

    I would also make a second choice option of Aikido, which is very effective for area awareness and conflict avoidance, but I feel that if someone never had been in a fight and tried to use it in a mugging, they might get hurt if they hadn’t concentrated on the “martial” aspect of that art. Most martial artists I know who also have security/law enforcement backgrounds take Aikido after mastering something else first (usually Wing Chun Kung Fu or Escrima, at least where I live). It is very useful, but I’ve found that its application improves if you have foundations in something else first.

  • I am in the middle area here. It is very important to be aware of the fact that crap happens and it can happen to anywhere. You simply need to be aware of your situation: where you are, who’s around you, etc. This is pretty much a catch-all phrase for this whole list.
    Ladies, it is very important for you to do this. We tend to be trusting by nature (guys, this can go for you too!) and it can be good, but also end up very bad. Get to know someone before giving out private information. If you need to give private info over the phone, be sure it’s somewhere where no one else can over hear you (your car is a good place)…you never know who is listening (bit paranoid, I know, but I’ve seen it happen..).
    And as was said earlier, don’t be paranoid, but don’t be stupid either. Example: I always keep an eye on traffic around me so I have an escape if necessary (namely something happens in front of me and I need to move) and so I can keep an eye on people following me (but I’ve only worried about that a handful of times in my life). Another example: while there are people who leave their doors/windows unlocked (home/car) and have no problems, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be any. I know that in Maryland if you leave your car unlocked and it gets stolen, the police will try to catch the guy and he will be punished, but you too will get your wrists slapped (so to speak) for leaving it unlocked in the first place.
    And basically, as said earlier, these points are for those few occasions when sh*t hits the fan. If you have some idea of what you would do when it does could save your life (although more than likely it’ll save you some pain and suffering).
    Just be smart folks!

    P.S. Diggy: I plan to take a self-defense class. There are a few times when I’ve had men come up to me (I’m female) that scared me…luckily I was in a public place and could get away without much trouble. And I never gave them my name (ok, I did it twice, but the other times I learned from my mistake and didn’t give it out…and I NEVER gave out my age or any of the other personal information they asked…and this time I mean NEVER).

  • Thank you so much for this post! I will be living on my own for the first time this year and instead of feeling scared, your post made me feel like I should feel independent and I can actually take care of myself on my own. Great tips and thank you so much again for posting this

  • I also recommend taking a couple of NRA classes and having a shotgun/handgun in a safe location away from children.

  • Great tips for safety and life. I agree you should always be aware of your surroundings.

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