July 9, 2016 10:53:53 PM
My friend Dr. Selden Lambert has years of expertise in criminology. With a degree in psychology from Mississippi University for Women, and a master's and a doctoral degree in criminology and counseling from Mississippi State University, Dr. Lambert had a long career in counseling and vocational rehabilitation for the court systems. She has some very good advice when it comes to a topic we too often take for granted -- our personal safety. The responsibility begins with us. If I may, I would like to share Dr. Lambert's authored insights and recommendations, in hopes they heighten our awareness of the world we live in today -- and help us all "be safe out there."
From Selden Lambert
The purpose of this writing is to provide information on the changing face of crime and provide suggestions and possible techniques for prevention and protection. There are no guaranteed solutions, but with education there are choices.
For personal safety, one quick and effective multi-purpose safety item is a personal life alert alarm worn on a cord which, at the touch of a button, summons the police, an ambulance, the fire department and other emergency personnel. Having a home alarm system is essential but not a total defense.
For homeowners who do not own a system, or must suddenly rely on one's self, there are several important options. For example, one might place guns and/or other self defense items in various parts of the house. Special law enforcement officers offer education and training at the police firing range for citizens during which one can learn safe ways to handle and fire a gun. In order to carry a concealed weapon, current state laws require one to acquire a license. There have been recent changes to even that. It seems unthinkable that people can now purchase assault weapons.
Another defense move involves setting up a "safe room" with a deadbolt lock in which, if threatened, one can quickly take cover. This room should have a weapon in a secure, safe place, and ideally, some way to sound an alarm. If your car keys have a remote, sounding the car alarm tends to draw attention and may scare an invader away.
In the event an intruder has cut the phone and power lines, your cell phone should be kept handy. Some alarm systems react to movement, others to glass breakage and/or an interrupted circuit, such as a door or window being opened. Upon approaching your house and being confronted by an attacker, you might be able to set off your alarm from outside by breaking a window or throwing a heavy object at your door. Invaders hate noise and light, so, the more the better. Cameras are also a great option. Alarm systems need to be checked regularly to make sure sensors are still in working order.
Many people have been brought up with the idea that one must always answer the phone and converse with whomever is calling. Also, they believe it is common courtesy to greet a stranger at the door. That way of life seems gone forever.
If the doorbell rings and you see no one there, it is possible that a would-be intruder could be standing to one side, just out of sight. Do not unlock your door to look out. Even if a company vehicle is in plain sight, there is no guarantee the person at the door is the person with the company. An intercom could alleviate that problem, unless the person in the uniform is actually a criminal.
Glass storm doors are attractive assets to one's home, but a good lock is essential. You should not assume that the lock will hold, but it could give you a few seconds more to get to your safe room and call for help.
If you live alone, you might put out a large dog bowl with some fresh dog food in it. Change the food on a regular basis. Moldy food is a sign there's really no dog around the house. Also, a large, muddy pair of men's boots has been known to be affective. Move them around occasionally. If you choose to have men's clothing hanging out on a clothes line, be sure they don't hang there for a week or so.
As a criminologist who has worked with inmates and parolees, I'm aware they say that when they are trolling for prey they may not believe that more than one person is in the house, but chances are they will pass that house up for an easier target. You should not assume that you are safe because it's in a "good" neighborhood. Bad things happen in the best and worst areas. Predators do not discriminate.
Editor's note: Watch for more information from Dr. Selden Lambert of Columbus in the July 17 Lifestyles section.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.