The Conley Group, Inc.

Personal Safety Tips

It has been said about self-defense training that fully half of what we learn is preventive, and we practice it in hopes of never having to use the other half. The reality is that all activities (driving a car, filling the bathtub, walking through the parking lot at night) entail some risk. We all have different attitudes toward risk. At one end of the scale is refusing to engage in an activity by exaggerating the risk involved. At the other end is engaging in very risky activities while refusing to take any precautions. Neither of these attitudes are useful for living an empowered life. What is useful is to accurately assess the risks involved, take whatever precautions make sense, and live as fully as possible. We hope these tips help you lead a safer and longer life.

General and Personal Safety
Security at Home
Personal Security at Work
Automobile Personal Security Tips
How to Help Prevent a Carjacking
How to Help Protect Yourself in a Parking Garage
While on the Street
Personal Defense Against Dogs
When Using Public Transportation
While in Public Places
Defense Against Purse Snatching
Baby Sitting
Physical Assault
Martial Arts and Self Defense
Domestic Travel Security Tips
Safety Tips for International Travel

General Personal Safety and Security

  • Create a safety plan.
  • Listen to and act on your intuition. It's better to be safe and risk a little embarrassment, than stay in an uncomfortable situation that may be unsafe.
  • If you are in danger or being attacked and want to get help, yell "Call 911!" or give specific directions to onlookers; for example: "You! Get the police!" or "Walk me to the store on the corner, I'm being followed."
  • Have your keys ready when approaching your car or building.
  • Vary your routine: drive or walk different routes every day.
  • If you suspect that someone is following you, by foot or in a car, don't go home (or they will know where you live). Go to a trusted neighbor or to a public place to call police, or directly to the police station.
  • Do not label keys with your name or any identification.
  • Don't talk about your social life or vacation plans where strangers can overhear you.
  • Always have your cellphone with you and ensure the battery is fully charged.
  • Do not hitchhike under any circumstances.

If you carry a firearm for personal safety:

  • Ensure you are committed to use deadly force on another person if it is needed.
  • Always remember that your firearm is a tool, not a toy.
  • Obtain the proper firearms training and become proficient with its use before carrying it for self-defense.
  • If it is a pistol (semi-automatic), know how to disassemble, clean and reassemble the firearm.
  • Ensure you have a valid weapons permit to carry legally.
  • ALWAYS assume the firearm is loaded.
  • Protect the firearm so children cannot find it when at home.
  • NEVER pull your firearm on another person to “scare” or shoot to injure them. If you pull your firearm, be fully prepared to use it to deliver deadly force

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Security at Home

  • Equip all your exterior doors with a one-inch deadbolt or a drop-bolt lock. The lock should also have a highly pick-resistant cylinder protected by a guard plate. Change existing locks immediately before you move into a new home.
  • Install a door peephole, an intercom system, or closed circuit camera system to identify visitors before opening the door. The peephole should be of the wide-angle type that gives a fuller view of the outside area.
  • Exterior doors should be of the "metal or solid wood core" type, which provide a stronger barrier against break-ins.
  • Do not open the door until you are sure of the identity of your visitor.
  • Always double lock the door when leaving, even to put out trash, pick up mail or walk the dog. Keep all doors locked at night.
  • Secure windows and sliding glass doors by drilling a small hole at a downward angle through the interior frame and partially into the exterior frame. Slide a bolt or nail into the hole to prevent the window/door from being opened. You can also equip windows with a lock that cannot be defeated from the outside.
  • Trim shrubs around windows and doors that could conceal a burglar.
  • Install exterior lighting or motion sensor lighting to illuminate dark or hidden entryways.
  • Consider installing yard fencing to limit unauthorized entry.
  • Install a home alarm system, purchased and installed by a nationwide reputable company. The system should include door and window contacts, motion sensors and glass break sensors.
  • If you lose your keys or they are stolen, replace lock cylinders immediately.
  • Don't volunteer any information to unknown callers on the telephone. Don't give out your home phone number to wrong number callers. Instruct young children not to give out information over the phone to unfamiliar callers.
  • Give careful consideration to requests to photograph your home.
  • If awakened at night by an intruder, lie still, try not to panic, and at first opportunity call the police.
  • All exterior doors should be equipped with a deadbolt lock, with a one-inch throw.
  • All windows should be secure. Draw window shades or drapes after dark.
  • All entrances and garages should be well lit.
  • Never remain alone in an apartment laundry room, mailroom or parking garage.
  • Avoid feminine identification. Do not put your first name on your mailbox or in the telephone book. Use two initials and your last name.
  • Never give personal information to telephone solicitors.
  • Consider creating a "safe room" with a separate telephone line or cellular phone, and strong locks. If someone breaks in, you can retreat there (with children) and call for help.

Use this list for ideas to make your home more secure

      • Ensure door hinges are protected from removal from the outside.
      • Is there a screen or storm door with an adequate lock
      • Is the exterior or front entrance lit with at least a 40-watt bulb
      • Can front entrances be observed from the street or public areas
      • Does the porch or landscaping offer concealment from view from a street or public area
      • Do any upper floor windows open onto porch or garage roofs
      • Is there a door from the outside to the basement
      • Is the garage door kept locked at all times
      • Are tools and ladders kept in the garage at all times
      • Are smoke and heat detectors adequate
      • Are ground floor windows properly locked or blocked

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Personal Security at Work

  • Don't leave your keys or other personal property lying about.
  • Notify security personnel if you notice suspicious persons or vehicles, especially after normal working hours.
  • Be extra careful in stairwells and isolated or poorly lighted restrooms.
  • In an elevator stand near the controls and locate the emergency button.
  • Do not get in an elevator with someone who looks suspicious to you.
  • Know your co-workers and look out for each other.
  • At every phone: Emergency numbers for security, police, fire departments, and list of employees who are trained in CPR or first aid.

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Automobile Personal Security Tips

Staying safe while in your car is as important as when you are anywhere else. Here are a few things to remember while traveling, both short and long distances:

  • Keep your car in good working condition and always have more than enough gas to get there and back.
  • Always have your cellphone with you and ensure the battery is fully charged.
  • Keep a mobile cellphone charger in your car.
  • If your car runs out of gas or breaks down, raise the hood and tie a white cloth to the door handle to alert passing police cars. Get back in the car and keep the doors and windows locked until the police come. If someone stops, stay in your vehicle with the door locked and the window slightly cracked open. Ask him or her to phone for help. Use a banner that says "Please Call Police" on the front or rear window.
  • Park in well-lit areas that will still be well-lit when you return, like under a street lamp.
  • View interior of vehicle before entering to assure no one is hiding inside, even if the doors were locked.
  • If you think someone is following you, don't head home. Keep your hand near the horn and drive to the nearest police or fire station, open gas station, or other business where you can safely get help.
  • Look around and under your vehicle before approaching.
  • After you get in to your vehicle, immediately lock all doors.
  • Never leave keys in the vehicle or ignition.
  • Never leave your vehicle running when unattended – not even in your driveway!
  • Always keep windows up and doors locked
  • even while driving.
  • Park in secured lots that are well-lit and near high traffic areas.
  • Remove valuables from your vehicle and place them in the trunk out of view.
  • Keep your garage door opener with you. If your vehicle is stolen, the thief may attempt to get into your house.
  • Avoid leaving any information that contains your home address in your car.
  • Always lock your car when entering and leaving it.
  • Have your keys in your hand so you do not have to linger before entering your car.
  • Travel on well-lit streets and keep your purse out of sight.
  • Do not stop to offer help to a stranded motorist. Call local law enforcement via your cellphone.
  • Check your surroundings before getting out of your car.
  • Don't pick up hitchhikers.
  • Keep doors locked and windows rolled up so that a hand can't reach in.
  • If a group of suspicious people approaches you when you are stopped at a red light at a deserted intersection, run the light if your intuition tells you that the situation could get dangerous.
  • Don't let gas indicator fall below ¼ of a tank.
  • Plan your route and check a map before you start out.
  • Park in well-lit, heavily traveled areas if possible.
  • Try not to park next to a van, as you can be pulled in through the sliding door.
  • Don't leave valuables in plain sight inside your car.
  • Give only ignition key to attendant.
  • If you see an accident or stranded motorist, report it from the nearest telephone instead of stopping.
  • Carry in your car, a flashlight, flares, fix-a-flat, maps, comfortable warm clothing, first aid kit, empty gas can, white cloth to tie to antenna to signal distress, cellular phone.
  • Learn basic auto maintenance.

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How to Help Prevent a Carjacking

  • Keep doors locked and windows shut.
  • Don't stop to assist a disabled motorist. Instead contact a service station or police.
  • When stopped at a light, leave enough room between you and the car in front that you could make an escape.
  • Be suspicious of anyone approaching the car with fliers, asking for change or directions. Be ready to leave carefully, even if it means running a red light or stop sign.
  • While driving, if struck from behind or in any suspicious way, stay in your vehicle with the doors locked and windows closed until the police arrive. Activate your vehicle's emergency flashers.
  • If you're very suspicious, get the other vehicle's license number and drive to the nearest police station or a well-lighted area with lots of people.
  • If you think you are being followed, drive immediately to an area with lots of lights and people. If possible, drive to the nearest law enforcement office.
  • If a car-jacker successfully gets in to your vehicle, GET OUT and run.

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How to Help Protect Yourself in a Parking Garage

  • If you must leave a key with a parking attendant, leave only your vehicle's ignition key. Do not leave anything attached to it with your name and address or other keys.
  • Don't park next to a van's sliding door.
  • Always have your cellphone with you and in your hand, and ensure the battery is fully charged.
  • Change from high heels to low flats or even sneakers when leaving work because they are better to run in.
  • At night, leave your office or building in the company of others. Don't leave alone after dark. If possible, have someone from your building security escort you, or call for police assistance.
  • Approach your vehicle with your keys already in your hand.
  • Look around your vehicle for any suspicious activity. If you see someone loitering around your vehicle, walk past until they leave.
  • Do a quick scan of your vehicle's interior before unlocking the door. Be sure to look in the back seat.
  • Keep your doors locked and your windows shut.
  • Be suspicious of anyone approaching your vehicle, whether passing out leaflets or asking for donations. Always leave the car windows up.

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While on the Street

  • Plan your route and avoid short cuts through parks, vacant lots, or dimly lit areas.
  • Walk near the curb and away from alleys and doorways.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, cross the street; go to the nearest home, service station, or open business premises to call the police.
  • Don't hitchhike.
  • Be very careful using outside ATMs at night or in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • When on the street, walk facing oncoming traffic. It will be harder for someone to pull you into a car and abduct you.
  • Tell someone where you'll be and what time you're supposed to return, or if you will be with someone you don't know well.
  • Try to not overload yourself with packages. If you must have your hands full, visualize how you would respond if approached, how you would get your hands free, etc.
  • Do not wear music headphones while walking or jogging.
  • Do not read while walking or standing on the street.
  • If you wear a purse with a shoulder strap, be prepared to let it go if snatched. Otherwise you may be hurt if the mugger knocks you down and drags you while fleeing with your purse.
  • If someone asks you for directions, and if you choose to reply, remain at least two arms lengths away.
  • Clogs, high heels, and tight skirts are hard to run and fight in. Capes, scarves, and long necklaces are easy to grab. Modify your fashion style, or wear comfortable clothing when walking alone (change into dress-up clothes later), or think through how you would fight in your dress-up clothes (for example, kicking off your high heels or hiking your skirt up around your hips before starting to run or kick)
  • Avoid being on the street alone if you are upset or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or have someone go with you.
  • When dropping someone off at their home, make sure they are safely inside before driving away. Have them do the same for you.

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Personal Defense Against Dogs

  • When confronted by a threatening dog, our impulse is often to turn and run. This is the worst response since movement triggers the “chase instinct” in dogs.
  • Do not be scared (they can “sense” fear).
  • Stand very still and try to be calm.
  • Don’t scream at the dog and run.
  • Be aware of where the dog is. Look in its general direction, but don’t stare into its eyes. This is considered an aggressive challenge.
  • Let the dog sniff you.
  • In a low voice say, "No! Go home!"
  • Stay still until the dog leaves.
  • Back away slowly until it's out of sight.
  • If a dog does attack, try to "feed" it your workout jacket, bike equipment (briefcase, purse) to distract the dog while you back slowly away towards safety. If all else fails, kick the dog in its throat area as hard as you can.
  • If you are knocked down or fall, curl into a ball and keep your hands over your ears, face, and neck. Try not to scream or roll around.

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When Using Public Transportation

  • Try to avoid isolated bus stops.
  • Sit near the driver.
  • If someone bothers you, tell the driver immediately.
  • Beware of overheard conversations. Do not tell anyone on the bus or subway where you are going.
  • Stay awake and alert.
  • Have exact change ready.
  • If you sense someone is following you when you get off, walk toward a populated area. Do not walk directly home.

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While in Public Places

  • Use caution in conversations with strangers. Avoid giving your name, address, or place of employment.
  • In theatres, avoid dark corners and sit near the aisle.
  • ALWAYS be aware of your location and your surroundings

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Defense Against Purse Snatching

  • Do not carry large sums of money in your purse.
  • If possible, carry a small purse, tucked away from view, under the arm. Best advice
  • Wear a fanny pack to carry valuables.
  • Be wary of approaching strangers.
  • If someone grabs your purse, do not resist.
  • Keep your credit card information and credit card company contact information in a safe but readily-accessible place so you can immediately cancel your credit cards if they are stolen.

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Baby Sitting

  • Ensure you know who is babysitting for you. If the person is not well-known to you, conduct a background check before you trust them with your children and your home.
  • Leave information with your family about baby-sitting location, phone number, and time expected home.
  • Once inside the house, lock all doors and windows.
  • If you hear strange noises outside the house, call the police.
  • Be escorted home after dark.

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Physical Assault

No one method of prevention is completely effective in every situation. Allowing yourself to consider what you would do if attacked may be the best preparation. Also consider the following suggestions:

  • Lock your doors and windows in your car and at home.
  • Always have your cellphone with you and ensure the battery is fully charged.
  • Don't open your door to strangers; require identification of all service personnel.
  • Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Always walk in well-lit areas and walk assertively.
  • Avoid dark sidewalks and areas.
  • Avoid walking close to recessed doorways when walking down the sidewalk at night.
  • Don't fill your arms with packages, always keep an arm and one hand free whenever possible.
  • Travel with a companion or in groups when out of town or in unfamiliar neighborhoods and settings.
  • Hitchhiking can be dangerous. If you must hitchhike try to travel in pairs and be cautious with whom you accept a ride.
  • If you are attacked, talk with the attacker to show sympathy, deal with him/her as a person; force the attacker to see you as a person and not an object. If anything you do or say makes the attacker more violent stop doing it!
  • Do not fight against a weapon-your life is most important. Remember
  • fighting escalates violence.
  • If you are carrying firearms, the attacker could gain control of the gun and use it against you.
  • As a last resort you may use physical resistance. Without warning strike the groin, eyes, or the Adam's apple of the attacker. Don't try to defeat the attacker.  Just break free and run! Scream and yell "FIRE", "FIRE", "FIRE" instead of help.
  • Run to the nearest residence or business. Cries for help can discourage criminals and may result in their arrest.
  • If you choose to physically resist, take advantage of any “weapons” you may have such as a purse or umbrella.
  • Attempt to determine points of identification such as clothing, glasses, scars, hair color and height. Call the police immediately.
  • The choice of whether or not to physically resist attack can only be made by you. If the assailant is armed, your options are limited. There is no way to predict an attacker's actions.
  • NEVER get into a car with an attacker. You have a much higher chance of being killed if you get in a car with an attacker versus running away.


You want to avoid physical confrontation at all costs. Try to talk yourself out of a situation. If you can't, here are some points to keep in mind:

      • Be willing to act. Your chance for success is determined by your attitude. If you act then you must give 110% effort.
      • Be a difficult target and do not be an easy victim. Shout, resist, fight scream. Statistics show that 60% of women attacked escape unharmed by merely screaming. NEVER give up!
      • Use the element of surprise. Your attacker does not expect effective resistance. Move quickly and keep using defensive tactics until you can get away.
      • Develop self-confidence. Believe in your own ability to use simple self-defense techniques. Practice so that your response becomes automatic.
      • Do not hesitate. Once you are forced to defend yourself, use everything available to you. Shout, scream, strike, kick, throw something, and bite. If you start a defense, finish it. A half-hearted attempt may only provoke the attacker further. Remember 110% effort only.
      • Do not panic. If you cannot control yourself, you cannot control the situation.
      • Always think escape. Remember you are not fighting to win; you are fighting to get away and survive.

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Martial Arts and Self Defense

  • Learning how to physically defend yourself is an advantage that can benefit you during a physical assault. It can provide you with confidence and skills.
  • There is a clear difference between Martial Arts and Self-Defense. Self-defense courses are usually designed to provide instruction in a few techniques that can be learned quickly and can be used against an attacker. It can also result in over-confidence, which may lead to negative consequences. While techniques learned in a few sessions can be an advantage, it may not be sufficient to fight a hardened criminal.
  • Martial Arts on the other hand are divided into two distinct categories. The "Traditional" and the "Modern Sport". The modern sport focuses on physical skill in conjunction with modern views on fitness and competition. The traditional systems are usually based on combative schools with long lineage rooted in Asia. The traditional approach focuses on the development of body, character and has a strong base in developing the mind through meditation and other practices. It takes diligence and commitment to master martial arts.

If you are contemplating in taking a martial arts course, you should evaluate the following

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Domestic Travel Security Tips


  • Keep arrivals/departures and itineraries as confidential as possible-inform only close friends, relatives or business associates as necessary.
  • Cancel newspaper, mail and other deliveries. Arrange for lawn mowing and driveway snow plowing while you're away.
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor check home periodically for any suspicious signs.
  • Set timers to automatically turn on and off lights and radios at varied times during the day and night to give home a lived-in look.
  • Have a neighbor occasionally park a car in your driveway to give the appearance that someone is home.


  • Stay between floors three and seven in any hotel. This primary reason to stay on at least the third floor is because it is difficult for burglars to break in to your room from the outside at the third floor and above. Not staying above the seventh floor seven is critical for fire safety reasons. Ladder trucks cannot extend their ladders above floor seven. So, if you stay on floor eight or above, you likely will not be able to escape out of your room’s window should you become trapped inside your room by a fire.
  • Upon entering your hotel room, check windows and the location of fire exits and fire extinguishers. Always keep your windows and doors locked.
  • Use the hotel safe to store personal valuables such as money, traveler’s checks or airline tickets. Get a receipt for them.
  • Leave a light on, or a radio or television playing at a normal volume when you are out of your room. If the room appears to be occupied, would-be burglars will be deterred from breaking in.
  • When in a hotel, do not answer the phone with your name.

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Safety Tips for International Travel

  • Select the largest aircraft available, as they are more difficult to seize and control.
  • Avoid traveling first class. This area is frequently used as a hijacker command post.
  • Take direct flights to your destination; it reduces your exposure odds to terrorist activity.
  • Use your name and business address on luggage tags, but avoid company identification.
  • Avoid aisle seats; they make you more vulnerable to the attacks of a hijacker.
  • Travel light and lock your luggage. Avoid expensive or conspicuous luggage.
  • Take only essential identification with you (i.e., passport, driver’s license). Carry business cards in your luggage versus on your person. Keep your passport with you at all times.
  • Don't carry a large amount of cash, sensitive or classified information.
  • Avoid large crowds at airports and move as quickly as possible to an area beyond the first security checkpoint.
  • Maintain a low profile.
  • Avoid business suits; dress casually.
  • With travelling to any country, ensure the U.S. Embassy in that county has your itinerary in advance of your trip.
  • Know how to ask for U.S. Embassy personnel, the police, or a doctor in the language of the country you are visiting.
  • Know how to use local pay telephones.
  • Always have some foreign currency available upon your arrival.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and a possible means of exit at all times.

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