July 27, 2012

(UPDATED) Better paranoid than sorry ~

Hey lovelies,

Today I had initially wanted to talk about a product, or share a new purchase with you.

But in light of everything that has been going on in Kuala Lumpur recently - all the frightening mugging/ kidnapping/ robbing/ slashing - I thought I'd dedicate this post to sharing a few pointers on how we can all keep ourselves a little safer.

These incidences in the last month or so seem to have particularly targeted women. The first in the list in just the last few weeks was one where a woman was abducted (with a knife held to her neck) in the carpark of a mall which many, myself included, had always felt rather safe in. Not quite, apparently.

Since then there have been a string of other attacks.

So while I'm not trying to sound too paranoid-ish (or scare anyone from visiting Malaysia), here are some thoughts and ideas which I thought might come in handy.

(Note: This might be really wordy.. so do bear with me.)

1. Stay alert - This is, really, the golden rule. By staying alert, usually about half the battle is won. By staying alert and walking confidently, you are no longer giving would-be attackers the vibe that you are a potential victim. Staying alert means knowing exactly where you're walking to, and taking note of your surroundings around you. Look back and around you so you know who are the people who are around you. That means no talking on your phone while you walk, and no texting while you walk. And please, that FB update, it can most certainly wait. Unless you're willing to bet your life on it.

2. Think ahead - In my line of work, I've had to run around a lot to some really strange places and sometimes at really odd hours. And one tip I've learned is to think ahead. That under-the-bridge parking that cost a fraction of that hotel parking might look fairly decent at 2pm, but what if your event ends only at 8pm? Thinking ahead ensures you foresee potential problems, and spending a few extra Ringgit might save your life.

3. Know your routes - Whether you're driving or walking, it's always good to familiarise yourself with the roads of where you'll be. Knowing alternative routes comes in handy so you hopefully won't be walking or driving around in circles if one route is closed, which can be dangerous if the area is rather deserted, more so at night.

4. Look out for each other - Of late, whenever I hang out with my friends, we always make it a point to make sure everyone gets to their car safely in the carpak after the meet-up. Sometimes we plan ahead and all park at about the same area, but that's not always possible. Alternatively, we all get into one car which then goes around dropping the others off at their cars.

5. Don't be shy - If you need help, ask for it. Whilst it's recommended to always get help from the security guards, the issue is that many of them have the problem of a language barrier. So alternatively, if your car is parked rather far away or you feel you're being followed, double back into the mall and approach a family, or even couples (who look trustworthy), and ask them if you can walk with them. With what's been going on lately, I think most people wouldn't mind it. Even animals know this - safety in numbers! (This idea came from my mom, and I think it's brilliant.)

6. Trust your gut-feel - It's hard to explain this but I've had the experience where sometimes my gut just tells me to not walk on a certain street, or to take a different route, and I usually follow it. It's definitely helped me at least once, or I might have been a victim of snatch theft yet again (first occasion was in Bangkok). I was crossing a lane from a row of shops to another row of shops near where I live, when I thought it'd be faster if I cut across on the road directly to my car. As I was crossing the lane, I saw a motorcycle coming towards me with two guys on it. Gut told me to keep to the shops (which were a couple of steps higher than the road) and so I did. And boy I was glad I did. When they got closer, I saw both had helmets with full opaque visors down, AND they were looking at me and followed me. Against traffic. I looked directly at them, and then walked straight into one of the shops. Trust your gut, ladies.

7. Get to know your police - Yes, I know this is a rather strange tip. If you're a Malaysian, you'll know why. BUT. I recently had to lodge a police report, and this was the advice I got. Get the number of the Bilik Gerakan Polis of your residential area and put it on speed dial. This is the centre where all patrol units are despatched so if you're calling them directly, they will be able to despatch a patrol unit to wherever you are (within that area) super quick. I was told that patrol units have reached callers in less than 10 minutes (which sounds pretty impressive). At least, this is ideal. I have not had to call them before *touch wood*, but I'm keeping mine on speed dial anyway. If you live in Subang, this is the number you want: 03-78627100.

(UPDATED) Thanks to Kahani's comment on FB, that reminded me of two more thoughts which I had originally wanted to share, but forgot. No matter.

8. Mind where you walk - You know how sometimes you walk between vehicles in the carpark to get to your car? I've recently started avoiding walking between larger vehicles, such as SUVs or MPVs. Particularly if they're heavily tinted. Imagine how easy it would be for someone to just open the door and pull you in while you walk past. I know this sounds paranoid, but ah well... can't be too careful these days.

9. Beware what you tweet - Or post on FB, for that matter. Don't say stuff like "I'm home all alone tonight. Everyone's out." I've had the notion to post stuff like that before, but managed to check myself in time. Updating friends on what you're doing is fine, but there is no sense in putting yourself at risk. You never know which freak is reading your updates, and if he knows where you live.

These are some of the tips I can think of, and I do hope they're helpful. If you have more tips, please do share them in the comments!

Stay safe lovelies, and have a great weekend!


Askmewhats said...

Agree agree agree! Especially down here too! I'm always alert and never would I be daydreaming when I'm outside!

P.S. on Trusting your gut feel..this is sooo true! thanks for this!!!

Annette said...

Very sound advices.... Especially staying alert while walking. Look around all the time, slow down from time to time to get bearing on your surrounding, then walk rapidly again. Walk where people can't wall you in easily or snatch your bag from the road. Put your car key in between your knuckles and be prepared to stick it in a neck or lash out (mentally prepare for the possibility, hesitation might reduce your chances), make sure the key is visible too. In essence, show a little aggression in your body language. I even go a step further and look at questionable looking lads in the lift when I am alone. Always be sure to have a weapon handy. Heavy grocery bags are great for bashing heads. And this is another important tip: LOCK CAR DOORS AFTER YOU GET IN. IMMEDIATELY. This actually occurred to me. A man tried to open my door after I got in and was in the middle of settling something. Luckily the door was locked. He didn't even tap on window to get my attention first! Anyway, I scrolled down the window about a couple inches and asked him what does he want. Said his bike broke down and if I would be so kind to give him a lift to his mechanic. Yeah, right. I said no. He pleaded. I offered to call his mechanic for him, but he looked frustrated. In the end, I pointed him to a nearby hair salon and asked him to use their phone. In this case, preventive measures helped, as are gut feelings.

Great post! I like the look out for each other point. And walking with another family. Thanks for posting.

Syen said...

Nikki: Yeah... I guess the same rules apply wherever we are. =)

Annette: Hello! Goodness! Good thing you were quite sharp and had not allowed him into your car. I seriously doubt he would still need to "go to the mechanic" had you given him a ride. *shivers* Thanks for the comment!

Kahani said...

Great PSA Syen, I have to admit my Facebook feed is scaring me with stories from Malaysia. =(

Syen said...

Thanks babe. That reminds me of two more tips, actually. I'll update the post.

Joey said...

Very good tips. The Star had a couple of good articles the past couple of weeks and I'm really taking extra precaution when I'm out and about.