Today's installment of our monthly personal safety column penned by Michael Mercer of Michael Mercer Consulting covers dating safety. Mercer is a retired police officer and crime prevention consultant with 30 years of experience preventing crimes against people, businesses, and properties. His offering includes prevention consulting, instructional classes, and educational programs. Mercer is a certified SABRE Personal Safety Academy Instructor.
Dating safety is not only for Valentine's day; it is to be practiced all the time. If you are currently dating, here are some suggestions to keep you as safe as possible.
Meet your date at a public location for the first few dates. Do not give them information about where you live or work, or have them pick you up from your home until you are very comfortable with who you are dating as a friend and companion. Keep in mind that Internet dating can be risky, as it's easy for people to portray something different than who they really are. Take your time and get to know your date before providing them with personal information.
Always carry a cell phone and arrange for a family member or friend to call you once or twice during your date to make sure all is going well.
Before leaving on a date, let someone know where you are going, who you are with, and how you met this person. If you met them online, leave their email/profile info. If you met them through friends, leave the friend’s contact info in case of a problem.
Find out where your date works. Call and check to make sure they do indeed hold a job at that place. If, at any time, you feel or acknowledge that your date has lied, cancel future meetings with them. You deserve to date an honest person.
Never get in a car alone with a new date. Until you get to know them well, they are still a stranger to some degree. Treat them as such.
Don’t use drugs or drink to excess when on a date. You may wind up revealing too much information or pass out, leaving yourself and your posessions vulnerable. While there are precautions you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim, remember that the victim is never at fault for being assaulted.
Be aware of any drinks you may be offered that are not in an unopened bottle. Get your drink directly from the bartender or waiter. Don’t leave your drink unattended. If you must leave, get a new drink when you return. There have been many cases when “club drugs” have been used to incapacitate an unsuspecting date.
Preparing for problems
Keep your vehicle well maintained and the gas tank half full at all times. Keep an extra pair of slacks, shirt, and walking shoes in your car in case you have to walk to a nearby store for assistance.
By keeping your vehicle in good condition, you reduce your chances of being stranded and at the mercy of strangers.
Always carry a cell phone with you and a car charger for it. Know where you are and call police immediately if you feel yourself in danger. If you do not have a cell phone, get a used one from a friend, family member or co-worker, and as long as it has a charge, you can dial 911 without having a service provider.
Learn how to use and alway carry pepper spray. SABRE offers the world's most trusted brand of pepper spray and personal defense products.
Try to find a safety class and/or self-defense program in your community. Michael Mercer Consulting provides several types of personal safety courses. Learning how to defend yourself will give you empowerment and confidence.