Personal Safety Tips for an Internet-Connected World

Published: Dec 23, 2015 at 08:01 UTC

For years, you’ve been told to be wary of your surroundings and never meet with strangers alone. While these are still very good tips to abide by, the world is changing every day, and these changes require us to think about personal safety in different terms.

What’s Your Level of Personal Safety Awareness?

When you were told to be wary around strangers a decade ago, your parents, friends and other loved ones were most likely referring to people you might meet at a bar, the gas station or on a blind date.

These days, it seems like we come in close contact with strangers multiple times a day and never think twice. They’re behind you at your favorite coffee shop, in chat rooms or message boards and on sites like Craigslist and Facebook.

Do you keep your guard up around these strangers as you would the man crossing on the opposite side of the street late at night? If you’re like most, the answer is probably not. So what makes these people different from the ones you know you’re supposed to watch out for? In most cases, it’s absolutely nothing.

Updated Personal Safety Tips for Our New World

The biggest difference between the strangers of yesterday and the strangers of today are that todays don’t fit the typical profile. Rather than being scary, suspicious and possibly dangerous, today’s strangers are friendly, outgoing and frankly, quite ordinary.

They’re the people who send you friend requests on Facebook, who offer to sell you a stroller on Craigslist and who chat you up as you wait for coffee.

TIP 1 – Always know who you are talking to. And if you don’t, watch what you say. Internet relationships, such as those you form with people in chatrooms or on Facebook, are typically harmless. However, you can set yourself up for danger if you don’t censor yourself around strangers.

Telling a new Facebook “friend” that you’re going on vacation or announcing on Twitter that you’ve purchased an expensive new television are just two ways that you can inadvertently invite trouble. Many times, the audiences on these mediums are much greater than you realize, so you never quite know who is reading and then holding on to that information for nefarious purposes, such as burglarizing your home.

TIP 2 – Take advantage of today’s newest personal safety devices. If you’re like nearly everyone, you’ve got a smartphone and you carry it nearly everywhere. Transform your cell into a personal safety product by downloading a mobile app that’s designed to keep you safe. Some apps, such as bSafe and Circle of 6, are completely free to download and use. With these two apps, you can designate emergency contacts who will be notified if you press an alarm, fail to check in at a specific time or don’t get to your destination when you’re supposed to.

Other apps, such as ADT’s Canopy, are paid programs, but they offer greater benefits, such as one-touch 911 dialing and integration with your home security system.

TIP 3 – Invest in a home security system. A recent study conducted by the FBI revealed that homes without a security system are three times more likely to be burglarized. If you’ve been going without security systems because you think they’re too expensive, it’s time you reconsider. Today’s wireless security systems are extremely affordable, and you can set them up yourself.

Another huge benefit of wireless security systems is that they can be integrated with your mobile devices and various appliances and electronics around your home. When you invest in products like these, you can control your air conditioner, window shades, lights, security system and other appliances directly from your mobile device.

What’s the benefit here? Some include being able to turn on exterior lights when you’re coming home late, drawing curtains when no one is home and setting your home’s alarm from anywhere in the world.

TIP 4 – Always, always, always lock your windows, doors and other entry points, whether you’re at home or heading out. Don’t think that because you have a safety app on your phone or a security system guarding your home that you can afford to be a little careless with simple things like door locks. Security alarms will scare away intruders who break in, but they will do little to deter burglars if the crook is able to waltz right in.

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