March 8, 2016 9:00 am
As we grow into our senior years, our bodies and senses change over time. Changes in hearing, vision, flexibility and mobility all are a natural and unavoidable part of the aging process. But that doesn't mean people with disabilities are incapable of protecting themselves.
It's especially important for people with disabilities to take common sense safety precautions to reduce their vulnerability. If you have a disability or know someone who does, the following safety tips will be helpful to you. Please take the time to read the information: It just may prevent you, a friend or a loved one from becoming a crime victim.
Whenever possible, travel with someone you know. There's strength in numbers.
Have a plan for what you will do if confronted. Show confidence, yell, use a body alarm or whistle or find some other way to make noise.
Be realistic about your limitations. Avoid places or situations that put you at risk, such as dark alleys and unlit parking lots.
- Avoid establishing predictable activity patterns. Most of us have daily routines, but never varying them may increase your vulnerability to crime.
- If you use a wheelchair or other adaptive device, keep money and personal items hidden from view, but easily accessible to you. Use a fanny pack or pocket attached to the wheelchair arm rather than bags attached to the rear of the chair.
- Have emergency phone numbers and a means of contacting emergency assistance available and accessible to you at all times.
- Plan an escape route from each room in your residence to use in case of emergency.
- Make sure doors have peepholes or viewing areas at a level that allows you to view visitors.
- Put good locks on all your doors and windows. Use them while you're home as well when you're out.
- Never open the door for a stranger. Ask for proof of who they are and the purpose of their visit. If you are visually impaired and unable to see the person's official identification, verify by checking the person's identity with their agency.
- Never tell a stranger calling by phone that you are alone or disabled.
- When riding a bus, sit as close to the driver as possible.
- Always carry your medical information in case of an emergency.
- If you have a speech or hearing impairment, carry a card of communication symbols to ensure that you can be understood by others.
- If you have difficulty speaking, have a friend record a message giving your name, address and type of disability to use in emergencies. Keep the tape in a recorder next to your phone.