Each year, both the college students and our younger generations go back to school.   This is a time of transition, change and sometimes uncertainty.  This creates opportunities for those who commit crimes to find potential victims so it’s also a time that parents and individuals must maintain their focus on safety for themselves AND their family.

Lincoln and Omaha have both always been considered great cities and communities to raise a family and to simply be a part of.

However, we cannot allow our overall satisfaction lull us into a false sense of security or we may become one of the statistics in dealing with crime and violence.  Each year you can find many different reports an statistics on crime such as:

• Chances of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime: Lincoln=1 in 22….in Omaha it’s 1 in 21

• General violent crime rates are down slightly in Nebraska, but the number of reported rapes continues to increase. In 2011, it was the highest number in at least the last 10 years (18% higher than 2010).

• Other sexual offenses, which might include sexual assault, also increased five percent from 2010 to 2011.

No matter what the odds are…..when you or someone you love becomes the “1” in the 1 in XX statistic, suddenly the numbers aren’t so relevant.  So then the question is, what can YOU do to lower your risk.  Ultimately, we each have to take responsibility for our own safety.  This does not mean become a vigilante, but rather take the critical and legal steps to provide for your safety.

Below are 3 very simple things you can do today to improve your safety and that of your family.  These may seem too simple, but I’m willing to bet that over 80% of people reading this article violate at least one of these.

1. Get your (and your family’s) eyes off your cell phone!  I’m not just talking about when driving, but even walking.  This is how violent people just “appear out of no where”….they didn’t “just appear”, people don’t pay attention and it’s impossible to do so with your head buried in a cell phone.  You may as well hang a sign over your head that says “easy potential victim right here.”  Pay attention on purpose, as if your life depends on it…because it does!

2. Close the garage doors and lock all other doors!  August is still hot, and so often people leave their garage doors open (partially or completely) and are in and out of the house so much that doors are often left unlocked too.   This is incredibly dangerous.  Most people don’t lock the door between their house and the garage and so this is easy access.  On top of this, the story book version of bad guys breaking in at night is completely false.  Bad guys walk in your front door during the day and it looks completely normal to others to see “someone” entering.  This is the same thing for dorm rooms for college students…..don’t make it easy to get robbed or surprised by a home intruder.

3. Take a class or seminar!  There are many types of classes and seminars that can teach you how to protect yourself.  Learning how to scan properly, how to identify and deal with potentially dangerous individuals or situations, how to escape from someone grabbing you, how to use a firearm or bladed weapon safely and effectively, and even how to put your hands on someone to ensure that you and your loved ones make it home that night—these are all valuable skills or tools to have in your toolbox for when you need them.  Learning about safety isn’t being paranoid, it’s being proactive and protective of those who matter most to us. If confronted with violence or danger, do you have an answer?  If not, it’s time to start thinking and taking actions now.

For additional information on Health, Safety and Wellness contact Jeff Dousharm at JDousharm@windstream.net.