Ideas re: staying safe in the States

Discussion in 'Women's Self Defence' started by KarateMum, Apr 18, 2015.

  1. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    Rebel wado (whom I notice posts a location of Seattle) posted on another thread these issues that could be covered in a womens self defence course:

    - Dealing with a sucker punch (dealing with zero to 100% in an instant) such as walking down the street and getting jump by someone just hitting you in the head.
    - Walking to your car and seeing someone suspicious by it (e.g. how to use your fear to empower you rather than panic)
    - Driving and your car breaks down
    - Driving your car on a secluded highway and being pulled over by state patrol/police (what options do you legally have)
    - Selling something online and having the buyers come to your home to pick up the items
    - Waiting for a bus and someone asks you for the time

    I've had other people mention that America is a different culture to what I might be used to. Now I'm a middle aged lady with two younger teens who has never lived in a city (though I've visited plenty by myself on business). I am lucky enough to live in fairly safe area of the UK in the countryside and I've often been accused of not having sufficient experience to be 'streetwise' in a big city - I don't tend to agree with that (and I also did a 12 week self defence course when I was 18). However, there are folks on MAP who are clearly familiar with the States and I was once told in a management course to ask if anyone had advice before I launch into a project.

    The 'project' this year is a visit across the pond - just me and the kids. Visiting with friends in Toronto and then driving (hire car) to Washington to visit with friends there and driving back again to fly home - possibly with overnight stays along the trips. I daresay with some solo sight seeing at each location too. I am looking forward to the road trip to see some of the country. However, I have a friend who determine to rile me with stories regarding the crime rate in the States and how I can easily get into bother. Rebel wado's comments above about potential situations women can find themselves in have fuelled that.

    There is a good audience here - I am confident and with more than a fair dose of common sense. Do I really need to worry if someone asks me the time at a bus stop (or any of those other issues) and is there anything I do really need to know about to stay safe on the trip please?
  2. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    Don't walk through dodgy neighbourhoods alone, late at night. That will cover off 90% of any potential danger.

    If your car breaks down, call for roadside assistance (so know how to do that).
    If the police pull you over, do what you're told.
  3. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    holyheadjch thanks. The behaviour with the Police is one I am quite interested in. If I were to be stopped do I just wind down the window and sit tight until they tell me to do otherwise or will they expect me to get out of the car first?

    Also, with the roadside assistance is it best to stay in the car always? In the UK if you are on the motorway they tell you to leave the car and stand behind the crash barrier for safety. I've checked, and though I will get stung for charges, my mobile should function over there if I am in signal range which is good news if the hire car does give up the ghost.
  4. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    Turn off the engine, wind down the window and stay in the car, they'll tell you to get out if they want you to get out.
    If your car is still in an active lane, I'd get out of it in case someone ploughs into the back of you. If you're well off the road, either on a verge or in a lay-by, then you could stay in the car.
  5. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    Act like how you would whilst in the UK. (unless you go about causing trouble n mayhem, then do the opposite)

    Similar to what Holyhead says, just be generally aware. In the rare instance that Police do stop you, just do what you're told and explain that you're from the UK and may have assimilation issues.

    I've been to the States loads, Baltimore especially the most dangerous place, I walked down 'murder mile' (most murders per square foot). I had friends though who walked down that road everyday for Uni.

    Keep your belongings close. I tend to "dress down" when I travel (although I'm usually in jeans and hoody anyway).
    I always hear stories of tourists being robbed in London and when you see them, they're dressed up with every brand possible.
    My Aunt who lives in London but went to visit her family in Hong Kong got robbed when she wanted "to look her best in the area". Diamond rings/necklaces got taken.

    Stuff like passports, I always store a photocopy (or 3) somewhere just in case.
  6. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    And here in Toronto stay clear of Jane and Finch.

    Glad to hear there will be a MAPer up in my neck of the woods :D
  7. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    My material is somewhat dated.

    KarateMum, the idea around the scenarios for a self-protection training are not set in stone. What I mentioned happened to be based on criminal trends at the time. For example, there were people or person impersonating law enforcement, pulling over women on deserted highways, then raping, robbing, possible murdering them. So law enforcement wanted to make sure that the people in the training course knew the threat and that they were allowed to drive to a public, well lit area to pull over where there would be witnesses. They also had rules about unmarked vehicles, that if pulled over by one you could ask for a marked vehicle to arrive before leaving your vehicle.

    The general guidance on breakdown of car is to not roll down your window all the way, just open enough to talk, to ask they call for help; keep an envelop with quarters in it and instructions on who to call if needed, you can slide the envelop through the gap in the window to the passerby.... etc.

    This is outdated material, now there are better guidelines or technologies around in case of breakdown, like your car calling for help, etc.

    The point was to educate then put students into uncomfortable situations to gain some experience. This does not apply as much for traveling as much as just having awareness and using common sense.

    For traveling, my sister lives in England and came back to visit. She was pulled over for some reason, the officer looked at her international drivers license, but started in the back. I guess it is in Arabic in the back and the officer couldn't read it... went to the next page and again in a different language he could not read. Never got to the English pages and just gave her a warning and let her go. Not exactly a self-defense story, but thought it might be interesting to you.
  8. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    Rebel Wado, Ah, so there is an explanation - what you put now makes much more sense - I like the idea of the envelope with change in for the phone, but as you say, modern tech has helped a lot in that respect. An international driving permit is already on my list of things to obtain :-D At the moment it feels like I'm facing a lot of things to organise, but I have a list and I guess its a case of checking them off one at a time - at the moment I can't get the international permit until within 3 months of the trip so that is on hold.

    Mushroom, I get the dressing down angle. Diamonds taken to Hong Kong - what was your aunt thinking? I have some 'costume' jewellery and if I want to take something for a possible night out when I travel I tend to take that and leave the good stuff at home.

    SWC Sifu Ben - yup - it will be my first time in Canada :-D - so I guess we will probably be on the well trodden tourist routes - mind you those are probably the areas where tourists could also be targets. I hope that the families I am going to visit will help to steer us straight too though.

    I tend to photocopy travel docs. and as well as paper copies I've taken to putting a scanned copy on a Sky Drive on the web - just for the duration I'm away, but where I could print them out from anywhere with web access. Modern tech scores again! Thanks for all the comments. I'll have to gen up on road signage too before I go.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
  9. Moi

    Moi Warriors live forever x

    If it's tourist routes then spread your money and cards about you. You'll be a target for pickpockets as they'll know you're a tourist. It'd be the same in London
  10. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Standard travelling advice.

    My own experiences with americans is they get road rage really really easily, so drive defensively and dont get out unless you have too.

    Buy cheap dumb cellphones and give the kids one each. This is much better then having to find them if you get separated.

    Download maps onto your phone and use them to find your way around without having to use an actual map.

    Give each if the kids spare money, and yourself, and keep it away from your wallet.

    if someone threatens you, give them them your wallet etc.

    hasnt washington got a really bad crime rate?
  11. narcsarge

    narcsarge Masticated Whey

    Welcome to the States! Been as far North as Vermont and as far South as Florida. Grew up 20 minutes outside of Washington D.C. And spent my twenties partying there. I have spent time in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Alexandria, and Orlando. As with all cities, crime can be found. As others have stated, situational awareness, walking about with confidence and purpose, will do you well.

    Our traffic in and around major cities can be intimidating even to us. Remain calm. Let others be aggressive. Stay with the flow of traffic and try not to go more then 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. If stopped by police (I'm a retired cop), hands visible, on the steering wheel. Turn on the light if it is dark. Open the window enough to talk through.

    I love meeting and talking to people from other nations. If you're polite you will have very few issues here. Most hotels and motels have excellent concierge coverage to help. Staying safe will fall to your training and experience.
  12. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Conceal carry if your state permits it.
  13. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    But do not be one of the morons who carries in a handbag underneath a pile of other crap. If you can't find your keys or wallet in a moment at a shop or outside your house, don't expect to be able to find a gun in an adrenaline dumping moment of fear and imminent violence.

    Small peeve I have with concealed carry.
  14. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Any responsible CCW holder will keep his or her weapon in a hip holster.
  15. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    There's responsible CCW holders? :p
  16. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Ha! :)

    There's a video doing the rounds on Facebook of a CCW holder in NYC (probably a cop given their strict handgun laws) drawing on some idiots doing one of those stupid, insensitive pranks for YouTube views.

    The way the pranksters crap themselves is epic.

    I hate pranksters.
  17. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    nacsarge, and others above - many thanks. How to deal with the police is useful - not that I shall go out of my way to attract their attention, but in foreign countries I think we only get the bad news stories about the police in other countries. Consequently we perhaps worry about to deal to with them more than on our own turf.

    I'm glad you mentioned road speed too - I had heard rumours that limits were closely enforced which you confirmed. Someone told me that Toronto and Washington are both bad for traffic - you confirmed this. Luckily I am a confident driver - I spend a lot of time on motorways, inc. our notorious M25 around London, but most of these are only 3-4 lane roads. I have passed an advanced driving test (examined by Police pursuit drivers) and was once told that it would only take 3-4 sessions to bring me up to blues and twos standard to drive an ambulance!! However, road rage is a particular type of situation that I am lucky to have largely avoided so far - I hope I don't encounter it in the States/Canada, but, as you suggest, it is really the other person's problem - though I would sooner not have to deal with it. I am also going to bring my Satnav and a set of paper maps with me (in case the tech. fails).

    Redcoat Ninja - thanks, but I intend staying as far away from weapons as I can. In the UK firearms are not as common as in the States and are very closely controlled. Very few people would ever be allowed to legally carry them in public unless dismantled and even then the gun in parts mustn't be left all in one place. FWIW I do actually know one end of a weapon from the other, but I'd never be comfortable carrying one other than to use in a 'sporting' capacity.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
  18. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Well, that's my fault for skimming most of the thread.

    I assumed you were in the US.
  19. KarateMum

    KarateMum Valued Member

    Redcoat Ninja, not to worry, no harm done, and at least you had taken the time to become involved in the discussion for which I thank you.
  20. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    At all times assume an accent as close to Terry Thomas' as possible.

    PLease post details on how this works :D


    Enjoy your trip and enjoy, all the Americans I've met have been friendly folk I've enjoyed hitting and being hit by. :D

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