EDITORIAL: Take precautions always

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

News of a sexual assault that occurred last month at the Antrim Township Community Park is not only frightening and sad for our community, but it also provides the call for an important reminder about safety. While statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Women’s Health shows that in 2005 most female sexual assault victims were assulted by someone they knew, 26 percent were assaulted by a stranger. We don’t know the circumstances of the assault last month, but we do believe that caution in public places is as important as ever. We don’t want to alarm anyone, however you can never be too safe.

The National Center for Victims of Crime offers the following tips on “How can I lower my risk of sexual assault?”

There are things you can do to reduce your chances of being sexually assaulted. Follow these tips from the National Crime Prevention Council.

* Be aware of your surroundings — who’s out there and what’s going on.

* Walk with confidence. The more confident you look, the stronger you appear.

* Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol.

* Be assertive — don’t let anyone violate your space.

* Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, leave.

* Don’t prop open self-locking doors.

* Lock your door and your windows, even if you leave for just a few minutes.

* Watch your keys. Don’t lend them. Don’t leave them. Don’t lose them. And don’t put your name and address on the key ring.

* Watch out for unwanted visitors. Know who’s on the other side of the door before you open it.

* Be wary of isolated spots, like underground garages, offices after business hours, and apartment laundry rooms.

* Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.

* Have your key ready to use before you reach the door — home, car, or work.

* Park in well-lit areas and lock the car, even if you’ll only be gone a few minutes.

* Drive on well-traveled streets, with doors and windows locked.

* Never hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker.

* Keep your car in good shape with plenty of gas in the tank.

* In case of car trouble, call for help on your cellular phone. If you don’t have a phone, put the hood up, lock the doors, and put a banner in the rear mirror that says, “Help. Call police.”