Safety and vigilance

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I come from a family of worriers. They worry more about me than I do. While this drives me crazy, I realize it comes from the right place. However if I worried as much as they do, I’d never go out and do anything. As a disabled person, it can be worrisome to go out and experience life sometimes, but I’ve found the ability to do this using a few different strategies.

1. Be careful

This might seem obvious, but many people I know are not careful at all. They don’t pay attention to what they are doing. They make risky decisions. They generally aren’t focused on maintaining their well being. If you make the decision to be careful, then it’s possible to always be “better safe than sorry.”

2. When dealing with cars, make eye contact with the drivers.

There is no more effective way to communicate with a driver than to make eye contact. If you make eye contact with a driver, you can be assured they see you. I always make eye contact when crossing a street, rolling past a driveway, or navigating  a parking lot. Absolutely do not assume a driver is going to stop. Sometimes it’s easy to assume a driver is going to stop because you would stop if you were them. But you have no way of knowing that they see you unless you make eye contact.

3. When dealing with people, use your instincts.

If you suddenly get that uncomfortable feeling about someone you see near you or ahead on your path, there is nothing wrong with making a detour, or even turning around. Do not ignore your gut. Your brain’s instinctive reaction to a situation might kick in at any time. Pay attention to it. Making a detour that costs you a few minutes is always better than getting into a situation that might be harmful.

4. Don’t take much with you and create a decoy stash.

If you worry about being robbed, then don’t take much along with you when you go out. Bring your ID and some cash and/or a credit card, along with your phone. If you are overly concerned about this then leverage the various pockets and things that you have on your wheelchair, if you use a chair, to hide your things. Put some money in a separate location. Then if someone says “Give me all your money!” then pull from this decoy stash and give it to them. Hopefully they’ll be on their way and leave you with your important things.

5. Be careful!

I reiterate this because your safety is more in your control than you realize! Make logical and safe decisions. Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t go to bad parts of town by yourself and don’t go out late at night alone. Be careful!

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