TIPS FOR PERSONAL SAFETY

April 22nd, 2010

Violent crime in Seattle is one of the lowest for cities of its size.  And “Stranger Danger,” one of the most frightening types of reports in the news, is actually one of the rarest types of crimes.  With that said, there are no guarantees that you will never become a victim of violent crime.  However, there are some basic, sensible and easy to follow precautions that can lessen your chances of this type of encounter.

 GENERAL SAFETY TIPS

  • Follow your intuition.  Pay close attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger.  “Trust your Gut.”  If you feel that a situation is not right, move out of the situation.  Trusting your own instincts that a situation feels “wrong” can be the best personal safety tool you have.  Don’t be afraid to cross the street, return to a business or ask for help based on that “funny feeling.”  You may be right.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  In social situations, be alert to places and situations that make you vulnerable.  Know who is nearby or who may be following you.
  • Walk confidently and alertly.  Avoid walking alone and using shortcuts.
  • Walk with others and stay on paths that are well lit where you can easily see and be seen.
  • Carry your valuables safely.  Don’t display items (e.g., I-pods, cash, phones), when walking to and from your destination.

 BEING SAFE ON THE BUS OR LIGHT RAIL

  • Maintain situational awareness on the bus, train and at transit stops.
  • While waiting for public transportation, keep your back close to a wall (or pole) so that you cannot be surprised from behind.
  • Don’t use or flash valuables like IPODS on the bus or train.
  • If there is a problem on the bus or train, notify the driver and/or call 911.
  • If someone is bothering you on the bus or train, notify the driver
  • If few people are on the bus or train, sit near the driver.
  • Use the transit schedules to minimize the length of time waiting for the bus or train.
  • Keep your purse, shopping bag, backpack, packages, etc., in your lap, on your arm, or between your feet — not by themselves on an empty seat.
  • Don’t let yourself doze off on the bus or train; it can make you an easy target.
  • If you feel uneasy about getting off at your usual stop, stay on until the next stop.
  • Guard transit passes like cash or other valuables (the school is not entitled to give you a new one if your is lost or stolen).

 BEING SAFE ON THE STREET

  • Know your routes.  Notice lighting, alleys, abandoned buildings, and street people.
  • If you are being followed or you see a person or group further down the street that makes you feel uncomfortable, cross the street, walk in another direction, or ask other people walking if you may walk a short distance with them.
  • Pick out places that you consider safer, places where you can either make a stand or reassure yourself that you are not being followed (i.e., lit porches, bus stops, stores, etc.).
  • Walk near the curb and away from buildings, trees, and shrubbery, which can hide potential threats.
  • When walking to your home or apartment, carry your house keys in your hand.  Don’t stand in a doorway and fumble in your purse or pocket for your keys.  Have them ready to use.
  • Always dress so that your movements are not restricted.

IF YOU ARE CONFRONTED

  • It may seem like a good idea to tell a robber that you have no money, but this technique may backfire. It is safer to give up a few dollars. Carry a little money separate from your other funds in an accessible place.
  • If someone demands your property and displays or implies in any way that they have a weapon, don’t resist.  Physical property isn’t worth getting injured or killed over.
  • If someone tries to grab you, make a scene. Scream, kick, fight . . . do what you can to get away and attract attention.

 TALKING ABOUT GUNS

The frequent results of youth and guns are assault, injury and murder.  You can change that. 

  • If you ever see someone carrying a gun or has a gun on school campus – report it immediately.
  • If you find a gun – do not handle it.  You and the other students must stay away from it.  Report what you have seen immediately to school security, a teacher or school staff.
  • If you see a person with a gun – quickly and quietly walk the other way.  Report it immediately.  Call 9-1-1 and/or text CrimeStoppers anonymously.

 MAKE YOUR SCHOOL SAFER – WHAT YOU AS STUDENTS CAN DO

  • First, know that your safety should be your number one priority.
  • Learn and practice ways of settling conflicts, disagreements and arguments in non-threatening, non-violent ways.
  • Be respectful of others.
  • Report all crimes and suspicious activities to school staff and police.

 REPORTING CRIME

 POLICE – FIRE – MEDICAL EMERGENCIES: 9-1-1

Call 9-1-1 . . .

  • When you have a police, fire or medical emergency.
  • To report a crime.
  • When there is a situation that poses an actual or potential danger to life or property.
  • When there is suspicious activity.

IN SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

  • Seattle Public Schools Safe Schools Anonymous Hotline: 206-252-0510
  • Seattle Public Schools Security Office: 206-252-0707

CRIMESTOPPERS: TEXT-A-TIP or CALL TIPLINE (206-343-2020)

  • If you know of a crime, call or text the information 24/7. 
  • Tipsters remain completely anonymous.
  • Here is how to text the information you have about a crime:
    • Send text to “C-R-I-M-E-S” or “2-7-4-6-3-7”
    • Begin your message by typing “T-I-P-4-8-6”
    • Type your message about the crime.
    • Press “SEND” when completed.
  • Within 15 seconds, you will receive a pin number confirming receipt of the information.
  • Be assured that tipsters remain completely anonymous and continue to remain anonymous even when receiving a pin number on your cell phone that confirms receipt of the information.
  • If your tip leads to an arrest and filing of charges, you may qualify for a reward.
  • Further picture and audio instructions on how to use the Text-a-Tip hotline are available at www.crimestoppers-ps.com

This article was generously provided by Mark Solomon, Crime Prevention Coordinator of the Seattle Police Department’s South Precinct

It’s Allergy Season!

April 6th, 2010

Do your eyes feel watery and itchy?  Are you sneezing and congested?  If so, you may be one of the more than 50 million people in the United States whose respiratory tracts overacts to pollens that are widespread this time of year.  This condition, known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, can make studying pretty difficult when these nasty symptoms interfere.  So what’s a student to do?  For starters, if you know you have allergic rhinitis, you can visit your health care provider to see if medications that inhibit inflammatory responses are appropriate for you.  Sometimes cool compresses placed over the eyes can relieve symptoms.  Trying to avoid allergy triggers such as dust, grasses, and pollens, is also important.  Some people find good relief with certain medications.  Check with your health care provider to see if medication might be appropriate for you.  If you don’t have a health care provider, we’re always happy to take care of you here at the Teen Health Center!  Just come by and pick up a registration form, have your parent sign it and you’re all set to have your health care provided right here at school.

Prescription drug dangers

April 6th, 2010

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS:  KNOW THE FACTS!!

Did you know that in Washington State, there are more deaths each year from prescription drug abuse than from meth, cocaine, and heroin combined?  Students often think that because painkillers are prescribed by doctors that they are safe.  This is not true!  When not taken as directed, or not taken by the person to whom the drug is prescribed, these drugs can result in liver failure, toxic poisoning, neurological problems, and respiratory problems that can threaten your life.  The level of abuse of prescription drugs in our state makes it more likely that you or a loved will die from a drug overdose than from a car crash.

The Problem

Teens often experiment with drugs and/or alcohol as part of their social development.  Some people experiment because they think it will help them have more fun, lose weight, fit in, and even study more effectively.  Some people think that prescription drugs are safer and less addictive than street drugs; after all, these are drugs that moms, dads, and even kid brothers and sisters use.  Other people who try prescription drugs think they’re not doing anything illegal because these drugs are prescribed by doctors.  But taking drugs without a prescription – or sharing a prescription drug with friends – is actually breaking the law.

The Culprits and Their Effects

The leading types of drugs that students are using include painkillers, such as those drugs prescribed after surgery; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, such as those used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Some teens are also abusing over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as cough and cold remedies, and inhalants that put chemicals into your lungs.  

About 40 percent of 12th graders say that painkillers are fairly or very easy to get, and more than half say the same of stimulants.  This means that you very likely to know someone who is either using or distributing these drugs.  The names and some side effects of the most commonly used drugs are:

  • Painkillers: Vicodin, Tylenol with Codeine, OxyContin, Percocet.  These drugs can cause constricted pupils, nausea, vomiting, and respiratory depression (inadequate ventilation)
  • Depressants: Klonopin, Nembutal, Soma, Valium, Xanax.  These drugs can cause slurred speech, dizziness, respiratory depression
  • Stimulants: Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, Ritalin, methylphenidate.  These drugs can cause anxiety, delusions, flushed skin, chest pain with heart palpitations
  • OTCs: Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold, Robitussin, Vicks Formula 44, Cough Relief, and others.  Some of these drugs can cause liver damage or respiratory depression.

 

  • OTC drugs can be harmful, even deadly, when used in excess.  They can also be addictive.
  • Using OTC drugs is not cool.  OTC drug use often makes problems worse, not better.
  • ·         Abusing OTC drugs can lead to severe consequences, such as loss of driver’s license, loss of college scholarships, denial of admission into college, and can have a huge impact on future career aspirations.
  • ·         Abusing drugs alters your judgment – you might make bad decisions on drugs that you will later regret.
  • ·         Using drugs and driving can injure or kill you and others.

 

 

What to Do

If you are faced with a situation where someone wants you to use drugs or alcohol, remember that you have the power and the right to say “No.”  Here are some ideas for what to say or do.  You could …

  • calmly say you’re not interested or simply, “No thanks, I’m good.”
  • say you have to go home and don’t want to smell of alcohol or appear to be high.
  • say good friends wouldn’t pressure you to do something you already said you don’t want to do.
  • If you suspect that a friend has taken drugs and that person appears to be asleep and is difficult to wake up, is vomiting or appears to be very ill, call 9-1-1.  You will not get in trouble for helping someone, even if you have used drugs yourself. 
  • If you have more questions about drugs (prescription or not) you can talk confidentially to FHS nurse Robin Fleming.  If you are 14 years of age or older, and you are not going to hurt yourself or others, Nurse Fleming will maintain confidentiality. 
  • If you have drugs (pill or capsule form only) you want to dispose of, Group Health on Rainier Ave. S. has a drop box immediately inside the facility where you can drop them off anonymously.

 

Sources for this article include:

Partnership for a Drug Free America:  http://www.drugfree.org/

National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, Office of National Drug Control Policy: www.TheAntiDrug.com

Washington State Attorney General’s Office:  http://www.atg.wa.gov/prescriptiondrug.aspx

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD): http://www.sadd.org/

This article was written with the generous collaboration and input of Seattle Police Department South Precinct Community Crime Prevention officer Mark Solomon.