What to do if you are in a fender bender

June 16, 2017 in car accident, Current News, fender bender, insurance, Missouri, st louis

The following post is from: Safety & Security

It can be scary if you are in an accident, serious or minor. If you haven’t been in one before, it can be a bit confusing to know what to do. Here are 7 tips for what to do in this situation.

  1. Check on yourself and your passengers. If someone is hurt, calling 911 should be your first priority.
  2. Check your surroundings, is it safe to stay where you are? Or should you move to a side street or shoulder on the road?
  3. Once you are in a safe place and if everyone in your car is okay, you should check on anyone else what was involved. But, it is important to not admit guilt or say “sorry”. It is possible the other car involved is trying to commit insurance fraud, and saying “sorry” could be used as an admission of guilt. Just ask, “are you okay?”
  4. Once everyone is checked on, get the other driver’s info. Get their license number, phone number, and insurance information. Get info of witnesses as well. You will also need to give your insurance information, which should be on your insurance card.
  5. Call your insurance company. They will advise you if you should call the police. In Missouri, there are two types of accidents where you are required to call the police (within 30 days of the accident).
    1. If one of the motorists in the accident was uninsured.
    2. If there was a death or injury or more than $500 worth of damage.
  6. Take LOTS of pictures and notes. Take pictures of both cars from all angles, write down the time and place of the accident.
  7. Continue to monitor your condition. Adrenaline rushes can mask symptoms, so keep an eye on yourself and visit your doctor if you don’t feel well.

 

If you are unsure what to do, calling your insurance company can be a big help. Drive safe!

 

Abby Orscheln – Safety & Security Intern


International Travel Safety Tips

May 26, 2017 in crime prevention, Current News, security, tips, travel

The following post is from: Safety & Security

Get a cellphone with free roaming and a global data plan – AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer these plans. Having access to a cellphone can increase security by allowing you to contact people back home, the police, and your embassy.

Hide or turn off your home’s wifi before you leave – depending on your service plan, this may save you money. But it can increase your virtual security while you’re gone and prevent people from using your internet.

Check the government’s travel warnings and alerts – this list provides comprehensive information on crime, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and more. The government also provides resources on ways to stay safe during these travel warnings, such as recommended vaccinations to get and safe places to go.

Leave your major electronics at home – If you can, leave your expensive tablets and laptops at home; they’re likely to be stolen and contain important information, such as your social security number, credit/debit card numbers, and passwords. If you can’t leave your laptop or tablet at home, secure the device before you go by clearing cookies and browsing history on your browser, removing saved passwords, and encrypting important files. Back everything up to the cloud or external storage device so that if something bad happens you do not lose everything. Always assume the wifi available is unsecure and do not visit websites such as bank websites.

Make photo copies of your passport – and keep a copy on your phone, a USB drive, and in your hotel room in case you lose your passport (or it gets stolen). Carry your passport on you; some police security on train stations in Europe will check your passport. Keep it close to your body in an inside jacket pocket. Don’t keep it with your money or debit/credit cards, and don’t wear it in a bag around your neck. Those are easy targets for pickpockets.

Learn some phrases or download a translation app – Make sure you could find your way to a hospital or embassy in case of an emergency. Translation apps can help you communicate with locals who don’t speak English.

 

 


Above and Beyond Tips for Home Protection. How Good is Your Deadbolt?

April 21, 2017 in break ins, burglary, crime, Crime Tips, deadbolt, safety tips, security

The following post is from: Safety & Security

There are many factors that can make your home a better target for burglary than other homes. For example, your house is at greater risk if:

  • It sits on a corner lot (more visible to a browsing burglar and a natural place to stop and ask for directions)
  • It is located close to a major highway exit (less than 1 mile)
  • It is located on a through street, which gives a burglar a quicker escape (dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs are safer)
  • It borders a wooded area or playground (provides concealed access for burglars)
  • It is in a wealthier neighborhood
  • It features no signs of young children living there (burglars avoid as someone may be home)
  • It was recently purchased (burglars know you haven’t yet developed close familiarity with neighbors)

 

What can you do to prevent yourself from being a target or stop a criminal if they try to get in? You probably know some of the more common tips, such as:

  • Install a burglar alarm and/or put up an alarm system sign.
  • Don’t let mail and newspapers build up.
  • Set lights on timers to give the appearance someone is home.
  • Have motion activated exterior lights.
  • Adopt a dog that will make noise if they hear someone attempting to get in.

 

But there are actually easy ways to make your house considerably more secure. One especially important way to prevent break ins is actually pretty simple. Have a good deadlock. 65% of break ins occur by forcing a door open. 12% occur because the criminal finds your “hidden” key.

“I have a deadlock, so I’m safe.” Not necessarily. St. Louis is filled with older homes, and many deadlocks are outdated. Do you know the grade of your deadlock? You should always go for Grade 1 deadbolts, they are the most effective. Shorter deadbolts makes it easier to break your door. For example, look at this older deadbolt compared to a newer Grade 1 model:

deadbolt

“I have a new deadbolt, so I’m safe.” Once again, not necessarily. A deadbolt is only as effective as the nails you use. How long are the nails that connect your deadbolt to your door frame? Many come with short 1/2 – 1 inch nails. With nails that short, it is easy to break the frame of your door. You should replace all of your nails with ones at least 3 inches long. These longer nails will go into the studs of your house and make it extremely hard to break down your door. Look at this example:

nail

Simple things like having better deadbolts and nails, locking up when you leave, not leaving an accessible “hidden” key, and working together with your neighbors to keep an eye on your block are effective ways of protecting your home. Remember, not all locks are built the same. Don’t let this be you:

door

Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern

Thank you to “The Family Handyman” for providing information and photos on deadbolt improvement.  Visit their website to learn how to install new deadbolts/nails yourself.

Information on houses being targets was taken from a research study, “Knowing Your Odds: Home Burglary and the Odds Ratio,” by S. Hakim, G. Renger and Y. Shachamurove, City College of New York and University of Pennsylvania, Sept. 2000


Stolen License Plate/Sticker Prevention

January 27, 2017 in Abigail Orscheln, Current News, license plate

The following post is from: Safety & Security

There has been a small spike in license plate and registration sticker thefts in St. Louis this month. Your license plate can be easily taken off of your car no matter where you are parked, home or not. Most thieves only need a screwdriver to take it and there can be major ramifications for you if your plates are used by someone else. For example, if your plates are identified with a crime, you could be a suspect if you haven’t reported them missing.

What do you do if your license plate is stolen?

  1. Immediately report it to the police – call the non-emergency number.
  2. Obtain an incident report number – It is illegal to drive without plates, but if you have your report number or an official copy of the report you can give it to an officer if they pull you over.
  3. Report the stolen plate to the Licensing Office at City Hall – bring your incident report number. There will be a small replacement fee.
  4. Get a temporary tag  or a new license plate.
  5. Secure your new plates with the methods outlined below.

How can you prevent license plate theft?

  1. Get theft prevention screws – Most thieves will carry around a screwdriver to get off plates. If you use special screws that require a particular tool to remove them, it is likely the thief will move on. There are multiple brands, such as Torx Security Screws or Plate Keeper.
  2. Get a plate security frame or cover – These  go around the edge of your plate or cover it entirely and keep people from taking them off. There are multiple brands, such as Lock-Um.

How can you prevent registration sticker theft?

  1. You can obtain enhanced security tabs/stickers that have perforated edges to make them difficult to remove by thieves. They also have your license plate number on them to dissuade thieves. They are free at time of renewal, or you can obtain them later for an $8.50 replacement fee and $3.50 processing fee.
    1. http://dor.mo.gov/motorv/enhancedtabs/
  2. You can slice your old sticker with something sharp, like a razor (be very careful!). This makes them difficult to remove.

St. Louis’ Stolen License Plates Page

Keep safe,

Abigail Orscheln — Safety and Security Intern


Crime Tips – December 2016

December 29, 2016 in Crime Tips, personal safety, phone apps

The following post is from: Safety & Security

You may hear the same tips over and over on how to prevent crime or victimization, such as locking your doors and hiding valuables. But here are some tips that you may not have heard before or are not as obvious, but are just as important.

  • Keep your keys in hand – Criminals wait for you to be off your guard, keeping your car or house keys in hand for easy access is a great way to avoid being distracted or slowed down.
  • Don’t follow the same patterns – Leaving and returning home at the same time every day, going to the same coffee shop, grocery store, or bar, taking the same routes to your favorite spot, or even a jog route can help criminals plot where you are going to be. Try varying your routes and visiting new places occasionally. Being unpredictable can be a great asset.
  • Say no to strangers – We all want to be helpful and friendly, but it probably isn’t a good idea to lend out your phone, give people money, or get caught up in a conversation. Your priority should be your safety. Catching nice strangers off guard makes it easier to take off with their things.
  • Learn defensive moves – If someone is threatening you to give up your belongings, you should give them up and get out of there. Personal items can be replaced. But if they continue the attack or are attacking you for reasons other than theft, learning some basic self-defense moves can make a big difference. Read some self-defense tips here.
  • Carry a whistle or other loud device – Criminals don’t want you to bring attention to the situation. Scream, blow a whistle, or set off an alarm. Anything to make them hesitate so you can get away.
  • Look for a personal safety phone app – There are multiple choices these days for apps that can schedule fake phone calls from friends in case you need an out from a situation, send your current location and an alert to a friend if you feel unsafe, or even call the police. These apps can be subtle and unnoticeable to the people you are around. Here is a list of some iPhone and Android apps. 

If you are a victim of a crime, don’t be afraid to reach out. Report the crime to the police and look into crime victim help groups.

 

Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern