36 percent of the 500 respondents said they were more concerned about their friends and family than themselves. Picture: Pexels

A new survey conducted by 1st for Women Insurance has found that being attacked is a key concern for South African women, but this is not their primary source of distress.

When asked what worries them the most about their safety and security, 36 percent of the 500 respondents said they were more concerned about their friends and family than themselves.

“From the women we spoke to, fears around being hijacked with their children in the car, friends or family being kidnapped or being robbed were also highlighted as cause for concern,” says Casey Rousseau from 1st for Women Insurance. “The research also found that moms are specifically concerned about their daughters’ safety.”

Only 29 percent of the women surveyed believe that their safety is going to improve in the near future.

“Because the safety of their friends and family is a concern, 44 percent of the women surveyed have put a tracking device on their children’s cellphone, 33 percent have increased the security at their home and 16 percent have armed their vehicles with additional security features,” notes Rousseau.

1st for Women offers some practical advice on the steps women can take to feel safer and more secure:

AT HOME

  • Look for potential weak points in your home security. All doors should be fitted with security gates, and windows should be secured with burglar bars.
  • Ensure that you have the best perimeter protection that you can afford, such as high walling and electric fencing.  Security systems such as beams and alarms systems are recommended to provide an early warning of a security breach. These systems should be backed-up with armed response.

IN YOUR CAR

  • Use a GPS to avoid getting lost and becoming an easy target.
  • Always let a friend, work colleague or family member know where you are, where you are going and when you have arrived at your destination.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and look out for anything suspicious.
  • Limit distractions, such as checking or talking on your cellphone, when walking to or from your car.
  • Avoid driving with windows open, keep the doors locked and lock valuables out of sight. Install smash-and-grab window protection if possible.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, make a couple of false turns. If someone is still following you, drive to the nearest police station.
  • Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.
  • Slowdown in such a way that the light is green by the time you reach a traffic light, especially late at night – this avoids you coming to a complete stop and reduces your risk of becoming a target.
  • Always park in a safe, well-lit area.
  • Many hijackings happen just as you are entering or leaving your home. Having a well-lit, shrub-free driveway and an electric gate (that can switch to a battery during power failures) can help you get in and out safely. Use the remote to close the gate behind you, rather than waiting for the self-timer. This limits a criminal’s window of opportunity.

OUT AND ABOUT

  • Watch what you drink – Be mindful of how much you drink and don’t allow alcohol to cloud your judgement.
  • Watch your drink – Be weary of drinking anything that you have not poured yourself or watched someone pour for you. Also, never leave your drink unattended. Drink-spiking is a reality of our times.
  • Stick with your crowd – There is safety in numbers so try to stick with a group of people you know.

“Remember to always assess the risk of your situation so that you can take precautionary measures ahead of time and listen to those instinctual feelings of uncertainty or distress. It’s not about living in fear, but rather understanding your circumstances, trusting yourself, and making the right choices to keep yourself and your loved ones safe,” says Rousseau.