As a member of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), Woodard had the privilege of viewing a Safety First presentation during their monthly board meeting. The presentation was presented by Community Outreach Officer, P.O. Brian O’Dekirk a member of District 4 with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Officer O’Dekrik shared with us a variety of tips to ensure our safety. He also informed us that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department increases patrol during the warmer months of the year – from March to November, additional patrol is provided between the hours of 6am and 2pm. Call 911 This may seem like a silly question, but when should you call 911? Your first instinct when in trouble may be to call a parent or significant other, but you need to call 911 first so they can get there as quickly as possible. If you need to contact the police, but it is not an emergency, please call your local police department rather than 911. In the City of St. Louis, this number is 314-231-1212. Explain Your Situation to Dispatch After you have made the call to 911, what do you say? First, get to a safe place and stay there. Once you’ve told the dispatcher your location, do not move. If possible, provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible – for example, in the situation where a vehicle is involved, try to provide the license plate number, vehicle color, cross roads the vehicle was last seen at, description of any visible decals, tinted windows, or any other information you can provide to identify the vehicle. Follow this rule as well for describing a person – any information that can help to identify the person is ideal, as well as their last known direction of travel. Vehicle Avoidance Techniques In order to discourage thieves from making your car their next target, be sure to park in well-lit areas, lock your car, and use “The Club” to lock your steering wheel. If possible, try to avoid leaving any valuables in your car such as purses/wallets, electronics, electronic cases/cords, sports equipment, etc. If you do need to leave an item in your car, put it in your trunk where it will be out of view. Don’t leave gym bags or backpacks in your car either, as they are tempting to thieves even if they are full of sweaty clothes or books; the thief doesn’t know that! Personal Safety – Walking When walking, be aware of your surroundings – put your phone away, keep the volume down on your music, and take note of the environment around you. If you are suspicious of someone following you, go to the nearest business for safety or cross the street. If you believe you are being followed by a car, turn around and go in the opposite direction. Try to get a license plate number, a description of the driver and vehicle, and call 911. Keep your purse or other bags close to your body – don’t let your bags loosely hang or dangle. If a criminal does grab your purse, do not pursue them. “If a bad guy wants your purse, he’s going to get it. The #1 most important thing is your safety. If you lose your purse, those things can be replaced,” stated P.O. O’Dekirk. Safety at Work When you arrive at work, be sure to keep your purses, wallet, and other valuables out of sight by placing them in a locker or drawer. If you need to use an elevator to get to your office, be aware of who is around. Don’t get into an elevator with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. And when you leave work, walk with others to your car. If you stay late, ask a security guard to escort you to your vehicle. Suspicious Activity If you witness some suspicious activity, you will want to make note of what any involved individuals are wearing, as well as any other identifiable traits, and call 911. Suspicious activity can include, but is not limited to, pulling on door handles, looking into windows, odd clothing for the time of year, a vehicle circling the area, or another individual who appears to be a “lookout.” If you ever feel that your life is in danger, don’t hesitate to call 911. For questions, concerns, or more information, visit: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.