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The weather is warming up and people are turning their thoughts to summer vacation. Choosing destinations, where to stay, travel modalities and budgeting money are only a few things to consider. How do we protect ourselves when we are in a new place that is not familiar? Planning for a trip away from home involves protection, protection not just of our family, belongings and money but also of us as individuals. When we are away from home there are many safety concerns we need to look at.

Personal safety is number one not only on vacation but every day. A criminal observes people and determines in just seven seconds who their next victim will be. On vacation we all want to have fun. That’s the purpose of a vacation, right? But staying safe should be our key objective. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Walk with a purpose, convey confidence and assertiveness. Keep your head up and look around. Make eye contact with people around you. Do not stare and conversation is not needed. 2 seconds of eye contact is enough to deter most criminals.

Carry your keys in your hand when walking to your car so as not to be distracted when you reach your vehicle.

Carry a cell phone. When you're going out at night, even if you're just going around the corner, it's a good idea to carry some form of communication, so you can reach emergency services if needed. Make sure your cell phone is fully-charged before going out.

When possible, travel with a group. It's always best bet to stick with people when you are walking at night. Man or woman, young or old, you're safer if you've got some back-up. Don't walk late at night all by yourself. If you must walk alone, stick to well-lit areas, using reliable routes to get where you are going as quickly as possible.

Let people know where you're going. Try to keep in touch when you go out. Just check in with someone periodically just to be safe. Let a parent, a close friend, or some other loved one know where you are, where you're going, and when you're likely to be back. At the very least, you'll keep people from worrying about you.

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Learn to defend yourself confidently. Learning a little about how to defend yourself in the event of a confrontation will help keep you feeling safe as you move through the world. You need not be paranoid, and you will have the confidence knowing you can defend yourself.

It is a sad fact that we no longer live in the age where we can go to bed and leave our front door open. We live in an age where you must start to take a more proactive role in protecting yourself, your children and your family’s safety. The Coles County Council on Aging and AARP will be providing “Your Safety Matters” seminar on May 22 at the LifeSpan Center located at the corner of Loxa Road and 800 N Charleston. Experts from within our own community will be on hand to share safety tips and advice for keeping your home, finances and person safe. Some topics to be covered include:

  • Being street smart, purse snatching
  • Residential and vehicle safety
  • Elderly persons with disability safety
  • Non lethal self defense
  • Financial fraud and scam protection/safety

The program will begin at 10 a.m. and concluding by 11:30 a.m.. It is a free program provided by AARP. Registration is required to attend. Please contact us at 217-639-5150 to reserve your seat. This workshop is designed to help you take more control of your own safety and that of your family.

The LifeSpan Center is located at 11021 E. County Road 800N, Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150. The numbers for the programs are as follows: Coles County Telecare -- 217-639-5166; Family Care Giver Resource Center -- 217-639-5168 and Dial A Ride -- 217-639-5169 or 1-800-500-5505. See you at your LifeSpan Center.

Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.” Peace Meals are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, contact Peace Meal at 217-348-1800.

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