Mace BlogRSS Feed
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, but just because the month will come to an end doesn't mean our work towards ending abuse stops. Watch as safety expert, Jennifer Cassetta, breaks the silence by discussing domestic violence facts and ways you can continue to support and take your stand to help end domestic violence.
October can often bring to mind pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather and Halloween costumes. But, did you know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Domestic violence, still a very much taboo topic, is happening behind closed doors all over the United States and beyond. In fact, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
There are many myths surrounding domestic violence. Here are just a few and the actual truth and facts to dispel them.
Myth #1: Domestic violence is purely physical and includes battering, beating and sexual assault.
The truth is domestic violence is not just limited to someone being hit or battered by his or her partner. Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional or psychological abuse. Batters use a range of tactics to terrorize, frighten, manipulate, humiliate, harm and sometimes kill an intimate partner.
Myth #2: Domestic violence victims are only women.
All genders experience domestic violence from both sides; as the victim and as the abuser. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by a domestic partner.
Myth #3: Domestic violence only happens to low income, women of color.
The truth is that wealthy, well educated individuals of any race are just as prone to violence as anyone. Celebrities who have spoken publicly about being victims of domestic violence include: Rihanna, Robin Givens, Nigella Lawson, Halle Berry, Shakira and Sarah Hyland.
Myth #4: The victim of domestic violence can simply leave the relationship.
The truth is that only the abuser is to blame for being abusive. And the emotional rollercoaster that the victim is taken on leads to damaged self-confidence and many times, downright fear of standing up to or leaving the abuser.
The abuser often uses a cyclical pattern where he or she will abuse, feel guilty and/or scared of getting caught, create excuses for their behavior, act normal again, fantasize about abusing again and then set up the partner for abuse again and justify it.
Many times a victim has no safe haven to go to where they may be safe from their abuser. Many are scared for their lives and don’t have the financial resources and supportive network to leave and start a new life.
Myth #5: Alcohol, drug use, or mental illnesses are usually causes for domestic violence.
The truth is that alcohol, drug use or mental illness do not cause domestic violence, even though sometimes they may go along with it. In general, the cause for domestic violence is when an abuser has learned this behavior and chooses to abuse.
Blaming alcohol or drugs is an excuse and a way to deny responsibility. Both may sometimes be a trigger for an attack, but they are not the underlying cause. Many sober people are violent and become abusers as well.
Being a realtor is a great career. Most great rewards can come with great risks. When working closely with strangers in any field, we assume some type of risk, but because realtors often times meet with strangers in private homes we wanted to talk directly with realtors to find out what risks, if any, they have come across during their career.
A great self defense tool is to envision different dangerous scenarios that you could possibly be in and how you would deal with them. If you are a realtor, new to the profession, read the following stories and ask yourself what you would do if faced with the same situations.
Jessica Nelson, a broker with Liberty Realty in Hoboken, New Jersey had a potentially very scary story to tell. About four years ago, Jessica was in charge of leasing out a building in West New York, when a potential client called to view an apartment. She met him after work and instead of it being just him, he showed up with two other men. The electricity wasn’t even working yet in the new building either.
The three men were from three different countries and were all going to live together. This set off red flags for Jessica, but she finished the showing unharmed. Later on, she found out the men were on the national terror watch list!
Another time, Jessica showed an open house and instead of the one man who called to say it was just for him, eight people showed up together. She immediately was on high alert, knew where all of the exits were and left straight out the back door.
Denise Rogers of Element Realty on Long Island, NY, has been in the business for twenty-two years. She recalls a story of a man who stalked her over the period of a few months. Denise had an open house about nine years ago when a man showed up alone. He came in an older car, which he would leave on the street and he stayed at the open house for about two hours. She definitely thought it was strange.
At the next open house she had, he came again and started to act more comfortable by sitting on the couch for a while. Later, he began calling the real estate office and asking which open houses Denise would be giving and when. Denise alerted the rest of the realtors about him and when a colleague of hers had an open house and he showed up, she called the police to have him arrested because they found him in a closet. The cops couldn’t arrest him because he didn’t actually attack anyone, but they scared him off enough so that he never came back.
PJ Kennedy, a certified property distress expert, has been with Keller Williams Realty for five years in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has come across squatters using drugs during a viewing. Another time a man who was most likely on drugs threatened him, and he felt the need to protect his client who was pregnant at the time. He was able to get them out safely. PJ knows that this particular area has a high rate of crystal meth use and realizes that can be dangerous when going into certain properties. He encourages everyone to know how to protect themselves.
Lori Rowe has been working for 31 years as a realtor in North Barrington, Illinois. During one open house, Lori recalls a man showing up who she says, didn’t fit the part. He was too scruffy looking for the high-end property she was showing.
He then began invading her personal space and that is when her intuition kicked in. She called her boss at the office and used a code word they had set up prior to the incident. He asked if she was scared and he continued to call her and check on her. The third time he called Lori, the potential perp ran out the door. She thinks realtors are in a vulnerable situation in open houses and knows of two stories of women realtors who were bound and gagged while robbers stole from the home.
Real Estate Agent Safety Tips
Going into the community and touring homes with perspective buyers is the main day-to-day work of a real estate agent, but many agents find that this work is more dangerous than they first anticipated. When walking into a home, an agent never knows what situation may present itself, and sometimes the buyers are complete strangers at the start of this process. Here are some tips real estate agents can use to make sure they can do their job safely, without fear of running into some unexpected danger along the way.
1. Meet New Clients Safely
Meeting a new client for the first time puts an agent at risk, because the agent has no way of knowing whether that client is who they say they are. Consider meeting in a public place or at the real estate office first. Ask for identification, claiming company policy, and photocopy it for the client's file. Introduce all new clients to co-workers, then ask them to fill out an identification form. All of these actions will deter potential criminals, but will not be a concern for law-abiding citizens.
2. Avoid Confined Spaces
Confined spaces, like the basement or attic, are somewhere an agent can easily become trapped if the buyers are unscrupulous. Agents can avoid these areas by talking about the home's selling point, then allowing the buyer to explore these area while remaining by the front door. Agents should position themselves by the door to any room they are exploring, while the buyer does the primary tour, allowing the agent to flee more quickly if needed.
3. Bring a Friend
In situations that make an agent uncomfortable, strength in numbers is the best defense. Bringing a friend, coworkers, or even a spouse, but have someone else along to help provide another measure of safety.
4. Use Caution in Vacant Properties
For most agents, the clients are not the biggest risk they face. Often the risk is in the homes they are touring, especially when those homes are supposed to be vacant. First, vacant properties are often welcoming to unwanted guests. Squatters can be quite dangerous, because they are unwilling to leave their new abode, but vermin and insect infestations can also be dangerous.
To avoid problems, visit vacant properties during the day only, and always let someone else know which property is on the schedule. Understand whether the home has a security system or not to know how careful you'll need to be. Inspect the exterior before entering for signs of problems. Finally, don't confront a squatter or previous owner who may be inside the home, but instead call the police to report any trespassers.
5. Practice Personal Safety
Real estate agents must use their own images for marketing purposes, because they work in a highly personal field. However, marketing materials that contain personal photos can draw the attention of predators and other criminals. Because of this, agents need to know basic personal safety measures.
First, agents need to wear shoes and clothes they can run in if a showing turns dangerous. They also need to avoid using personal and home contact information in marketing materials, opting instead to use their office phone and company cell phone. Agents should use caution about friending their clients on social media, where they may post photos and information about their families and personal life for all to see. Taking a self-defense class, carrying a Mace Brand Realtor safety kit and understanding what to do in a serious situation are all good ideas for agents who spend their time in the public eye.
Real estate is not a dangerous field, but it does carry some risks. Practicing smart real estate techniques with a focus on personal safety will help keep today's agents safe and successful.
6 Steps for Realtor Safety
By Jennifer Cassetta
If you’re an area Realtor, you have no doubt heard the story of Betsy Carter, who was abducted and murdered while showing an open house. Her story, sparked a lot of safety events around the country to help women and men avoid danger when possible. September is Realtor Safety Month. Realtors can practice the following safety tips to decrease their chances of being a target of theft, stalking and assault.
Don’t get too personal.
Try not to share personal info with your new clients. There’s no need for them to know where you live, where your kids go to school, if you’re single, or where you hang out on the weekends.
Be social media savvy.
If you have a business account for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media service, keep it about business. Feature the homes you are selling and keep your private business private. Give potential clients access to your office line only and keep your cell phone number off of social media.
Tone down the bling.
Dressing for success is great. Putting your best foot forward and showing potential clients that you are a successful agent can be helpful in making a deal. However, wearing overly expensive jewelry, driving flashy cars, and carrying designer handbags can signal a potential thief that you may be a good target for theft. If you choose to wear your best, try to do that at the office when surrounded with people and not during open houses when you are alone.
Know how to protect yourself.
Learning basic self-defense has helped many women and men in the moment of a life-threatening attack. Know your weapons that you have naturally on your body and how to use them. Knees, elbows, feet and hands can strike your opponent and help you get out of grabs and holds, long enough for you to possibly flee the situation. Carrying a Mace Brand Realtor Safety Kit while showing open houses can help you fend off an attacker in the moment. I highly recommend having one handy.
Fake it till you make it.
Always use strong body language when showing open houses. Even if you are feeling nervous or vulnerable in a situation, using great posture and making direct eye contact with clients will show you are still feeling confident and in control. Your brain may even start to believe it too.
Don’t let clients tell you where to go in a house. Lead the conversation and the showing but let clients walk ahead of you if you are entering a room with only one exit. Stay close to the exit while allowing the client to walk around the room and explore. If showing a closed-in backyard or area, the same principle applies. Never back yourself into a corner. Stay close to the exit and let the client explore.
Create a code.
If you ever find yourself in a situation that you want out of immediately, having a code with colleagues or loved ones can help. Have a secret code word or phrase that you can text or say on a phone call that would sound innocent to the attacker but would signal your colleagues and loved ones that you are in danger and that they should send help. Perhaps you can play along with this potential attacker, disguised as a client, and tell them you have to call the office to confirm the details of the home you are showing. Say your code and know that help will be on it’s way, hopefully in the form of police officers.
Another tactic to get out of a showing as fast as possible is to lie. Have a phrase ready that you are comfortable saying that gives you an immediate out regardless of what the client says. Perhaps it is something like, “my child’s school just texted and there is an emergency. I must leave now.” If the client refuses to leave, leave the house anyway and go get help.
We want to hear from you. Are you a real estate agent? Have you ever felt unsafe while on the job?
The summer may be coming to an end but that doesn’t mean that your road trips have to stop. Whether you’re traveling along the coast for an end-of-summer beach vacation or heading to the lake for a long weekend, road-tripping safety can be easily prepared for in advance and is just as important as packing your suitcase.
Keeping a car safety kit in your car allows you to be prepared for an emergency or unfortunate situation. Whether you have a new or old car, having the following items in your car safety kit can help you in emergencies such as crashes, break-downs, break-ins, and attempted assaults.
1. Mace Brand Utility Knife:
This genius multi-purpose tool is a must have for any car safety kit. It has a seatbelt cutting tool if you or a passenger was stuck with locked seatbelts after an accident. And, of course, it has a durable, stainless steel blade that can cut through difficult objects. Perhaps you will need to cut clothing off of an injured person or cut through sticks or branches that have gotten lodged somewhere, keeping this utility knife on you can be a life saver.
2. Non-perishable snacks:
Snack bars or protein bars are great food items that can be stashed away in your car safety kit or even in the glove department. If you and/or your kids are ever stranded and hungry, a nutritious bar can keep the hanger away.
2. Water for drinking:
Having at least a gallon of clean water in the car at all times is important. I recommend keeping it in a non-toxic, non-plastic container. Plastic water bottles will leach toxic chemicals into the water when exposed to hot temperatures. If ever stranded far from a town or convenient store, having water to keep you hydrated until help arrives is helpful to keep you coherent.
4. First aid kit:
A first aid kit is a necessity for every car, but especially when you have kids. If ever hurt or injured, having at least the basics like anti-bacterial wash and bandages can keep a victim from dangerous bleeding wounds while waiting on an ambulance or heading to the hospital or urgent care.
5. Jumper cables:
This should be an obvious one for everyone who drives and who does not have a AAA membership.
6. Duct tape:
Because, you just never know.
7. Flashlight & extra batteries:
Needing to see in the dark is important and so is having extra batteries in case!
8. Mace Brand pepper spray:
I always carry a pepper spray product with me in my car. I’ve heard too many stories of women being pulled over by someone impersonating a police officer or being car-jacked. Keeping it with you inside the car and not in the trunk is key.
9. Warm blanket:
You never know when you may need to car camp unexpectedly. Keeping toasty with a warm blanket will make a night in the car that much better.
For cold weather road-tripping there are a few more items to keep handy:
- A windshield ice scraper to combat frost and snow
- Cat litter which works like gravel to help you get out of a slippery icy road situation
We want to hear from you! Have you ever been in a car emergency? What were the items that you are thankful that you had and/or what do you wish you did have that you didn’t?
I am sure that this can be a bittersweet time for you. Sending your beloved children off to college can be exciting as you see something they have worked so hard towards come to fruition. It could also feel liberating that you may have some more free time on your hands and at the same time you may feel sad because you will miss them so much.
While you shop for the extra-long bed sheets and stock up on snacks try to set aside time to talk to your kid about his or her safety while at school. As a parent, it’s your job to teach them about personal safety now that they are leaving the nest, because most likely their new school will not.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on how to prepare your kids to be safe and confident while still enjoying themselves at school:
1. Talk to kids about sexual assault
Whether you have a son or daughter, having a conversation about the difference between consensual sex and anything else is important. According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), college aged women are at a higher risk of sexual assault than women of any other age group. In fact, 23.1 percent of female and 2.2 percent of male undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. The most disturbing fact is that many assaults go unreported, which means the statistics are probably higher than reported.
2. Talk about safe partying
Since many incidents involve alcohol and incapacitation, speak to kids about setting safe limits on alcohol use. Teach them how blacking out can occur without any physical warnings and how to keep their drinks safe from being spiked.
In my book, Hear Me Roar: how to defend your mind, body and heart against people who suck, I wrote the 10 Cocktail Commandments to help people of any age manage their liquor including:
- Never drink on an empty stomach
- Watch when your drink is being prepared
- Keep your eyes on your drink at all times. (Yes, that means taking it to the bathroom with you)
- Have a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink to avoid dehydration and quicker intoxication.
Another great tip for safe partying is to always head out in a group and make sure that same group heads home together. If one member of the group can stay sober and be the eyes and ears for the group, even better. I’ve had sorority women tell me that person is called the “party mom”.
3. Send them off with a safety kit
Yes, snacks and a cozy comforter are nice but sending your kids off to school with a curated personal safety kit could actually help keep them safe from harm and able to protect themselves.
A first aid kit is an essential for any safety kit. A good safety kit should have all of the essential bandages, alcohol swabs, anti-bacterial ointments, cold medicine or vitamins, some anti-inflammatories and a scissor.
A Mace Brand personal alarm is something to definitely include for your student to keep on his/her keychain when out and about to set off if ever in a vulnerable situation.
Date rape drug detector strips are available online and great to add to your safety kit for your son or daughter to detect if their drink has been spiked.
Mace Brand pepper spray would be my last essential item for your safety kit to arm your student when alone, in a new town or city, driving or walking to and from work, classes or parties. You can never be too prepared.
Chances are your new student will be just fine and will stay safe throughout their college years as they learn how to fend for themselves and develop better street smarts. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and empower your kids to take personal safety into their own hands!
Cheers and good luck to you all,
Over one third of Americans will travel (50 miles or more) for at least one vacation this year, according to a recent AAA survey. Many more are planning two or three vacations to bond with family members. If you are among them, whether you plan on traveling stateside or abroad there are some safety precautions you can plan ahead for to reduce your chance of being a victim of theft, fraud or even of falling ill. Below are three areas of safety to plan ahead for.
1. Safety from fraud
Before you head out on your adventure, it’s a smart move to make printed copies of your passport, credit cards and travel itinerary to keep with you in case any of it goes missing. Keeping a copy of that information in a web based email account is another smart back up. Leave another copy with a friend or family member back home as well.
Be weary of overly nice, curious or helpful strangers, especially if it is obvious you are a tourist. There are tons of scammers, con artists and gypsies that make a living off of the unaware tourist. If you have questions about the area you are in or need suggestions, do that before you head out of the hotel by asking the concierge and being prepared with maps of the area.
2. Safety from theft
Pickpocketing is still a major crime especially in the following cities: Barcelona, Rome, Prague, Madrid and Paris. It also happens here in the U.S. and every major city around the world. You can protect your assets by planning ahead.
Fanny packs are so 1980, but you can buy more sleeker versions that you can hide under your clothes for even better protection. A Mace Brand Waistbelt is perfect to carry your identification, some money, a phone and hotel keys while you strut about your host city with your arms free to protect yourself and your belongings. If you need to carry more than that, be sure to carry a cross-body bag and have the opening zipper compartment in front of your stomach.
Stealing phones is also very common in certain areas. Keep on high alert while taking photos, especially selfies with your smart phone. Never keep it in your back pocket or in a backpack pocket that is easy to get to.
If you choose to travel with your Mace Brand pepper spray, remember that you must check it in your luggage. It will not be allowed in your carry on. A Mace Brand personal alarm is easy to travel with and can deter someone from robbing you if you set it off in a public place.
Lastly, leave your fancy jewelry at home and never flaunt it on social media. We all learned a valuable lesson from Mrs. Kardashian-West when she was robbed in a Paris flat by armed gunmen after showing off her big jewels on her IG account.
3. Food safety
I recently got very ill on a trip to Mexico. Luckily it happened the day I was supposed to be heading home and not in the beginning or middle of my trip. I was a little too lax about making sure I was careful not to drink water from the tap. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what did it, it could have been the tuna I ate the night before that was cooked slightly medium rare. Either way, I learned my lesson.
If you are in a country where water isn’t safe for Americans to drink you should stick to drinking bottled water whenever possible. My downfall was brushing my teeth with tap water because we were in a hip hotel and I got lazy. Also, be sure to order all of your meats and seafood closer to well done than medium or rare. Sushi lovers beware. I’m sure most of it is safe if you are eating from a reputable restaurant but because the fish is raw it does come with a higher risk.
If you do get very sick make sure you can hydrate your body as soon as you can keep liquid down. If you can find coconut water, Gatorade or even Pedialyte (if you’re desperate) drink that until you are hydrated and try to avoid flying while you are ill. Traveling with a small first aid kit that contains an anti-diarrheal and Tylenol is also a great idea!
Now off you go! Enjoy your travels.
There’s nothing like a great barbeque on July 4th followed by a fireworks show. It’s a great day to honor our country surrounded with friends and family.
Like any celebration, it’s easy to get caught up in all the fun. The last thing you would expect is for something to go wrong while you’re celebrating. At the risk of sounding paranoid, this is exactly when we should do our best to keep safety a top priority.
According to the National Safety Council, July 4th is our country’s most dangerous holiday with the most deaths occurring on and around this date.
Here are a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe while still enjoying the 4th of July:
1. Stay hydrated.
Most of the country will experience hot temperatures over the holiday weekend and the effects of dehydration can be very serious. Severe dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, sunburn or even heatstroke if in the sun for too long.
Eat high water content foods like watermelon and raw veggies to help you stay hydrated. Meat, potatoes and bread have very little water content to them. If those foods are the bulk of your July 4th diet then make sure you’re drinking plenty of water as well.
Alcohol and caffeinated drinks, like soda, are also diuretics and strip water from the body. If you choose to indulge, be sure to drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic or soft drink. You’ll be glad you did when you wake up on the 5th of July sans hangover.
2. Be a safe spectator.
Setting off fireworks can be extremely dangerous. Leave the display up to the experts. Try to attend your local fireworks display at an organized event in your community rather than making your own backyard show. If you do find yourself at a backyard party where fireworks are being set off, keep yourself and your kids out of range if the worst possible scenario were to happen.
3. Be on crowd alert.
If you are heading to a parade or fireworks display with a group of people, make sure to check out the area for any suspicious activity or people. You can be calm and have fun while still keeping alert.
Make sure you know where the exits are if you are in an enclosed space and always have a way out mapped out in your head if there were any kind of disruption. Remember, you don’t always have to follow the crowd, especially in mass hysteria.
3. Light up your kids.
Keeping your kids close to you when in a crowd, at a parade or any public gathering is ideal, but not always realistic. Kids will be kids and will run off to greet friends, pet animals or play with bright shiny objects. It can be scary when they are out of your sight for too long. That’s why these Shoe Safety Lights by Mace Brand are ideal when you’re heading out after dark. These lights clip right onto the back of their heels and light them up so they will be visible to you from far away.
4. Use a rideshare app.
It goes without saying to not drink and drive. But, sadly, almost half of the deaths that occur on this holiday are alcohol related. Instead of driving, use a rideshare app like Uber, Lyft or a good old-fashioned taxi. The extra $10-$20 is way cheaper than a DUI, DWI, or even worse, getting in an accident with innocent people.
Have a fun and safe 4th of July!
Father’s Day is fast approaching and falls on Sunday, June 18th. Are you need of ideas of what to get Dad to let him know that you care and appreciate him? The following are my favorite must-have safety gadgets that every guy should have:
Mace Brand Flashlight and Stun Gun (http://www.mace.com/mace-brand-2-400-000-volt-black-stun-gun-with-bright-led-717)
A stun gun is a great idea for a Dad who doesn’t want a real gun in his home or on his person. This Mace Brand stun gun also has a flashlight, so it’s great to protect Dad against a nighttime intruder or for him to keep in his car.
2 Way Radio
What guy doesn’t wouldn’t like a set of walkie talkies? They may sound like a kid’s toy but if your Dad is an outdoorsman he could really use these. Using 2 way radios to communicate with his camping, hiking or snowboarding buddy can keep him safe if he got into any trouble, got injured or simply lost his way.
Anyone who uses a smartphone, tablet or laptop can use a portable charger for those times when there’s no place to plug in. If Dad travels a lot, this is a great gift for him to pack in his carry-on to make sure he is powered up even when travel delays get in the way. I particularly like portable chargers that have the option to use solar power for energy like this one from Goal Zero (https://www.rei.com/product/893309/goal-zero-flip-20-portable-charger).
Ring Video Doorbell
I love this for older parents who live alone and could use the extra protection. Ring allows you to virtually answer your door and actually speak to someone at your doorstep. Ring provides your with cameras that you can easily install around your house and at your main door. When someone rings the doorbell, you will get a notification on your smartphone and you can see who’s there and speak if you want, without actually being home! If you are at home, you’ll be able to see who’s there and choose if you want to get the door or not. You must have wireless internet to use this service. (https://ring.com)
Headlamps aren’t just for miners. Keeping a headlamp in dad’s bedside table is a great backup in case the electricity goes out and he has to get up to check out a noise or even just to go to the bathroom. He may even wear it to read in bed if Mom has an earlier bedtime. Here are some different headlamps from REI: https://www.rei.com/search.html?q=headlamp&origin=...
Mace Brand Alert 911
Again, if Dad is getting up there in the years, the Mace Brand Alert 911 is a great tool to keep him safe if anything suddenly happened to his health. He can wear it around his neck at home or when he’s out and about and when pressed, it will call 911 for him. If he’s fallen on the sidewalk or has sudden pain in his chest, 911 can be a button push away, versus having to find his phone that may not be on his person.