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Many of us take advantage of enjoying our local parks and beaches, especially this time of year when the weather is still nice and warm. It’s a great place to just relax or enjoy regular exercise, such as walking and jogging.

Living in California, I love to take advantage of all the wonderful parks and beaches whenever I can. It’s a great place for me to relax and take a break from my writing. Sometimes, I get my best story ideas walking at the beach with my dogs. However, I am still aware of my surroundings, even as I enjoy the great outdoors and beautiful scenery.

Emily Stone, the heroine in my novel Compulsion that is dedicated to public safety, suggests the following tips to stay safe for the park and beach enthusiast:

1.Remember, there is always safety in numbers. It is recommended that you walk or run with a friend. For me, I have a large, trained, black dog that accompanies me when I’m alone and he has deterred a couple of individuals from possibly making me a potential crime victim in the past.

2.Don’t take shortcuts or dirt paths through wooded areas.

3.Stay on well-lighted and populated path areas.

4.Remain alert and aware at all times. As funs as it is to wear headphones with your favorite music, if you are alone don’t wear them, it can distract you from your surroundings.

5.Familiarize yourself with your local park or beach and know where the public phones or police call boxes are located, even if you have your personal cell phone with you. It’s always a good idea to know where these emergency phones are located.

6.Know the locations of any stores or businesses that may be open in the vicinity of the park or beach. These types of locations may be a safe place to go if you feel threatened or need assistance.

7. Don’t wear an excessive amount of jewelry because this will make you stand out.

8.Closely supervise children and instruct them how to response to strangers.

9. If someone attempts to verbally harass you, keep walking and continue to a populated area or business. If you do respond to this type of behavior, it could escalate the situation. It’s always better to be cautious and find a safe, populated location.

10.ALWAYS report suspicious persons or activities to the local police. Remember to dial “911” for emergency police or medical services.

If you happen to become a victim of a crime at the park, beach, or anywhere for that matter, the police recommend the following:

1.Remain calm.
2.Don’t make any quick or sudden movements.
3. Don’t be a hero. No amount of money or personal property is worth your life.
4. Be observant. Try to remember everything you can about the criminal: sex, age, race, clothing, height, weight, and anything that would help to identify the criminal.
5.Call the police immediately after the incident.

Crime in parks and beaches isn’t commonplace, but it’s always important to remember these simple tips and to be prepared just in case of an emergency.

Being fully prepared usually means that nothing will likely happen. It’s important to feel comfortable when visiting your local park or beach areas. Take advantage and enjoy your visits to these wonderful, outdoor locations.

Jennifer Chase
Author & Criminologist

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