Sergeant Robbie Barrera from the Texas Department of Public Safety shared her advice during the Texas REALTORS® webinar “Stay Safe Out There” for safety on the job and what to do if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. Here are a few takeaways from her presentation.
Practice safety every day
Barrera says to think about when you are most vulnerable. For example, are you paying attention when you …
- Get in or out of your car? Look at your surroundings and pay attention to what’s going on and where you parked.
- Fasten your child in his or her car seat? That takes your eyes off what is going on around you.
- Are loading or unloading groceries? If you have your arms loaded with groceries, are you really paying attention to what’s going on?
- Are on the hiking or jogging trail?
- Unlock a home with your clients standing behind you?
- Leave a parking garage or lot?
Identify your most vulnerable moments, practice heightened awareness, and make simple changes, like having clients walk in front of you instead of behind.
Have an emergency plan
Having a plan, even if only in your mind, will give you an advantage and keep you from freezing up in a real emergency, says Barrera. “Once your heart rate gets elevated, you lose your fine motor skills. Rehearsing plans of action will give your brain a memory to revert to when it becomes stressed in emergency situations.”
Be vigilant at your showings and open houses
Barrera says it’s best to drive separately from clients to showings, even if you think nothing bad could happen. “Pay attention to the cars they drive,” Barrera says. “If something seems off, the best thing you can do is write down a license plate, or nonchalantly take photos with your phone.” Avoid parking in the driveway, where you could get boxed in, and park across the street instead.
Look around often and scan your surroundings. Use your peripheral vision. Avoid distractions, like talking or looking at your phone.
“If you’re doing an open house for a few hours, have someone else there,” she says. “There is safety in numbers.”
Stay safe on the road
“Routines can make you more of a target. If you drive the same way to work every day, it doesn’t take much time to pick up on those routines,” Barrera says.
In general, vary your transportation routes, lock your car doors, and keep your windows rolled up.
If you think you’re being followed, call 911 and stay on the phone as you go to a safe place where there are a lot of people. “And if you think you’re being followed in your car, do not drive home. Go somewhere else, like a police station, fire station, or public area.”