Safety first: Important items to keep in your bag
Christine Mukisa was attacked just outside her gate. In that moment, the only thing she had was her handbag which was devoid of anything to protect herself from the attackers. For a woman, although looking good is key, carrying only makeup and perfume in your handbag is not proactive.
According to safetyrespectequity.com.au, an online portal, carrying items in your bag for personal safety is a wise precaution. Here are some items that a woman (or anyone) might consider keeping in their bag for safety in case of an attack or emergency:
A small, portable alarm that can emit a loud sound when activated. It can deter potential attackers and draw attention to your situation. Nowadays, one can get such an alarm added to their key holder. Also, some key chains are designed with sharp edges or small tools that can be used for self-defense.
A canister of pepper spray can temporarily incapacitate an attacker and provide you with an opportunity to escape. To give you a practical example of how pepper spray can be useful, imagine that you’re walking alone and someone approaches you in a threatening manner. You can quickly and easily spray the pepper spray in their face, causing them to experience intense pain and temporary blindness. This will give you time to escape and call for help. Similarly, if someone tries to break into your home or car, you can use pepper spray to defend yourself and deter the attacker.
A whistle can be used to signal for help or to draw attention to your location in an emergency. These are common and readily available with some costing as low as 2000 Uganda Shillings.
A small, powerful flashlight can help you see in the dark, and it can also be used to disorient an attacker. In the market right now, there are small flashlights that cost as low as 1000 Uganda Shillings. They are also weightless, enabling one to carry as many as possible in case one is lost or runs out of battery. Also, a basic first aid kit can be helpful in case of minor injuries or emergencies.
Emergency personal locator
Consider a GPS tracker or app that can help friends or family locate you in case of an emergency. Thankfully, these now come fitted in our phones. One should also keep a list of emergency contacts, including family members, friends, and local authorities. Indicate who your next of kin is because in most cases, this is the one person who will answer calls from your number. It goes without saying but our phones should also not have passwords. A charged phone is crucial for calling for help. Keep a spare charger and power bank in your bag.
Always carry some form of identification, like a driver’s license or ID card. In case your credit or debit cards are lost or not accepted, having some cash can be invaluable. If you have any essential medications, keep a supply in your bag.
Personal safety apps: Install personal safety apps on your phone that can send alerts and your location to trusted contacts. Photocopies of your passport, medical insurance, and any other essential documents can be helpful in emergencies. A notebook and pen can be useful for writing down important information, such as license plate numbers, descriptions of individuals, or other details in an emergency situation.
One of the most important tools you can carry is knowledge. Consider taking self-defense classes to learn how to protect yourself effectively. These are now easy to access since many gyms or fitness centres also offer them.
Remember, while these items can be helpful, situational awareness and avoidance are often the best forms of self-protection. Being aware of your surroundings and making safe choices can go a long way in keeping you out of potentially dangerous situations.