With the holidays quickly approaching, you can begin to think about holiday safety too soon. In fact, it’s often the one thing we completely neglect to think about until confronted with a situation. Below are just a few tips on staying safe while enjoying the holiday season.


Holiday shopping should be a fun and exciting experience. You must deal with the crowds and traffic – unless you’re shopping on-line, those things are unavoidable – but you can take steps to keep your family safe too.

  • Park in a well-lit area. Take the time to find a spot both close to a streetlight and close to a mall or store main entrance. If you know the mall or store well, try to pick an entrance near a security or information desk if possible. You want to increase the chances of other people seeing you come and go and be able to get help quickly if necessary. It also makes it easier to find you if someone (security, police, ambulance etc.) is trying to find your location.
  • Keep your wallet and your phone tucked away until you need them. When arriving at the mall, don’t get out of the car on the phone. This is not a good time to be distracted. Look to see if anyone is watching you. And I don’t mean looking in your direction. I mean actually watching your movements. There’s a difference. And never count your cash in public. It makes it too easy for the wrong people to know if you are the right target.
  • When leaving the mall, make sure your cash and cards are already put away. Try to put everything away at the register. Just step to the side so the next customer can get started and put all of your belongings away before you leave the counter. You never want to walk around with loose bills in your pockets where it might fall out. Or an opportunistic passer-by can bump you the wrong way and relieve you of your cash.


It is finally time to go home! You are likely exhausted, physically, mentally and possibly even financially. Stay focused. 

  • Don’t hit the road until you are absolutely ready to leave your location. Don’t load your vehicle with packages and then go back into the store for one more thing. Someone could be watching you, especially, if you come to the lot with your arms full of packages. They may break into the vehicle before you return, or they could be waiting when you come back. 
  • If you feel like you’re being followed. First, try to make sure you’re actually being followed. Just because the car behind you takes the exact same route to the expressway, it doesn’t mean anything sinister is taking place. However, if you take several right turns in a row – so that you’ve gone in a big circle and are back where you started – and they are still behind you, drive to a busy area and get out. If they stop when you stop and get out when you get out, that’s reason enough to think something is up and call a friend or possibly flag down a cop. 
  • Listen to your instincts. Basic common sense says if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. You get into your building and the elevator door opens but it’s someone you don’t know. You have a second to decide. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t get on. Wait for the next elevator. So what if you make them feel uncomfortable? Big deal. They’ve already made you feel uncomfortable right? In this situation, you can’t afford to be wrong. 
  • If a violent event or assault takes place, do not allow yourself to be taken to another location. Nobody wants to lose their belongings. All the things you lose: ID, medical cards, credit cards, precious mementos, etc. The thing to remember is that they are all replaceable. Your life is not. If something happens to you, that stuff is worthless anyway. 

If cornered and turning over your purse or wallet will end the conflict, do it and live another day. What is worse is when they want more than that. When individuals with bad intentions have time and privacy on their side, things don’t go well. At all costs, never allow yourself to be taken to a secondary site.  If you are transported to another location your chances of survival go way down. Do what you need to do to end the conflict at the first location; kick, punch, even bite (if truly desperate) and scream your head off to get some attention to your situation. 

These are the first of many holiday safety articles that will appear on this site. You can also look for regular video clips to accompany future tips on safety and self-defense. 

Until next time,

James Hirth
Chung’s Martial Arts