This recurring column by Dave Jenkins of Rochester Personal Defense, LLC will explore different areas and methods of personal protection and self defense. Topics will range from using specific tools, techniques, or even yourself and your mind as the weapon. The goal is to create a more aware and safer you! Questions or suggestions are welcome!

This month’s topic comes from recent clients and how they learned to be safer while working in their respective careers. Some have had close calls or were just aware of the risk but wanted to learn how to minimize it. A few actually had to face that risk head on.

In today’s world, there are a lot of careers that take women into businesses and homes- usually by themselves. Positions such as home health care, realtors, insurance, sales, survey/census takers, party planners, and more. Regardless of the career, there are certain safety issues that prevail across each of them– safety.

Safety is one of those easily overlooked factors which contribute to the enjoyment of our lives. Most people take safety for granted. Too often, they will assume that their own personal safety is someone else’s responsibility. They’re wrong. No one else can guarantee your safety, only you. At home, travelling, and even working.

When your career is one that takes you in and out of the office, into businesses, and people’s homes, you have to take certain precautions. Some are simple and effective. Some take a little bit more effort but the end result is what is important – being safe

Regardless of an office setting, or visiting locations, you must employ certain basic safety habits. Communication and planning ahead are important. Self reliance and confidence are as well.

Let someone know where you will be and how long you will be there. Also have information on who you will be visiting. Have a system set up where you get a checkup call after a certain timeframe – even on a regular basis. Use code words or phrases to let the caller know if things are OK, are getting uncomfortable, or worse. Set up a plan with your team for a response as well. Use this plan every time because unless you can tell the future, you are not able to decide when to use this plan and when not to.

Do not be afraid to be assertive when it comes to your safety. Too often, we will compromise our security just to be friendly or nice to someone. There’s no reason for you to do that. One client of mine was in sales and was asked to meet her client at their house – a big house in a well kept area. His home office was a suite built above the four car garage. Upon entering, she described the feeling that ‘something did not feel right’ and she found a way to excuse herself and to make an appointment for the following day at another location which turned out to be her office. Was she in danger? Because she acted on her instinct, she may never know. The important detail to remember is that she listened to her ‘gut’ and acted on it. She did not worry about what her client may have thought.

If you have to work in people’s homes, you need to remember that you are still responsible for your own safety regardless of their feelings. When you travel to people’s homes, you could be entering an unknown situation where you do not know the layout of the house, the neighborhood, or the people that live in or around the house. Do some research and find out what you will be entering. Ask other contacts if they know the area, who lives there, what are they like, have there been any identified risks?

You can always get someone to accompany you if need be. Lately, a lot of home health care aides have been partnering with security guards and other employees to visit homes that have been identified as potentially dangerous.

Meeting people in an office setting can be easier. You can control the access and security a lot better. Having other staff in the area or creating a meeting room where it is open and accessible can prevent any issues with clients who would rather isolate you or trap you. Security cameras, access control, even support staff and security personnel will all contribute to a better sense of safety. Have your staff or a co-worker politely pop in or call every so often to check on you. Again, you can set up a code word or phrase system to let them know what’s going on without alerting the client. Think of it this way: if you travel to their home or office, you’re on their ‘turf’. When they come to your office, they are on yours.

You get the idea yet? Create a system that involves everyone around you! That way, the group as a whole is part of your safety net and everyone benefits!

Travelling between locations is also one of those situations where you should take steps to ensure your safety. Knowing the area is one step. Planning your route, having alternative routes, knowing where you could go for assistance if needed are important factors to consider.

Don’t let yourself relax too much when driving. There are times where you can be targeted just because you were sitting in a parking lot, catching up on texts, voicemails, or Facebook news. I have lost track of the times I have seen people so focused on something else that they do not notice someone near their car.

While driving, some of the best ways to ensure your safety are to check the back seat, make sure your doors are locked, and to never let anyone in your car that you don’t know. Better yet, while driving or stopped, don’t let anyone near your car. I know you’ve seen the people at the lights and off ramps asking for money. They’re a security issue. The professionals such as the police and self defense guides all say to avoid giving them any handouts. You’re just letting them get closer to see what you may have in the vehicle.

Next month, we’ll expand on more ideas for vehicle security for you and your family.

Dave Jenkins is the founder of Rochester Personal Defense, LLC, Rochester’s personal protection experts. Come join the other women that have learned how to be safe, keep their family safe, and how they became their own bodyguards. You can reach Dave and his team of instructors at or 585-406-6758. You can even email them at