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10 Safety Tips for House Calls

In the service industry there are still many jobs that require going to a customer or client's home whether you are a food delivery driver, a maintenance technician, or perhaps an in-home care specialist for example. Unfortunately you never know exactly what you may encounter, even if you have been to that location before. We live in a crazy world with some really bad people. You might think a criminal would be stupid to attack you in their own home where it was obviously them but our prisons and jails are full of criminals that are not too bright. In home service is a wonderful thing which I and many others are thankful for. And as important as it is for us that you wonderful service techs provide the services you do it is most important that you get some safe after every call. If it seems like a bad deal it probably is. There's always another service call. If you skip a client today there will be another one. Money comes and goes but trauma lasts a lot longer. Here are ten tips to help you get home safe from house calls. 1. Get some background information about your client. Once you have their name look up their social media if possible. Run their name through a court system if readily available. Have a list of no go crimes. If you work for a company hopefully there is someone there doing this that has a policy that says something akin to "We're not sending our workers alone into the homes of convicted sexual predators." Look up their address on Google and ask yourself if it looks like a safe place for you to go. Don't be afraid to let people know you are checking them out first. Good people do not usually mind background checks. There are a few paranoid people but oh well. If they do, well there's someone else willing to pay for your service. 2. Always let someone know where you are going whether it be a coworker, supervisor, friend, or family member. Give them the address. Make sure the address shows up right on the map. Sometimes addresses are way off of where the map has them. 3. Share your phone's location. There are several apps that do this but Google Maps is already on most phones and has this feature. Take a picture of the house and send it to your contact. It may not look like on Google Maps and also sometimes the map pins show are a bit off from where you actually are. 4. Have pre-designated check-in times. Per your job you know what's appropriate whether it be every ten minutes, half hour, or hour. It can be as simple as sending someone a text so they know you are okay. If you miss a check-in after five minutes they will text you if you don't respond in another five minutes they will give you a phone call. If you don't answer they are either going over or calling the police, whichever is appropriate. If the situation seems strange shorten up the check-ins than previously planned. Let's say for instance you are a hospice going to take care of 88 year old Ethel and she's a nice old lady. You have been to her house, she's harmless, almost comatose, so you're check-in is normally every hour. Well this time you show up you find her tweaker looking grandson Luke is there. Shorten up the check-in times and tell the person you check-in with why. 5. Trust your Spidey senses. We often hear the term "sixth sense." We don't have a sixth sense. What this is that one or more of our five senses is receiving stimuli it does not like and it does not know how to articulate it well. It's causing our nervous system to go into overdrive because it's struggling to tell you something is wrong but it's stuttering. There's a great book written by a security expert named Gavin de Becker everyone should read for their own safety. If it doesn't feel right back out. Just like on a first date you need to get out of have a friend or coworker ready to give you a call so you can say you have to go. Perhaps you are a maintenance technician and you can say you will need another partner with expertise in a certain area or another part or tool to finish the job. Have a good excuse ready to go. Maybe you can bring another person and finish the job or in the case of Luke and Ethel try to make sure Luke is gone the next time you come over. 6. Always be careful of how you talk to people. Some people can take almost anything you say as flirting. Just ask how many cashiers have customers hit on them and think they are getting somewhere with the cashier. Always be professional. You always want to be nice but never flirtatious. I get you may want to sell the house if you are a realtor or perhaps you are a salesman there to try to get them to buy a product but understand some people do not understand flirting within the art of the deal. They may feel misled and become violent. Some jobs such as nursing or massage require touching people, sometimes while they are disrobed. Sometimes sympathetic response arousal happens and is harmless but if it's accustomed with flirting definitely it's something to worry about. I have known masseuses that have had to shut down massages in the middle of the session because the client was being perverted. 7. Make it difficult for the client to misconstrue what services you provide. Understand that the pornography industry has given some people unrealistic expectations of men and women in service industries that do house calls. There are literally whole categories of the genre. As kids we probably heard adults say be careful what you consume because filth in filth out. And unfortunately it's not just the pornography industry but also the sex for hire industry that has given rise to some of this. People have advertised massage and other services as covers for their prostitution. Because of this someone may incorrectly conclude you are doing the same. The more professional your setup the less likely they are to get the wrong idea. I like the idea of monogrammed scrubs or business shirts, business logos even if it's just a removable magnet for the car, websites or even just social media pages, and always paperwork. Act official. Just because you are doing an in-house service still run it like a spa with all the necessary waivers and medical questionnaire so if they were hoping to hire a prostitute they figure out real quick that they called the wrong person. 8. Don't take anything valuable whether it's money or wearing expensive jewelry. We want to be the least enticing target as possible. High crackhead Luke might not think about how easily he'll be caught robbing Grandma Ethel's hospice because all he can think about is his next score. 9. Be ready to defend yourself. If someone grabs you be ready to break out and run. Depending on your job and the type of equipment you need you may have a number of tools which you can use to defend yourself or you may have no tools. Small self defense items like key chain sized pepper spray are nice to have. Understand though that pepper spray is an area weapon and will likely hurt you too. You need to know how it will affect you if you become contaminated. There's also various strengths of pepper spray and people have different tolerances. Same goes with things such as stun guns some will barely sting the person and others will make them feel like they were hit by lightning. It is important to research and ask trustworthy sales people that actually know the products for assistance in choosing such devices. Also, understand any weapon you take has the potential for being taken and used against you. I hesitate to advise most people to carry a firearm because most people don't put the proper level of training into carrying a firearm. Most of the time the people I see telling untrained people to carry a firearm are not people who are skilled with a firearm themselves. They just think a firearm instantly solves all the problems. A firearm requires constant practice and training for a variety of circumstances, not just target shooting at the range. A firearm can end up being just as deadly for the person carrying it as the potential assailant if the carrier is unskilled. If you want to carry one and will go get all the necessary training as well as spending your own time practicing then absolutely do it. But if your plan is to buy the gun, take a CCW or basic pistol class, maybe shoot a few times a year, and call it good then don't carry it on the job with you as you are just as likely to end up hurt or dead from it. 10. If you have to run make some noise. If it turns violent and you have to get away wake up the whole neighborhood. Scream, shout, wave your hands, hit something that will make a loud noise if you are running. Hopefully it will attract witnesses. If you can get to your car (if you drove) that's great. But if they are right behind you don't slow down to get into the car and let them catch you. You can go back with a police escort to get it later. Same with personal items or work equipment. Leave them. Run to the neighbor's house or a nearby store if possible, and don't forget to scream and shout the whole wat if you are being chased. Many assailants will give up once you escape the home because now they are visible to witnesses, but don't count on it. A neat device is a personal alarm, it is like a car alarm that is almost sure to get attention and wake the neighborhood.

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