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Personal Safety Tips

Released: 5/27/2022 6:00:00 AM

Vehicle Safety

  • Know where you are going and how to get there. Have GPS programmed ahead of time to have directions ready.
  • Keep your cell phone with you and charged at all times.
  • Keep your car in good running condition to avoid breakdowns. Tires, lights and windshield wipers should all be in good repair and functional.
  • Keep at least a half tank of gas in your car at all times.
  • Always drive with your car doors locked. Keep your windows rolled up whenever possible. If necessary, roll down a window to your earlobe level only.
  • Do not wear jewelry; conceal valuable items (such as your tablet/phone).
  • Avoid carrying a purse or pocketbook. Have some change and your identification in your pocket. Lock your pocketbook in the trunk of your car before leaving your home.
  • Be careful of clothing, mail, magazines, etc. that could identify you and where you live. Turn the address label side of any mail or magazines face down on your seat so someone cannot learn your name or where you live.
  • Do not give rides to hitchhikers.
  • Do not get out of your car to help another motorist in trouble. Instead, signal them you will get help and call the police from your cell phone.
  • If someone follows you while you are driving, head for the nearest police or fire station, or open gas station or other business, or well-lighted residence where you can safely call police. If possible, try to jot down the car’s license plate number and description. If there are no nearby safe areas then repeatedly honk your car’s horn and activate your emergency flashers.
  • In parking ramps and especially underground or enclosed parking structures, be especially alert and careful. Do not waste time getting into your car.


Exiting Your Vehicle

  • Park as close to your client’s home as possible. Know how you will gain access to the client’s home or apartment.
  • If you park in daylight hours, think about how the location will look if you need to return when it is dark. Look for well-lighted areas when you park your car. Do not park next to areas that could conceal a potential threat, such as shrubbery, buildings, dumpsters, etc.
  • Before exiting your car, first look around to see if there are any threats to your safety.
  • Lock your car. Close car windows.


Walking To and From Your Destination

  • Have your cell phone with you.
  • Do not let your mind wander.
  • Keep your head up. Do not look down or away. Make brief eye contact with all people you meet.
  • Use public walkways and avoid shortcuts, especially at night.
  • Be aware of places along your path of travel that could conceal a threat (shrubbery, building recesses, etc.). Avoid or keep a distance from these areas whenever possible.
  • Make sure you maintain contact with your office during your workday.
  • If you think someone is following you or you see a large gathering up ahead, cross the street. Head for a well-populated, well-lighted area at night.
  • Wear clothing that will allow you maximum mobility if it is necessary to run. Be prepared to drop your valuables (nursing bag, tablet), since these things can slow you down.


Using Elevators

  • Have a plan. Keep the plan simple. Commit to your plan. Know your escape routes.
  • Respond to instinct, intuition or gut reactions; they are almost always right.
  • When others get on the elevator, wait for them to push their floor buttons first.
  • Never get on, or stay on, an elevator with someone who makes you feel uneasy. If you can, get off when other passengers do. You can always take another elevator.
  • If you notice a person already in the elevator has not pushed a floor button, do not get off at your floor. Instead, go to the main floor and seek out a place of safety and report the suspicious activity to police.
  • If you are on an elevator, stand in front of the control panel. If your safety is threatened and you are assaulted, push all “floor buttons” immediately. With the doors opening at several floors, your opportunity to escape and seek help increase; the attacker is less likely to succeed or continue the attack.


Making a Home Visit

  • Dress appropriately and within guidelines established by the agency. Wear comfortable shoes, ones that you can run in, if necessary.
  • In the home, if you have fears about your safety, leave. Visits can be rescheduled.
  • Notify your manager of unsafe or potentially unsafe home situations. They will want to conference with you to make a safe plan for you, or to make a plan to discharge the patient if necessary.
  • Prior to getting to home, call patient to verify all pets are secured in another room.
  • Know the telephone number of your agency, the local police and the fire department.
  • Keep your nursing bag within your sight. When you are not using it, keep it closed.
  • Do not attempt to break up a domestic argument. The situation can quickly turn on you.
  • Never walk into a home uninvited. Always knock and be assured verbally that someone is home before entering, even when the client has left the door unlocked for you.


Entering Your Vehicle

  • Always have your car keys in your hand so you do not have to waste precious time fumbling for them. Seconds can make a difference to your personal safety.
  • As you approach your car, check for potential threats to your safety. Look alongside, around, and beneath your car and check the interior of your car before you get in; someone may be hiding from you. At night, use a flashlight device.
  • If you observe someone in your car, do not approach. Instead, leave as quickly as you can and call the police.
  • Always check to make sure you do not have a flat tire or other visible damage to your car that will render it disabled.


If Your Car Breaks Down

  • Again, in these situations, have your cell phone charged and accessible. You can dial 9-1-1 to state your emergency and request help.
  • Always make sure someone knows when to expect you; maintain regular contact with the office.
  • Keep your car doors locked and your windows rolled up.
  • Do not raise the hood of your car. It can block your view and may call attention to your situation.
  • Carry and place a CALL POLICE sign in one of your windows facing traffic. Alternatively, tie a white cloth to your door handle or car’s antenna.
  • If someone approaches to help and your window is down, roll it up so it is only open about one inch. Tell them the police have already been called but that you would not mind if they called again.


Winter Safety

  • Keep at least a half tank of gas in your vehicle at all times.
  • Keep your car in good working order (tires, wipers and lights). Brush snow completely off your car including all windows so you have a good view of the road and others around you.
  • Keep extra washer fluid, a scraper, shovel and kitty litter (for traction if needed)
  • Keep your cell phone charged and with you. Buy a car charger if you don’t have one.
  • Keep a blanket, water, power bars, flashlight, changes of clothes for your trunk.
  • Know where you are going and how to get there so you are not going off on side roads which may not be maintained as well as highways and main routes.
  • Do not sit for more than a few minutes in your car with the engine running. You may have an exhaust leak that you are unaware of and could be overcome by carbon monoxide.
  • Keep in close contact with the office.
  • In the event of a true emergency, VNA staff is considered essential personnel. Emergency plans for our staff and patient will be implemented.


If The Worst Happens

  • Avoid panicking or showing anger or fear. Remaining calm is your best alternative.
  • Never get into a power struggle over your personal valuables or work equipment; it is not worth the risk of serious bodily harm or death. GIVE THEM UP!
  • You can use reasonable force in self-defense. You are allowed to protect yourself with something you are carrying (e.g., keys) but you may not carry a weapon.
  • If you decide to defend yourself, be aware that your attacker might be stronger than you, or take what you are using in self-defense and use it against you. It is better just to shout loudly and run away.
  • Shout “fire” rather than “help”; it can get more results.



  1. Be Safe, Be Secure, Your practical Guide to Crime Reduction. The Home Office Communications Directorate, Feb. 2003
  2. Crime Prevention and Safety.
  3. Orientation to Home Care Nursing. Carolyn J. Humphrey & Paula Milone-Nuzzo



Erie Branch

Our security guards are an additional personal safety resource available to you. We always have two security guards scheduled each evening, available to any nurse working, especially those going into high crime areas. They can accompany you to any location where you feel there may be a safety concern, not just the city. More guards can be scheduled based on our needs. One guard is located at Buffalo General Medical Center between the hours of 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; short notice is needed.

Between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., and on weekends,  an on-call guard is available. Please give as much notice as possible, so the guard can meet you in a timely manner. The guards can meet at the location or a predetermined location to follow you. A guard is available 24/7 for security escorts.

The security guards are all active or retired law enforcement or firefighters who have hands-on experience and training in providing security services and with real-life crime situations.


Niagara Branch

Security guards are available for visits in Niagara County with some advance notice. Contact your manager to arrange this.


Genesee/Chautauqua/Allegany Branches

Branch managers have arrangements with local law enforcement agencies to be available to accompany staff as needed.


Guard Contact Numbers

On-call guard phone number is (716) 863-6340 or call Kaleida Health Public Safety Dispatch at (716) 859-5442 to arrange for a guard.