Discuss and debate the issues that mean the most to you.
For all the totally sketch murder-y type situations I've put myself in over the years, I actually have a pretty stressed-out little granny inside of me.
I worry about my friends constantly. One had the idea after she installed a webcam (so she could watch her dogs when she is gone) to give me access if I ever need it so that I can check on her in the event I don't hear from her for a while. I plan to do the same with her so she can check in on me. Why not? It makes good sense if you're single. (Obviously: Don't do this with creepy obsessive spying-prone people; only those you trust.)
Now you may be familiar with some of the no-duh but important basic safety articles out there from key fobs to scare baddies away to crucial health checks you really can't ignore, but lately I'm all about some of the newer ideas that are only just emerging to make the world a little safer.
For instance, cast as much shade as you want on this new idea of using the signal of "#X" to avoid texting while driving, but I love it.
The concept is so brilliantly simple and so desperately needed by our society. And it just went viral: The idea that every time you are busy and someone is texting or emailing you and you don't want to seem rude, instead of writing back while you're at the wheel or otherwise distracted (I seriously saw someone on a Citibike the other day texting while riding without a helmet, UGH) pull over or make sure you don't take your eyes off the road when you are stopped.
#1: And that's my first hot stay-alive tip: Use "#X" as the universal symbol of, "Hey, I'm out of commission, dude."
There you go. No excuse. Don't take that four seconds to write back "omw" or "ttyl" that could get you in trouble because you're still engaged and half-paying attention to your phone. Please don't take the chance. Instead, type, "#X" and shut it the hell down. Look. I'm going to "#X" old Alison Freer right now instead of texting her more cryptic emoji messages for help:
#2: Add an "ICE" contact to your phone.
What is "ICE," you ask? It is "in case of emergency." So if anyone finds you hurt or you can't talk but you also have your phone on you, the paramedics or any personnel can quickly scroll down to find out who your "ICE" is. Also it's cool because then when you get a phone call from whoever it is, it reads like this:
You can also download "ICE" as a screensaver on your phone using this app.
#3: When you are going on a date with someone you don't know, tell someone who worries about you where you are going, who you are meeting and that you will check in when you're back.
It's OK if you're not back until 3 a.m. -- people turn off their phones when they go to bed so you're not going to wake them -- and if for whatever reason your friend doesn't get a text the next day, they will know something is up and have a point of reference for where you were and who you were with. (Also, if you're concerned you will wake your friend up if you have some hot sexy all-nighter with the love of your life, just check with your friend ahead of time so you don't wake her at 5 a.m., breathless with all the details of how his kisses made you feel like melting chocolate...or whatever.) If you're more anal than all this, then have your friend actually call you to check in around 11 p.m. or midnight. Then you won't seem rude, and you'll feel good about checking in.
#4: Get a secret code with your family like you are Jack Bauer.
This suggestion came from Adrienne, and I dig it. She writes; "I have a code with my family as an SOS in an emergency kidnapping/hostage situation. I ask them how a particular family member is doing. This particular family member has been dead for 20 years! I came up with this 'emergency plan' 10-15 years ago!"
So I think mine would be: "Is my cat OK?" (I OWN NO CATS.) I hope if I ever become a hostage the bad guy is not a regular xoJane reader. (On the plus side: Best IHTM ever.)
#5: Learn self-defense myths and misconceptions.
#6: Have an actual phone number memorized.
This is helpful if you get arrested and need to make one phone call. You could get shivved in jail. So there.
#7: Know how to escape nightmare situations.
Did you know you can practice how to get out of the trunk of a car? I swear to God. Oh -- and a confession? This tip and the one before came from my friend Ali. She is very savvy about wild stuff like this. She also recommends: buying some radiation emergency supplies (a.k.a. "nuke pills"), having a go-bag filled with gold, running away from a knife and toward a gun in an attack and washing your hands (sing "Happy Birthday," twice). Ali also advises if you get in a car crash, "Angle your car to crash into something that gives. So don't crash into a wall or a tree. That will kill you. Crash into a fence or a bush."
And here's one final over-the-top-yet-probably-good-advice Ali tip, written in her cheerful inimitable style: "Choose to die at the first scene. Most deaths occur after you are moved. That is called scene two. So if someone grabs you and says to shut the f-ck up and get in the car or he'll kill you, choose death then because chances are almost nil once you get into his car and go to the second scene. Decide that for you to actually get into the car, he WOULD have to kill you. So kick, scream bloody murder, gouge his eyes, whatever."
Speaking of nightmare situations, I had never even heard of this glass breaker and seatbelt cutter -- if say your car goes underwater or is suddenly on fire -- until my friend David told me about it, but it seems like the LifeHammer is a smart way to be prepared for something you will hopefully never ever have to face.
#8: Consider using the most modern distress signal currently available.
LifeLine Response is very new, employs drone technology and has already saved several people and a lot of college students are using the device at campuses around the country. Ten bucks. Seems worth it.
Got any of your own life-saving tips? Please don't reply if you are driving. Just type #X. I will get it.
PS: HOW IS MY CAT? (Just practicing.)
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.