People are on their phones all time. They live in them, work and play on them. And when your head is down, focused on a screen, you can’t see the world around you, making it a dangerous distraction.

Cell phones can be a wonderful safety device, but not when we’re lost in them. At that point a person is instantly vulnerable.

“That’s what’s happening to us when we’re engrossed in our phones. We’re not able to pay attention and things can startle us easier, and people can take advantage of that very, very quickly,” says David Blake.  

Blake, a security expert with Allied Universal in Nashville, says safety is a choice. It should be an easy one, yet people sacrifice their safety. Once they do it’s a hard habit to break.  And there are more cases where we can become physically vulnerable. People spend a lot of time inside their vehicles. How they leave them, what they leave inside and what do they do once inside the car – all can impact personal safety.

To avoid carjackings and burglaries, the best thing to do when arriving, find a parking spot with the least risk. Pick a space where you can drive forward to exit. Second, avoid parking next to a large vehicle that may block your view. And, do not leave a bag in plain sight.  

“Treat it as cash,” Blake says.  If you wouldn’t leave a $100 bill on the seat of your car, don’t leave a phone charger, don’t leave an IPad.”

Situational awareness, the choice to keep personal safety a priority, is the best way to protect yourself. But you don’t have to be in public, Blake says, to put this into practice. At times it depends on internet use, and you can be online anywhere.

“Sometimes people post too much information that gets shared outside of their friends and family network, that criminals pay attention to,” says Blake.  

We give away far too much info on social media. Avoid sharing vacation locations if you’re leaving town. Criminals cruise the web looking for this, and your pictures.

“You’re literally putting yourself in harm’s way over making a choice,” says Blake.  

Make a wise one. Be well informed. It’s up to you to be safe.