Travelers have to be prepared for a variety of contingencies. The traveling nurse often goes to unfamiliar states and cities where they live temporarily for at least 3 months. The common pitfalls that traveling nurses or others face when they temporarily move to a new city can be avoided with proper preparation and knowledge.
Counter Threat Group has detailed 5 Important safety tips for traveling nurses.
1. Thoroughly Research Your Destination
Prior to traveling to your new location, do your research. The most important step in this process is to know what areas of town to avoid, crime statistics, and most importantly, information you can glean from the hospital contacts where you will be working. This should include, desirable places to live, recreate, eat and shop.
The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), recently cited that 75% of workplace violence incidents occur in healthcare settings. Research the healthcare facility where you will be working and understand the frequency and types of incidents that have occurred In the past.
The people you will be working with who are residents of the city where you will be working are your best sources for information. A useful website, CityRating.com, provides data on crime statistics for American cites.
During the pandemic, find out what the specific Covid requirements are for public places. Restrictions can vary widely in different states and cities.
2. Always Alert Family and/or Friends About Your Whereabouts
While enroute to the city where you will be working, alert family and friends about your itinerary along the way. This includes hotels, route of travel, etc. Today’s environment unfortunately is one of violence and unrest in many large American cities. Now more than ever, it is important to extend your research to where you plan to stay while you are traveling. Some cities that were presumed safe a year ago may not be today.
Consider joining AAA or have the roadside assistance feature of your automobile activated while you travel. In your vehicle, keep extra water, a blanket, good hiking or walking shoes, a flashlight, coat and hat so you will be prepared for any travel contingency or weather situation. This is good preparation, not only for travel to your temporary state, but also for commuting to and from work.
Also, write down your credit card numbers and the 1-800 number for lost or stolen card in case you loose them so you can quickly notify the card company. Keep that information somewhere separate from your card(s) and a copy with a friend or family member.
Keep numbers handy of important hospital contacts, local law enforcement and friends in the city where you temporarily reside.
3. Make Situational Awareness a Habit
Your best self-defense is knowledge and awareness. Being aware of your surroundings and circumstances can save your life.
This is especially important since you may be working shifts that have you commuting at odd hours or at night.
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Avoid rowdy demonstrations and gatherings.
- Limit your distractions. Never walk in a parking lot or public place while looking at your phone. This makes you very vulnerable.
- Park in well-lit areas and as close to entrances as possible.
- Walk with a purpose and make eye contact. Appear confident in unknown surroundings. Notice people who you walk near or who are in proximity to you. Make quick eye contact. When people know they have been noticed, they are less likely to carry-out a nefarious act.
- Carry your keys between your fingers when walking through parking lots. These can be used as a weapon of last resort.
- Check the surroundings near your car before you approach to make sure no one is standing near. Look under your car.
- Don’t make yourself a target (Jewelry, carrying more than you can manage).
- When using Uber or Lyft, make sure the tag number indicated on the app matches the tag of the vehicle that picks you up. Make sure there is a visibly displayed window sticker on the vehicle.
4. When Prevention Fails, Be Prepared to React
- If someone tries to force you to a different location, do not go. Make noise, scream “fire”. Run if you can. Fight if necessary.
- Take a self-defense class before your travels.
- Carry a weapon only if you’re trained and willing to use it. Know the gun laws of your state of travel. Consider pepper spray or mace.
- Identify the exits. When you are inside any building – the hospital, businesses, restaurants, shopping centers, theaters or churches – always take a minute to identify the exits. If you pre-think where these are, you will instinctively be able to evacuate the premises quicker during an emergency.
5. Trust Your Instincts
This is the most important defense mechanism that is built into each of us. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Avoid that situation or person.
Your personal safety Is your responsibility. Do your research. Develop a vigilant mindset. Most importantly, your best self-defense is knowledge and awareness.
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