Unfortunately, not everyone has the benefit of working with other team members present at all times. In some cases, though a person may work alone, like a teacher, there are often other people in the same building who can come in and lend a helping hand. However, some people work remotely in other people’s homes or living areas with no support of back up in close proximity. Often times care workers are going into the homes of their clients or making visits to a home as a caseworker or provide drop in care. In some cases the contact could be for the very first time and have lots of unknowns. In these situations there are several things a person can do to keep themselves safe while out doing work by ones self.
First, always make sure someone has knowledge about your schedule and where bouts. Try to avoid stopping in at the last minute without at least informing someone that you are making a visit to a client’s home. Make sure someone knows where you are stopping and the approximate amount of time you will be spending at the visit. In this case, if something would happen someone is aware of your location and can send help if you cannot contact help yourself.
Second, upon arrival assess the situation and location. Make sure that you do not simply walk up to the door without looking around the neighborhood, property, and assessing for possible threats that can impede your going up to the door such as a gate or a dog. These can also be threats if you need to leave quickly for your safety. Spending a little time becoming familiar with the area could be a great help if you need to suddenly leave due to an unsafe episode.
Third, make sure you take a phone with you and have it ready in case you need assistance. Make sure that you have a preset number that you can push while you try to deescalate a troublesome situation. Being able to alert a co-worker or administrative assistant could assist you if an episode becomes violent or dangerous for yourself.
Finally, either prior to or upon entering the dwelling stop and make small talk. This time will allow you to scan beyond the person letting you in and give you time to acclimate yourself to the surroundings. Look for possible dangers or hazards. Once again, knowing your surroundings will allow you to know how to best safely exit if the need arise do to an unsafe incident.
By following a few simple steps, a person can increase their safety. When working remotely, it is more important to be conscious of one’s surroundings because there is not immediate assistance from others in helping with safety. Most important is allowing your senses to analyze any potential risks to your safety and trusting your “gut sense”. If something just doesn’t feel right, make an excuse to break the appointment and make arrangements to have assistance present upon returning.
Tim Geels – Senior Vice President of Instruction