[dropcap]As[/dropcap] summer days fade and crisp autumn days take over, the sun sets earlier. When darkness falls, it is important to keep personal safety tips in mind, especially when the holiday shopping season gets into full swing. Christmas, after all, is only a few months away.

Officer Jeanne MacKenzie, Crime Stoppers coordinator and public information officer for the Tulsa Police department, advises evening shoppers to park in a well-lit area.

“Also, make sure to lock your car,” she says. That might sound simple, but most people would be surprised to know many people leave their cars unlocked, making it easy for thieves to get in, she says. Another tip is to not leave valuables in plain view.

“When you approach your car, have your key ready and check the inside before entering,” MacKenzie says. “If you notice anything that is not right, notify police or security.”

Officer Leland Ashley, also with Crime Stoppers and the Tulsa Police Department, stresses being alert and aware of your surroundings.

“Avoid displaying or carrying large sums of money,” he says. “If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a business or a well-lighted location, and beware of strangers approaching you. We always advise people to call police or go to a well-populated, lit area if they feel like they are being followed or feel unsafe.”

Since the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater massacre in July 2012, the number of active-shooter incidents in our country has increased and made the basic rules of personal safety change quite a bit, MacKenzie says.

When faced with an armed aggressor, some people’s first instincts may be to freeze and hide, but, if possible, you should fight that response and get yourself and others out. Also, when trying to escape, your last worry should be grabbing your mobile phone.

keys-shutterstock_54850321“Leave it and just get out,” MacKenzie says.

If you can’t exit, and you know your threat is in between you and the exit, you need to hide. Then, do all you can to prevent the shooter from entering the room and causing injury. Lock the door. Turn the lights off. This not only makes it harder for the shooter to fire at you, but it lets time be your ally.

“Two or three minutes in an active-shooter [situation] is a lot of time,” says McKenzie. “That time allows the police to come in and do their job.”

It’s also important to use a landline to call for help because the address of your location is going to be accessible at the police dispatch center.

“Lastly, you have to fight for your life,” McKenzie says. “Statistics show that most people who are shot by a gun survive. Just keep fighting. Fighting buys time.”

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