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REALTOR® Safety Month: Do You Carry a Safety Device for Added Protection?

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, Contributing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

REALTOR® Safety Month is a reminder to real estate professionals that safety needs to be a priority. Everyday situations can be potentially dangerous: You’re meeting with strangers all of the time and often in vacant homes — extra precautions need to be taken.

Have you ever felt your safety at risk while working in real estate? If so, do you carry a safety device with you as added protection? Take our poll below.

While you can encounter dangerous people while working in real estate, that doesn’t mean you should go arm yourself with a handgun to take to your showings, says safety expert Robert Siciliano, CEO of RealtySecurity.com in Boston, and author of “The Safety Minute: Living on High Alert” (Safety Zone Press, 2003).

“Your brain is your best defense mechanism,” Siciliano says. “Know how to understand and remove yourself from a dangerous situation and understand the basic safety techniques. Once you understand that, you can determine what — if anything — you want to carry for personal protection.” (Read: Real Estate’s 6 Most Dangerous Everyday Situations)

If you feel you still need added protection, Siciliano says that some real estate professionals have found a ballpoint pen is all they need. “It can do a tremendous amount of damage if stabbed into the chest, throat, eyes, or groin,” he says.

Some real estate professionals take pepper spray or a stun gun.

“But realize these can also be used against you,” Siciliano says.

If you carry a gun or knife, Siciliano recommends being properly trained on how to fight with these weapons.

“Just carrying a gun and knife is a false sense of security and can put you and your client at risk,” Siciliano says. “You need to be properly trained in how to fight with a gun or knife the same way law enforcement would.”

View a Buyer’s Guide slideshow of personal safety products.

Comments
  1. I can tell you that agents will buy safety products after hearing stories like the one in the news this week. The general population will, as well. It is human nature to want to protect ourselves after hearing of a crime involving a situation that may happen to us. The 2 agents killed and 1 robbed in Ohio this week serves as a reminder that agents need to take proactive steps to avoid dangerous situations. The sad irony is that these crimes happened during Real Estate Agent Safety Month. I have talked to over 140 agents this week and more tomorrow. I will sell a lot of pepper spray for a few months to come. They want to arm themselves in an educated manner. They refuse to be helpless and unable to defend themselves.

    I have been a real estate agent, am now a safety trainer for agents, and a safety product expert. I have walked in these agent’s shoes and know that they feel helpless meeting strangers in empty houses (even though they know they shouldn’t) and feel like sitting ducks in open houses. Agents want hands-on options for stopping a would-be perpetrator. While we can prevent crimes simply by trusting our instincts, acting on that voice and getting out of a dangerous situation, we need to have a back-up plan. Police officers rely upon less than lethal weapons (pepper spray), as well as lethal weapons. Not just their brains. And they are well-trained.

    I advise agents to be aware of their surroundings, know what is happening around them and to pay attention to everyone and everything. They also need to have their weapon accessible, whether it is pepper spray, a personal alarm or handgun. If they are doing this, no one will be able to sneak up on them and take their weapon away and use it against them. They will have it ready to use and will activate it before the person can get close enough. If not paying attention, anything can be taken from you and used as a weapon against you.

    Test your pepper spray, know how to use it, know what it will and won’t do, make sure it is in working order. Make sure you have the right formula. Understand when an alarm will work, know the limitations. if you choose to carry a gun, practice, practice and make sure you are well-trained. Also, know that nothing is 100% guaranteed to work in every situation. Study your options and be safe!

  2. David

    Go to http://www.sabrered.com. They make the spray for the police and have sprays that support the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

  3. Good points. Taser’s head office is about 1 mile from my home. Maybe they sell retail over the counter at the head office. I worry about my wife as she does residential (I do commercial). Her demographic hopefully is safer as many have to proof up to view a property so you know who you are dealing with. Its still a concern……

  4. Just another note (can you tell that I am passionate about this topic?), if you choose to buy pepper spray, educate yourself. All sprays are not created equally. I specialize in the sell of pepper spray, as well as teach safety classes. My theme is education and I know that there is quite a bit of confusion around this product. Know the difference between tear gas, mace, Mace and pepper spray. Know what it will and won’t do. Know when to use it. Test it when you first buy it and test it once a year. Read my pepper spray fact sheet here: http://www.safetyandsecuritysource.com/peppersprayfacts.html.

    If you received an e-mail about using WASP SPRAY for personal safety, (because it shoots further), DON’T Do IT. Read here for the reasons why :Note: If you read a can of wasp spray, you will see that it is illegal to use it for anything other than it’s intended pupose. So, if you accidentally spray someone, you are in legal trouble!

    We don’t know what wasp spray does to humans, does it burn, does it irritate the skin or eyes, make it hard to breathe? We don’t know. It could be a minor irritant and stop no one or it could cause permeneant disibility or injury. We don’t know. Stick with what is known. Pure pepper spray. Not tear gas (CN or CS), not a combination product. 2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU’s), no less! At least 10% pepper. Nothing is 100%. But this is what law enforcement officers trust their lives with, so it must be good enough for us.

    Read my pepper spray versus wasp spray blog (scroll down to find the post).
    http://www.safetyandsecuritysource.blogspot.com/

    Continue being safe!

  5. Dawn

    It’s important to be careful. I don’t let anyone I don’t know get between me and the door, I don’t follow men alone into the basement or upstairs in open houses and I try to always meet people at the office first. I’ve honestly only been ‘creeped out” by one person in many, many years in this business but as long as he was hanging around the property (and it was much too long) I stood by the front door. We can’t be too trusting. Remember that more women are killed by their domestic partners than by anyone else – point being – even if you’ve worked with someone for a long period of time, do you really know you are safe with them? Don’t ever let your guard down.

  6. Realtors face a higher degree of risk than almost any professional group. They meet strangers daily, alone, and in vacant buildings. While we’d like to think we can trust potential home buyers & sellers, the truth is we MUST be cautious in these risky situations – sometimes even with people we know.

    DivaDefender promotes the idea that we must each manage our personal safety by being more aware, avoiding risky situations when possible, and being prepared to defend ourselves when risk turns to danger.

    My website, http://www.StunGunsAndStuff.com, offers a wide range of non-lethal safety and self-defense CHOICES like stun guns, tasers, pepper sprays, personal alarms, home safety devices, door braces, safety lights, and more. Please check it out.

    I agree with Tracey, it is important to know how to use these products. However, it is not rocket science. They all come with instructions but DivaDefender offers training too. It is just as important though to DEVELOP & PRACTICE your defense plan. Practice physically and mentally what you would do if someone attacked you as you walk to your car or during an open house. For example, if your defense plan includes pepper spray – is it readily available or at the bottom of your purse? what’s your escape route? are you ready to respond to the attacker without hesitation? In the blink of an eye you’ll need to flip pepper spray to ready position, cover as much of face as possible, spray the attacker, escape the scene, and call for help. Can you? The successful execution of any plan requires PRACTICE.

    I’ve met with many realtors who are very concerned about their safety and are looking for ways to be safer. They are my most loyal customers and are grateful that these products are available and affordable not just for them but for their family and friends too. And I am glad to be there for them.

  7. Being in real estate, safety is always important when you are alone. I think it’s a good idea to carry pepper spray at least. I’ve had to sell a lot of commercial real estate and gone to some skeptical areas to show buildings. You always hear stuff on the news about the bad areas of where I’ve shown buildings in Phoenix as well. That’s why I bought a taser gun for my own safety. I feel a lot better walking around prepared versus not prepared.

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