Tim Vought gave his three daughters mace as gifts last holiday season.

It’s not an unusual present when you consider safety is Vought’s life. He retired from the Dallas Police Department a year ago after about 20 years of service. Today he teaches self-defense classes at Vought’s Dallas Karate and Aikido.

He believes that personal safety and protecting our families are important.

“A person has an obligation to do everything they can to protect that loved one,” Vought says.

Vought has some suggestions to help protect ourselves and our family and friends while shopping and celebrating the holidays.

• If possible, have stores deliver packages. Avoid carrying packages that block your vision. Carry small packages in a bag that can easily be dropped.
• Warn unknown people not to come too close. Tell them: “That’s close enough.” Don’t be gullible. “Can you help me find…?” is a frequent lead-in to get close to you.
• Remove important papers, checkbooks, keys and anything with your address on it from your purse. Carry them in your pocket. If your purse is nabbed, nothing important is taken, and the keys can’t be used to break into your house or car.
• Shop with a friend.
• Sit in your car a few moments before getting out. Take time to survey the vicinity and know what you’re walking into.
• When approaching your car, be aware of the surroundings and where people are standing. Check under and in the car before getting in. If you find someone, don’t confront them. If possible, leave quickly and call 911.
• Wear low-profile jewelry, or keep better jewelry out of view. Expensive rings and watches area a target – robbers will severely injure you to get them.
• Shout, use a police whistle, create a scene. Do whatever is necessary to make the attack obvious.
• Learn to use legal, easy-to-carry items for self-defense. You would be amazed what a ball point pen or car keys can do to an attacker.
• Buy two cans of pepper mace from a police supply store. Practice at home with one, and carry the other.
• Always be prepared. Decide what you will do if you are attacked before it happens.
• Carry two quarters for emergency calls.
• Remember, packages, papers and cars are replaceable – our lives, and the lives of our family members, are not.

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