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Seniors get tips on self-protection

November 26, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Determined not to become crime statistics, about four dozen seniors learned how to protect themselves Monday afternoon during a SALT seminar at the Hagerstown AMVETS on Frederick Street.

Sponsored by Seniors And Law Enforcement Together, the seminar was conducted by Deputy 1st Class James Holsinger.

Holsinger discussed personal safety and financial security, sparking questions from the audience.

"I want to know if I can carry pepper spray," said Violet Rice, a retired correctional officer.

Holsinger explained in great detail how pepper spray works and warned the seniors that they must be experienced in using it or they could spray themselves and become unable to fend off an attacker.

Edith Sweigert was concerned about how to get pepper spray off a person once it has been sprayed.

"When we have to use pepper spray on a person, we always decontaminate them when we get to the jail," Holsinger said. And that is done with water.

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William Donaldson wanted to know if police ever set up criminals to catch them in the act.

"Some police do, but on a case-by-case basis," Holsinger said.

In areas of traffic safety, Holsinger stressed to the older drivers that they should stay with their vehicles if they have a minor accident or their vehicles become disabled. He said in most cases, staying in a locked car is better than getting out and walking around, especially at night.

"I also want you to know you can't be found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident if you drive to a nearby safe place in a case like that," Holsinger said.

He said the same holds true if a person feels unsafe stopping in a remote area for a police officer as long as he or she goes only as far as the first safe, well-lighted, public place.

Other tips for safe driving included:

  • Always hold the keys between your thumb and fingers as you approach your car, both for a weapon and so you can get in the car quickly.

  • Check your back seat to make sure no one is hiding there.

  • Park near lights so you won't have to walk through the dark.

  • Always have a cellular telephone so you can call for help.


Seniors often are victimized when walking along streets and in malls, Holsinger said.

"The most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings at all times," Holsinger said. "If you notice someone watching you, make quick eye contact so they know you have seen them."

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