“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Crime is a reality in every town and every neighborhood across the United States. Crime can happen in the most sleepy little town or a tourism-heavy town like Myrtle Beach. Millions of people of all different backgrounds visit the Myrtle Beach area every year, which can attract less savory characters looking to take advantage of tourists to our fair town. A few areas locals should consider avoiding late at night include major tourist-focused areas like the Boardwalk, most areas along Ocean Blvd., City Center and 3rd Avenue South from Highway 501 through to the waterfront. While these aren’t the only places crime can happen, these particular areas have been experiencing issues with crime. Here are some additional tips for awareness and self-defense that are good to know, no matter where you live.

1. Always be aware! Whether walking to or from your vehicle or out for a run, remain acutely aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by your cell phone, and don’t play music so loudly through your headphones that you can’t hear noises around you. Awareness is the most important factor to avoid becoming a victim of a crime.

2. Always trust your instinct! If a person, location or situation gives you a bad feeling or feels off in some way, listen to your instinct and remove yourself from the vicinity as quickly as you can without attracting attention to yourself. This also applies when driving. If you get an uncomfortable feeling when pulling into a gas station or store parking lot, keep driving. Our internal warning system is very accurate – if something just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

3. Don’t accept help from strangers. If a stranger offers to help you carry packages or groceries, politely decline and remove yourself from the area as quickly and safely as possible.

4. Never open your door for anyone you don’t recognize or let any stranger into your home – including children. Many attackers use children as decoys to get you to open your door and bust their way in. Even if the child says they need to call 911, do not let them in but call 911 for them and stay on the line with the dispatcher until help arrives.

5. Don’t converse with anyone who approaches you in a parking lot claiming to be selling any kind of product. A common ruse used by kidnappers is to approach you in the parking lot of a store stating they are selling an item for far cheaper than the store, often something they ask you to smell or taste – perfume, cleaning product, energy drink and similar. If you fall for it, the “product” renders you unconscious so they can secure you in your own trunk and kidnap you in your own vehicle.

6. Don’t allow yourself to be moved to a second location. If attacked, do whatever is needed to prevent your attacker from moving you from the scene of attack to another location. Statistics show chances of survival plummet when the victim is moved to second place. Scream, run and fight to stop from being moved from the scene.

7. Never investigate unusual sounds outside. If you hear running water, a baby crying or an animal whimpering outside your home, call the police immediately. These are common sounds criminals record or create (by opening outside faucets full blast for running water) and use to lure you out to investigate, making you victim to home invasion.

8. If you can run, do it! Even if your attacker has a gun, take advantage of any opportunity to run, preferably in a zig-zag pattern when possible. Hitting a moving target is difficult, and if the attacker is brazen enough to actually shoot and draw attention to himself, the chances he will land a lethal shot are statistically low. Injured but alive is better than kidnapped and killed.

9. Never leave a beverage of any kind unattended or unwatched in any public place. This applies not only to bars or clubs but also in ordinary restaurants or even while enjoying the beach. It is surprisingly easy for attackers to slip a knock-out drug into your beverage and convincingly remove you from the area.

10. Keep your vehicle locked at all times. When you get out to pump gas, lock the vehicle while you fill your tank. When you get out in a store parking lot, lock the doors immediately when you exit vehicle while you still have a good view of it. When returning to your car, if you have a remote lock, don’t unlock the vehicle until you get to it. Predators look for opportunities to slip into unlocked vehicles and hide in wait for the driver. Also, don’t sit in your unlocked car in any place. If you must sit in your car to make a phone call before driving, lock the doors immediately upon getting in and leave as soon as possible.