Putting your personal safety first on the job is mandatory in house cleaning. Do you know how to remove yourself from a dangerous situation?
You need to know how to protect yourself and that requires situational awareness. Make sure you’re safe at all times and take a look at these tips for improvised self-defense.
Listen: Safety First on the Job
Watch: Safety First on the Job
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
Personal Safety on the Job
Personal safety on the job. What do you need to know to stay safe while cleaning houses? There was a house cleaner, and she wrote in and shared this story.
“I had something really bad happen. I was in a house that was slated to be a move out clean. And usually, that means a vacant house. The occupant was still present as were a few items. I was happily moving a blanket, and a couple of backpacks so I could vacuum when I found a handgun under the backpack.
Now I watch TV and I have a wild imagination. And I thought it was very careless of them. After all, what if I lost my mind and I decided to shoot her? Or what if I moved it and I accidentally fired it and shot myself? I picked it up by its tip and I put it back in the backpack and I was horrified. How could a responsible person be so careless? I hope no one else encounters this.”
House Cleaners Should Take a Personal Safety Course
Firstly, you picked it up by its tip. Picking up a firearm the proper way is paramount to the safety of you and the people around you. What is recommended from here on out is that you do take a personal safety course.
Whether you are a house cleaner of any sort, because you will be in a situation from here through eternity, somewhere along the way, where you have to protect yourself, and you need situational awareness.
I Took a Personal Safety Course in My Twenties
So back in my early twenties, I took a personal safety course and I was house cleaning at the time. And the instructor pulled me aside and he said, “Angela, your reflexes are good, but they’re not fast enough to save your life.” And he sent me to another instructor that specialized in knife and dagger martial arts. And he wanted me to learn to protect myself in the event that there was ever a need to do so.
But the whole gist of that class was situational awareness. Be aware of what’s around you at all times. Be aware of the tools that you have on you, and what you can use in case of emergency, and then decide in advance how you’re going to respond to a particular situation, and if you ever find yourself in that situation, that or something close will trigger because you’ve already prepared for it.
Then you behave in that certain way and you either run to safety or you avoid the situation, or because you are aware, you anticipated the situation and you avoided it altogether.
You Don’t Need to Go and Become a Black Belt
So, you don’t need to go out and become a black belt or whatever, or a kung fu artist. But learn personal safety and learn how to handle these types of situations. Even if you are working by yourself, there is a lot of stuff that happens in a home where you are responsible for the home, the people around you, and yourself.
And even if you’re with another team member inside a home, oftentimes you guys break up and you go to separate parts of the home. So, you are again, working by yourself and someone could creep up on you or something. Now it doesn’t usually happen, but to be aware is paramount to the success and safety of your business.
What to Keep On You to Stay Safe
So, there are a couple of things to mention. I’m wearing a tool belt right now of a bunch of cleaning items that can also dub as personal defense weapons if I need them. The very first one is my smartphone. The smartphone is tracking me via GPS. And so, if for any reason I pushed the button on my iPhone five times, it calls 911. I don’t have to have an audible conversation with them at all.
What that means is, “Come help. I’m in an emergency, I’m in danger.” Now I can call 911 and I can have a conversation, but if I can’t have a conversation, pushing my button five times will trigger a 911 call and call my two emergency contacts. So, if you haven’t set up emergency contacts in your phone, you can do that right now under the medical app inside your phone.
I Keep a Scraper in My Belt
The next tool is a scraper. This one has two ends; one is a plastic scraper and the other one is a razor. So if I ever find myself in a situation where I need a razor blade to cut, maybe my hands are tied or something, I have a tool on me to do that. Also, a razor, a very sharp razor can do a lot of serious damage if the situation ever presents itself.
This is a regular tool that we use to clean. Again, it has protective coatings on the end so that it’s not going to poke us while in our apron, but this carried with us at all times.
If I find myself in a bad situation, I also have my Mace. And there’s a little hole in my apron where the string hangs through. So, all I have to do is take the string, pull on it, and itt pulls it right through my apron and now I’m ready to use it.
I Always Keep a Pair of Scissors On Me
Another tool that I have on me at all times is a little pair of very sharp scissors. And these I use for cleaning the beater brush of the vacuum. So that’s what this is designed to do and if it’s right in the bottom, it lays down flat in the bottom of my apron, so it’s not poking anything. And if I move around or I bend, it doesn’t poke me either.
But it’s very sharp and it’s the reason we carry this, is because if need be, it dubs as a small tool that can do a lot of damage.
Then also I have a screwdriver. The screwdriver gives me a little bit more of a jolt in the event that I have to break out a window or something like that. It’s got a very direct pop to it. I use it for lots of things on the job like fixing the backs of the toilet seats, where the toilet seats have slid off and the screw has come undone. It’s good for lots of things, but it’s also great as a small defense weapon should you need it.
I Always Have My Car Keys With Me
Another one that is not a weapon, is my car key. In the event that I need to run to safety, if I can get out of the house, I can run to my car, at least I have my car key on me. I can jump in the car and I can drive to safety.
So I don’t want to cause harm to anyone else, especially when I’m in someone else’s home, because all my rights, saying, “Well, you entered my home and my life was threatened,” and all these things do not apply if I am the stranger in the home.
And so, the very first thing that I want to do is I want to get out of the home and I want to run to safety if at all possible. So, I want us to be aware and it’s being aware of things like where are the exits? And if you are cleaning and there’s an open door behind you, do you know what’s behind that open door?
You Need to Have Awareness to Keep Yourself Safe
You need to have these kinds of awareness ideas so that you can keep yourself safe under all situations. You’ll find yourself, even in restaurants, where you will sit after you’ve had training, with your face to the door, not your back to the door because you don’t want anything surprising and creeping up on you.
So even today, situational awareness, it’s a 360 view to know what’s around you, and what is there at all times. That way you have choices and you can remove yourself from a possibly dangerous situation and get to safety.
You Want to Encourage Customers to Be Safe Too
Now in the situation where the customer had a firearm, that is their right to have a firearm inside their home. And so, as unfortunate as that may be, homeowners should not have stuff like that laying around. Do not put house cleaners in a situation like that where they have a weird wild thought or a wild imagination.
And if you are the house cleaner, the homeowner shouldn’t be in that kind of a situation either.
So, let’s make sure that when we have house cleaners come to our house, we don’t leave things like that out for anyone to find.
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