September 29, 2011

Staying Safe (tips for teens and adults)

We face risk every day in the things we do. The food we eat is a form of risk taking. You may be allergic to it. Going out and having fun, first date, online chatting, driving, parties with friends and holidays trips –yes, it is a great time in your life, but all of these have a series of risks attached. All our behaviours, emotions, feelings and words also involve some risk in terms of dangerous and unpredictable consequences.
Safe means zero risk and is not achievable at all times in all places under all circumstances. 

Safety Behaviour is managed risk-taking behaviour and is achievable. 

Safety Behaviour depends on Risk Perception.

How much is ‘at risk’? Shaping our perception of risks

Are dangers really increasing or are we more afraid?
Risk perception is an essential factor in every human decision making.

Our perspective affects how we identify risk, how we see the level of risk and in turn, evaluate these risks and make a decision. Each of us envisages risk as a result of what we believe to be the likely outcome, the chance of the outcome actually occurring and how concerned we are if it does happen.
There are internal (memory, experience, mood) and external (physical environment, sensory information) factors that contribute to influence our perception and the decisions we make.
A large element of our memory is based on previous experience, so it is logical that our perception of risk is also influenced by prior experience. Many psychologists believe that we repress memories of traumatic experiences and what we recall is not always an accurate reflection of events or today’s reality.
Our mood affects how we function and our risk perception. Mood gets in the way of retrieving information: if we are feeling grumpy, we are more likely to recall negative events and situations whereas if we are content we focus on happy memories. People in positive moods increase the likelihood of helpful, safe behaviours. People in negative moods use less information to make decisions, are more selective of what information they pay attention to, are less detailed in their approach. As a result, their ability to manage safety risks may be reduced.

Knowledge and information is the core contributor to risk management and safety.

By being informed we are able to better indentify the risks and can make an informed decision because we better understand the consequences. If we do not know or understand the situation or do not have an experience base on which to make informed decisions, we may choose to take a calculated risk level, using 2 risk components such as likelihood and consequence.

Making a decision to be safe

We make decisions every day; consciously or unconsciously, on how we are going to behave. Keep in mind that at every stage of your life you will have risk, it’s important to understand what these risks are and have a plan to minimize the consequences.

Step 1: Identify the risks
Step 2: Decide how risky it is
Step 3: Evaluate the situation and make a decision

Example: Safe Celebrating

Party safe: This or this?
Step 1: Identify the risks:
Risks associated with being young include:
• a desire for sensation
• a tendency towards high-risk behaviours
• the impact of group/peer dynamics
• a lack of maturity

Risks associated with substance use include:
• inexperience with alcohol
• a tendency towards binge drinking -intoxication/ reduced inhibition
• the use of illegal drugs

Risks associated with places chosen for celebrations include:
• unsupervised use of facilities, especially around
water (beaches, rivers, pools)
• limited supervision/emergency support

Risks associated with road use include:
• increased independent use of roads
and vehicles
• inexperience of drivers
• car overcrowding
• many of the activities occurring at night
• fatigue
• limited transport options

Step 2: Decide how risky it is for you using your experience, knowledge, research and our risk level calculator
There are six signs that tell you when a risk is NOT a good idea. If any of the following apply, think twice before you taking the risk. 
1. There's a good chance you could lose everything.
You drink too much, lose your wallet with all ID and money, plus your mobile. No way to get home and no phone to call home.. 
2. You have to put a lot on the line to get only a little.
You risk your health and life experimenting with amphetamines at a party because others told you it was OK. 
3. There are too many factors you can't control.
You drink too much at a party, cannot control those around you and what they do to you, cannot control yourself and what you do, cannot control your stomach (in from of everyone). 
4. You feel the odds are against you.
Peer pressure among friends can be overwhelming if you choose to listen. 
5. There is no way to fix the outcome if it doesn't turn out how you want.
People take photos of you on their mobiles while you are drunk. These get sent to the internet instantly – no control to reverse the situation, they are on the internet forever. 
6. You have to take the risk before having a chance to prepare and/or evaluate it.
You get drunk, get into a fight with a friend, throw up on your friend and break something before you realise you have had too much to drink.
Step 3: Evaluate the situation and make a decision

Make a decision to be safe and develop your own safety plan

The follow tips can be part of your safety plan.

1. Know the people who’s party you are attending
2. If you chose to drink, have a sober ride home
3. Never accept any drink that you did not prepare or see prepared yourself
4. Never leave a party with someone you don not know well
5. Never walk alone at night
6. If you have an alcoholic beverage in your hand – do not go outside
7. If you are drinking, do so responsibly

We hope that our tips and ideas will help you to minimize the risks of having a good time and keep you in safety!

Source: Taking Risks: How to Take Calculated Risks to Get Ahead in Anything

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