This week we’ll answer your questions on safety and security. Let’s consider the following situations and what you need to do:

Situation: I am a female driver and experienced a flat tyre when out. I drove to the nearest fuel station to have the flat repaired because I didn’t want to change the tyre on the road alone. However, because I drove with a flat, the tyre was ruined beyond repair. What could I have done better?

Advice: The consequences, while monetary in this instance, could have been far worse as it may have led to physical harm as well. Therefore here’s what you could have done and should do in the future:

— Assess how far away the nearest tyre repair shop is from you or how long it would take to get help. If they are beyond a reasonable distance or a significant time away then you should change your tyre unless you are physically unable to do so.

— Use an electrical pump to inflate the tyre (easily available and can be plugged into the car cigarette holder to recharge). Alternatively a regular cycle pump with an adaptor for the car valve can be used. This should give you the ability to travel from the site in case of tubeless tyres or in case of a puncture that is deflating slowly.

— Hail someone to assist you or call on rescue services or the police helpline to help. It goes without saying that you should have their numbers handy. Now, when help arrives, here are some general precautions:

Lock your car doors and stand to one side away from them and let them take out the spare wheel and tools to make the change.

Keep just your ID, some cash and your mobile (if you have one) in hand or on your person but don’t carry any more belongings with you, lock any other items inside the car. (You may have to pay for the service and thus shouldn’t be looking for money in your bag in their presence).

If the person for whatever reason says they can’t change the tyre or they require you to check if the work is done properly or show them where the tools are, don’t approach them and guide them from a distance. (Doing so allows you to react quicker and not be caught by surprise if someone has wrong intentions).

Just like prevention is better than cure, taking precautions is better than suffering later

Once they are done, get in your vehicle and head to the nearest tyre shop and immediately have the flat repaired also have the shop check the tyre that was fixed to ensure it was secured properly. (When you leave for the tyre shop, reduce your speed as in case the tyre wasn’t fixed securely, it could come off).


— Have a complete set of tools and a spare wheel in the car at all times.

— Keep a torch and a fluorescent jacket or traffic safety cone in the car.

— Keep an air pump in the car.

— Always pull over to the shoulder of the road when changing the tyre.

— At night time put on the vehicle’s hazard lights; also during low visibility situations such as in rain and fog.

— Save a Tow Service number for your area / city. Some vehicle tracking companies offer this service too.

Situation: Due to professional obligations I am often required to work late at night with no one else present at the office. What measures should I take?

Advice: There are several considerations to keep in mind both about your routines as well as your knowledge of the facility you are at.

— Learn from the person who maintains your workspace:

What doors need to be locked, how to unlock them

Where are the utilities and do you know how to operate (off, on, etc)

Whether the utilities are available 24/7, if not what are the planned outage periods

Who has access and permission to be in the office other than you at odd hours

Who to contact in case of an emergency (building management, admin, authorities, etc.)

Where the emergency supplies are stored (torches, first-aid, fire extinguishers)

Are the elevators accessible and if not which stairwell to use (especially in high-rise building with multiple entrances)

Where can you park (preferably within the facility or nearby:

If you’ve come during day light hours and parked in the regular spot make sure your vehicle is parked closer to your property when it turns dark.

— Who do you inform about your odd hours or even regular late night schedules:

Is the building admin to be notified? Does someone from your office need to know?

Have you informed your family if you are delayed or that you are on site for the extended period?

— If you regularly work late nights or through the night your meals / refreshments need to be planned:

If you bring food from home then do you have the facility to reheat if required?

If you order in then:

Always have the cash ready, exact change.

Don’t invite the delivery person into the office space even if it’s the reception and leave them unattended. Be prepared to take your delivery and have them leave immediately.

If the building has security at the ground level then inform them that you are expecting a delivery.


— Keep a low profile when at your workplace after regular working hours.

— If you are a smoker then know where you can go to smoke within the property and scout the area in the daylight to familiarise yourself with the space.

— If the facility has only centralised air conditioning then ensure it is available through.

If that’s not possible then either have a single unit installed or get a fan.

— If you are in need of regular medication ensure that you keep some at work.

— Avoid setting patterns for arrival and departures as well.

Norbert Almeida is a safety & security advisor.


Twitter: @norbalm


Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, May 3rd, 2015

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