Have you ever been driving to an appointment and had a bad feeling about where you are going? You’ve been driving down a country road, in the middle of no-where, OR, through a dodgy part of town and wondered where you were going to end up? Have you arrived at your client’s house and felt uncomfortable? Perhaps someone at the appointment has made an inappropriate remark? Do you sometimes wonder what would happen if something bad happened to you while you were at a job? How can we, as mobile freelancers, ensure we stay safe?
Of course, we all want to believe “It won’t happen to me” and I sincerely hope that nothing bad ever does happen to you on a job, dear friends! But I believe it’s important to at least take a couple of precautions. Several years ago, I read a discussion in an international makeup artists group where the questions was asked “How do you ensure your safety as a mobile HMUA?” and as an Australian, I was actually shocked to read the number of American artists who said they carried a gun with them. Obviously the laws are different in the US, and from what I understand, gun laws are different from state to state, so those artists were acting within the law of where they lived. I’m not here to discuss the merits of gun laws in any country – that’s a whole other kettle of fish I don’t want to go anywhere near! Carrying a weapon can be one way to ensure your safety, whether that’s a gun, knife or even pepper-spray/mace, but for many of us, that’s not legal where we live and may well be something we would never consider doing in our working life anyway… But, we still need to stay safe, right?
Ensuring your personal safety is important, so here’s my top 3 tips to stay safe.
Know where you’re going.
Do some research before you head out. Check out the address on Google maps to get an idea of the suburb or surrounding area. I remember last year during formal season I took a job where I THOUGHT I knew the neighbourhood I was going to. It turns out, that I was about 20 minutes outside this actual suburb in a really remote country area, and the family lived behind an electronic gate and several kilometres up a long, steep driveway. Now, of course, everything was fine, they were a lovely family and the views were AMAZING, but during the drive I remember thinking “Where in the heck am I actually going???” and for a split second I wondered who would find my body should anything happen to me!!
Take an assistant / chaperone.
There’s safety in numbers. If you do need to go to an area that seems dodgy, or that you’re not comfortable with, take an assistant with you, or maybe get a friend to come with you and wait in the car (bonus points if it’s a big burly male friend!) You can always get your big burly friend to help you carry your kit to the door so that any potentially dodgy characters know that you’re not alone.
Make sure someone always knows where you are.
When you get a job, one of the first things your employer will do is have you fill out an emergency contact details. Now that’s all very well if you have an employer, but of course, when you are a freelancer, you’re self employed, so its up to you. There are several ways that you can make sure that someone knows where you are. Obviously you can tell someone before you go out to each and every job, or, you could have a shared digital calendar with your partner, parent or trusted friend so that if you went missing they would at least know where to look! A shared calendar can get messy though, how do you ensure they only see your jobs?
Some of our Bridal Beauty Pro App users are getting their partner (or mum or whoever) to download the app onto their phone and then the artist can log in on that phone too (there’s no extra charge to log in on multiple devices). That way their partner or family member always has access to the artists calendar, along with the addresses and contact details of their clients, so somebody always knows where the artist is. I think this is genius! AND there is also the added bonus, that in the event that something happens to you, and you are unable to get to an appointment, your partner/family member is able to get in touch with the client. I did a wedding at the beginning of this year that I booked because the hairstylist who was meant to do the job had been rushed to hospital in the middle of the night before the wedding. Fortunately, her husband was able to access the details of the wedding and find a replacement (me!)
Bonus Tip (for the super wary): Personal Safety Beacons
If you regularly go out into the middle of nowhere, or into dodgy neighbourhoods, you could consider getting a Personal Safety Beacon. This is a device that works with GPS satellite technology and if you press one button it will send an emergency message to a pre-determined mobile phone number or email, or even contact emergency services. Originally designed for hikers and those going into remote areas where there may be other dangers, there’s no reason you couldn’t use such a device as a mobile freelancer – except that maybe they do cost quite a bit!
Whatever you decide to do, the bottom line is your personal safety is paramount. If you ARE in a situation where you are feeling uncomfortable, you are TOTALLY within your rights to get up and leave. Some artists have clauses in their contract ensuring a safe working environment. And if you’re in a situation you feel may not be safe for someone else (I’m thinking back on some of the test shoots I did with young models and dodgy “photographers” when I was first starting out), then speak up, or, like I used to do, hang around to make sure the other person stays safe too!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one…