As a female bartender or server, you deserve to feel safe and respected on the job, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. With a bit of alcohol in their systems, customers can become aggressive, unruly, or feel entitled to make inappropriate comments. Though you can’t prevent this from happening, having a safety plan in place can increase your confidence and prevent the situation from escalating. As your Colorado Springs and Denver security experts, we’re here to share some safety tips for women in the service industry.
If you feel unsafe at work, it’s important to communicate with your managers or business owners. They may be able to put additional security measures in place, such as hiring a bouncer or making sure that you are scheduled with another coworker for closing shifts.
1. Always Close with Another Coworker
For smaller bars and breweries, it’s common to just have one person scheduled for a closing shift. But this can be unsafe, especially if your bar is in an isolated location or surrounded by businesses that close earlier in the day. Request to be scheduled with a coworker or ask someone to come sit with you while you close. They will most likely be happy to help in exchange for dinner or a drink.
Having someone else nearby can deter harassment and assault. In the worst-case scenario, you have someone to call for help while you deal with the situation. Alternatively, if you are unable to bring in another person for closing shifts, make sure that you leave with a group of people so you won’t be walking alone in the dark.
2. Know Who to Contact in an Emergency
When you’re working, have the number of your local authorities or security team readily available in case of an emergency. You should also know who to contact within the bar or restaurant if there is a problem. Talk to the manager or owner and make sure they are aware of any potential risks so that they can take action before it becomes an issue.
Not knowing security protocols until a situation has already occurred is one of the biggest mistakes we see across all industries. You don’t want to be dealing with a dangerous customer alone just because you didn’t know who to ask for help.
3. Understand De-escalation Tactics
Part of your safety plan should include understanding the different tactics you can use to de-escalate a situation. Take a few minutes to research de-escalation tactics and practice how you would respond if someone became aggressive or threatening. Your natural instinct may be to fight back, but this could actually make the situation worse. Instead, stay calm and try to defuse the situation by talking calmly and listening attentively.
You can also use body language to make it clear that you are not interested in engaging with them. Make sure your boundaries are well established, and be direct about what you won’t tolerate. If they continue to escalate the situation, don’t hesitate to leave or call for help.
4. Practice Good Situational Awareness
Though it can be hard to focus on your surroundings while dealing with customers, always keep an eye out for anyone who may be behaving suspiciously. Pay attention to any comments that make you uncomfortable and take note of their appearance so you can alert a manager. If someone has been cut off or ejected from the bar, make sure that they have actually left the premises and aren’t waiting for you or your coworkers to exit later.
5. Keep Your Phone Nearby and Charged
Your cell phone can be a lifeline in an emergency situation. Make sure to keep it close by and always have it charged so you can call for help if needed. You may even consider keeping a backup power bank at the bar or restaurant in case your phone dies during closing shifts. If you are unexpectedly closing alone, you can even keep someone on the line with you to make sure you stay safe.
6. Lock Doors at Close
Always make sure all the doors are locked at close. Let your current customers know that it’s time to leave. Don’t be afraid to ask them more than once if necessary and call for help if anyone refuses.
If you’re comfortable with the patrons currently inside your bar, it’s okay to let them stay for a bit while you clean up. Trusted regulars can actually be an extra safety measure since they will keep an eye out for you. Still, locking the doors from the outside can prevent anyone from sneaking in who shouldn’t be there.
7. Communicate with Your Coworkers
Finally, remember to communicate with your coworkers. Tell them about any potential risks you have noticed and share safety tips as needed. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to stay with you or walk you out to your car, and make it clear that you are happy to do the same for them. By working together to stay safe, you all can protect each other and make sure no one is left in a dangerous situation alone.
8. Take a Self-Defense Course
You can also take it a step further and sign up for a self-defense course. Learning effective ways to protect yourself can give you the confidence you need to stay safe on the job. Many reputable security companies, like Pikes Peak Security, offer safety trainings for people in their area. We currently offer basic self-defense and active violence response training for Colorado Springs and Denver.
Some employers will even pay for you and your coworkers to take this type of course, so talk to your manager first to see if they are willing to compensate you for safety training.
9. Carry Self-Defense Tools
Though they shouldn’t be your first line of defense, you can also carry self-defense tools on the job. This could include pepper spray or other non-lethal weapons that can help in a dangerous situation. Be aware of any policies your employer has about carrying such items, and make sure you are familiar with how to use them safely.
Remember—Your Safety Comes First
No matter what anyone says, never compromise your safety. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation as soon as you can. Don’t be afraid to leave or call for help if needed. Ultimately, your safety is worth more than any tip or comment a customer might make.
At Pikes Peak Security, we want to help keep our community members safe and secure. We hope these tips will give you the confidence to protect yourself in any situation. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our safety trainings, please give us a call. You can also follow us on social media to learn about our upcoming safety training giveaway!