With the arrest of Matthew Harkey for kidnapping, beating and raping a Winnebago County woman fresh on viewer’s minds, we asked a Winnebago County Sheriff’s Training Officer to give us some tips on how you can keep yourself and your family safe in dangerous situations.

“Anything you can do to draw attention to them, you’re better off,” said Frank Ingardona, Training Director for the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office.

Being prepared is the most important message Ingardona has: knowing your surroundings, being loud, and being prepared to fight when your life is on the line.

“Getting into a car and going to a secondary location is never a good idea, so if you scream loud, fight, do everything that you can do to get away,” he said.

Ingardona recommends simple things, like knowing where exits are and who you’re standing nearby, are key components of being prepared.

He says people need to have a plan for every situation.

“Have a plan before hand, because nobody makes good decisions when you’re scared or startled,” he said.

Paying attention to the people you’re talking to on social media or in public is something that could tell you if the person you’re talking to is safe. 

Ingardona says a good rule of thumb is that if something does not feel right, get out.

“You have to look for different clues in people, and we train police officers ‘this is what to look for in people, and listen to what they’re saying,'” he said.

Ingardona says people need to have real family discussions, such as they would for a fire or tornado drill.

“We prepare people for the worst and we hope for the best, so why aren’t we preparing each other for what humans can do?” he said.

Ingardona says being prepared isn’t the same thing as living in fear, and says no one should be afraid to ask for help.