BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As a second generation realtor in Baton Rouge with her own real estate business, Bridget Fredericks is very familiar with the risks that come along with the job. Also the president of the Greater Baton Rouge Realtor Association, she remembers one encounter in particular.
Fredericks says she once got a call from two men she did not know who insisted on meeting at a vacant house.
"I told them it was our policy to meet at the office first. They refused and were upset about it. The whole thing felt weird," said Fredericks.
The real estate agent did not go that day and never heard back from the men. Fredericks says the recent kidnapping and death of an Arkansas realtor is a painful reminder of how vulnerable her position can be.
She explains there are precautions most agents take, such as meeting clients in an office setting before visiting properties up for sale and letting someone know where you are going. She also takes extra steps when showing a house.
"I try to be cognitive of where my clients are in the house. I try not to get too distracted that I miss what they are doing. I also, usually, have myself positioned between them and the nearest exit," said Fredericks.
Whether you're a realtor or not, it is easy to become distracted or let your guard down in any situation. Experts say not being aware is the first step to becoming a victim.
"Whereever you're at -- at home, in your car or going to school-- you have to be mindful of the potential hazards present," said martial arts expert John Daniel.
Daniel has practiced karate for 50 years and often gives presentations on self-defense. His most important advice is that safety starts with awareness.
"We have to have a mindset, a mindfulness if you will, of awareness, assessment and a course of action. Awareness and assessment of what? Your own personal strengths and challenges, those of other people around you, and the environment that you work," explained Daniel.
Daniel also said it's often more important to run than to fight. He said knowing how to respond to an attack physically takes training and practice.
"In fire, you know stop, drop, and roll. In situations of violence, what do you do? You want to minimize your need to have contact with somebody. First you run, you hide, and then you fight," said Daniel.
For realtors, Fredericks says that means knowing that no sale is worth your life. The Greater Baton Rouge Realtor's Association also hosts a yearly safety class for local agents. More information on Realtor safety can be found here.