Door-to-door sales are a useful marketing tool, but walking around for hours and knocking on unfamiliar doors does come with some risks. Here are four ways to minimize the danger and make sure you get home safe and sound.

Be Aware

Basic situational awareness seems obvious, but when you’re trying to read a map, mark off homes on your walk list and organize customer information at the same time, it can be easy to stop paying attention to your surroundings. Never walk on the street if it’s possible to avoid it, and be sure to check both ways at any crossings. Look at the house you’re approaching before you enter the yard, and trust your instincts if something seems wrong or dangerous. Your subconscious may be picking up on warning signs.

Watch For Dogs

Dog bites are one of the biggest dangers door-to-door salespeople face. If “Beware of Dog” signs are posted, trust them and don’t enter. Even if there are no signs, rattle the gate and call out before you enter a fenced yard. Assume that any dog is a potential danger, and never pet a dog without permission. If you do get permission, offer your hand first to let the dog sniff you and approach on its own.

If you are confronted by an aggressive dog, do not run as that may trigger an attack. Speak loudly but calmly, and back away slowly. Look for cover, such as a gate you can get behind, a low fence you can jump or a tree or truck bed you can climb into to get away. If you are bit by a dog, you could consider working with a dog bite attorney.

Carry Emergency Gear

While you don’t need to be equipped like you would for a hike in the wilderness, it’s important to carry some basic essentials? A cell phone is a must in case you need to call for help, and make sure you have plenty of water. If you’re on any medications that you may need while you’re working, such as an inhaler for asthma, double-check to make sure you have it before you head out.

Don’t Argue

While sales techniques do require some pushing, it’s important to know when to leave the situation. Don’t engage with people who are overtly hostile or seem to be looking for a fight. At best you’ll be wasting your time, but sometimes those situations can escalate into violence.

Door-to-door canvassing can be a fun way to meet new people and learn more about your city, but safety is key. If you are polite, prepared and aware, you’re more likely to have a safe and successful day.